Easton LaChappelle: Making prosthetics affordable and accessible
Aug 12, 2020 – minute read
Easton LaChappelle is a tinkerer. Since he was a child, he’s been fascinated by how things work, taking apart his toys and putting them back together.
As a teenager, he became fascinated by robotics, so he set out to learn everything he could about prosthetics engineering. To do that, LaChappelle turned to YouTube.
“On YouTube, I learned the core fundamentals of how electronics and microcontrollers work, how software interfaces with electronics, how to move motors and read sensors and really create a system,” he says.
And as he learned, he started to experiment.
His early devices were clumsy and failed often. But he kept at it, and soon he had a working model that started to generate interest on the science fair circuit, making it all the way to the White House Science Fair with President Obama.
While it was always clear that engineering was his calling, it was a chance encounter with a young girl at one of these science fairs that set him on his course for life.
The girl showed LaChappelle her prosthetic arm, which looked “archaic,” LaChappelle remembers. The prosthetic arm cost about $80,000. Was this really her best available option?
Right then, he says, he “decided to dedicate [his] life to solving the affordability of prosthetic devices.”
There’s over 40 million amputees worldwide, and only about 5% of them have access to prosthetic devices. It was just not acceptable to me. I knew I had to do something about this.”
After developing a working prototype, he founded a company, Unlimited Tomorrow, which makes low-cost, machine-printed prosthetic limbs using a special remote-fitting process for a perfect fit. LaChappelle and his growing team were able to raise $1.568M in under 30 days, enabling Unlimited Tomorrow to release its first product, TrueLimb, with the hopes of ultimately providing millions of prosthetic devices, worldwide.
“To create technology that can impact someone’s life on a really deep level, that’s something that I’ve dedicated my life to,” LaChappelle says. “There’s over 40 million amputees worldwide, and only about 5% of them have access to prosthetic devices. It was just not acceptable to me. I knew I had to do something about this.”
Always pushing for better, LaChappelle continues to research new technologies on YouTube to advance his prosthetics. Check out our interview with LaChappelle above to learn more about his amazing mission.