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How Tattooed Prosthetics Are Helping Improve Amputees’ Lives

How Tattooed Prosthetics Are Helping Improve Amputees’ Lives

Stories3 min Read

Dan Horkey’s company Prosthetic Ink creates tattooed prostheses to help amputees live their best lives.

Every year around 185,000 United States citizens suffer limb loss due to traumatic accidents, wartime injuries, and sickness like vascular disease and diabetes. There are currently close to two million amputees in the U.S. alone, and many of them are still coming to terms with the physically and emotionally difficult change. 

Horkey came up with the idea after a motorcycle accident claimed the lower portion of one of his legs. “I covered up my leg for 20 years, and then one day, I decided that I was going to wear it more openly, so I put flames on it. Now I don’t get stares; I get compliments,” Horkey explains. “Just like getting a tattoo, it’s about self-esteem. When that first compliment came from a stranger, it bolstered me up right away. My shoulders went straight back, and I walked tall and proud.” 

Today, Horkey’s company offers a wide range of customized pieces, ranging from solid color and chrome paint jobs to painted illustrative designs. Horkey has also been experimenting with screen printing to make his services more accessible and affordable. The testimonies of the people who wear these tricked out prosthetics are incredibly uplifting. Although Prosthetic Ink has done all sorts of good, there have been some stumbling blocks along the way. 

One would think that the inspirational stories that Horkey and his clients tell about their prostheses would be enough, but the VA insists on scientific, empirical data that proves his products improve the wellbeing of amputees before they will provide him with additional funding. Horkey is preparing a Research Clinical Study Proposal on the basis of benefiting the mental health and well-being of our severely injured Veterans. Once the proposal is completed, his Congressmen will help seek funding by the VA. 

To help Horkey improve the lives of more amputees, please donate to the cause on his website.  Should you be a professional in the medical field and concerned with the experience of veterans, please reach out to Horkey, especially if you have any data or research relating to how cosmetics can help the disabled live more fulfilling lives.  If you’re a tattooist and want to contribute designs, get in touch with him at dan@prostheticink.com


Ross Howerton
Written byRoss Howerton

BA in Literary Studies from The New School. MFA in Creative Writing from NMSU. Staff Writer for Tattoodo. I love art, books, movies, music, and video games. Hit me up on Twitter @Powertonium

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