Student creates custom-made dolls with prostheses

(WIVB Photo)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kids often look for dolls that look just like them. That can be a challenge for boys and girls with amputations or prostheses.

Now one young woman from Eden hopes to change that. Mikaela Nelson doesn’t want her clients to feel any different.

She said, “They’re just different, and they just have a uniqueness about them.”

She says she understands it can be a challenge growing up as an amputee. She said, “I know it’s hard for kids especially when they’re growing up to look around and see other kids who have all ten fingers or all ten toes.”

She is studying Prosthetics and Orthotics at University at Hartford. Last year she started her own business, designing custom dolls for kids across the country.

She has made dolls for seven children so far. She starts by looking at a photo of the child and then creates prostheses that match theirs. She also makes sure the doll has the same hair color and skin tone as the child.

She often spends days working on just one doll. Clara from Wisconsin, got her doll for Christmas this year. Nelson said, “I was able to make her a leg that was rainbow, and red, and all her favorite colors and still make it look like her own leg. It was just really cool to see how happy she was and the fact that she wanted to name it after me was really special.”

Nelson noticed there weren’t many options for kids like Clara on the market, Her dolls are often used as a teaching tool for those just learning how to work with their prosthetic. Nelson said, “It’s really nice to see a kid actually enjoy what I do. And it makes me feel really special. Like I’m actually helping someone instead of sitting in my garage making dolls. It’s really rewarding.”

And the dolls are a reminder as they grow up, being unique is a good thing. “They’re not abnormal. There’s nothing wrong with them, they still can be beautiful and they still are beautiful.”

Nelson is looking for donations of dolls she could use for her business. If you’re interested in ordering a doll, you can visit her site on Etsy. Her contact information is also available there.