Children love playing with dolls they can identify with. But for many kids with disabilities, it is difficult to find dolls that look like them. Mikaela Nelson ’18 is hoping to change that. The prosthetics and orthotics major in the University of Hartford’s College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, creates dolls with prostheses for children with artificial limbs.
Parents order the dolls from Mikaela’s online Etsy Shop. 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. The dolls also serve a practical purpose; the custom-made dolls help children learn to better control their own prosthesis. By taking the doll’s prosthesis on and off, they learn how to navigate their own.
It is Mikaela’s dream to start an entire line of toys with custom prostheses for her patients after she’s graduated and working as a prosthetist. Meanwhile the empathy she is showing for young patients and the experience she is gaining in making the miniature prostheses will make her stand out when she applies for residencies.
“At the end of day, it is more about making kids happy than making money,” Mikaela concludes.