A display of the designed leg brace covers. In the background is a screen displaying the DTech logo.
Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation  
Our FIT teams developed leg brace covers and bra straps to support does with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a hereditary neuropathy that affects approx. 2.8 million people worldwide. That’s as many as MS, yet most individuals have never even heard of it. There are no treatments and the only way to slow down the progression is to stay as active as possible. Our team transformed leg braces into fashion accessories to bring confidence and style.
Close up of the leg brace cover made out of a reflective silver material.
Take a moment and bring your attention to your toes... feel them as they wiggle in your shoes... now stop and imagine they are frozen and numb. You can no longer feel or move them. Next, imagine your ankles falling asleep.

They are paralyzed and can no longer lift your feet. Your calves have softened and shrunk to 30% of their size. You try to walk but your feet slap down on the ground like floppy scuba flippers as you try to lift your legs high enough to walk. Your balance is wobbly at best and every step requires all of your mental concentration to avoid tripping and falling on your face.

The only solution offered to you is a pair of leg braces. They will keep your ankles supported and prevent them from dropping down when you walk.
The braces are a small victory for you.
You can get around better and have more energy to spare. But as you look down all you can see is a set of strappy, bulky, plastic shells set under your knees.
Now what am I supposed to wear?
The only shoes that fit are wide width sneakers or orthopedic granny shoes. No more shorts, cute cocktail dresses or fancy heels. Your wardrobe has been reduced to wide leg pants and maxi dresses.
In the foreground are leg braces, in the background are sketches.
A woman with leg braces.
The challenge
Transform a pair of leg braces into fierce fashion accessories. Design adaptive covers that celebrate disability without sacrificing style for women, men and children. Things to consider:
Easy closures
Adjustable fit for a wide range of leg brace styles
Breathable and sustainable materials
Designed to cover the entire shoe
Range of styles for casual to formal wear
Potential for brand licensing
leg brace covers Outcomes
Casual leg brace covers with various materials.
Causual Cover
The cover extends over the shoe and closes via magnet loops.
(Liquid metal, black glitter, cream lace, croc, sherpa rolled cuff)

Reflective athleisure covers
Athletic / Athleisure Cover
3M Reflective Cover

Brace covers for children. They have a paper inside which can be drawn on.
Kids Doodle Cover
Color wonder paper slips into cover and can be designed by child over and over.

The bra strap closures with two thumbs opening them
Adaptive & Universal Bra Strap Accessory
Grab a pair of oven mitts and put one on each hand. Now grab a bra and proceed to fasten it closed or open. Not all that easy, is it? When you have CMT, your mitts do not come off.

Our hands lose strength with progression. Dressing independently can be a time-consuming and frustrating process for millions of women everyday. Many must depend on caregivers, family members and spouses to assist them with things like intimate apparel. This can be embarrassing and emotionally exhausting.

The challenge was to design a bra strap accessory that can clip onto any existing bra and be easily fastened by someone with limited hand and arm strength.
Bra Strap Outcome
Thin loop pull open and close the magnet bra extender. The straps have hook and loops and can be attached to an existing bra with ease. The loops have a bow like appearance.
A photo series of a girl opening the bra with the help of her thumbs.
TEam MEmbers
FIT Fashion Design Participants
Jacob Desvarieux
Juhi Katta
Max Katabayashi
Saranga Gupta
FIT Faculty Participants
Amy Sperber (Fashion Design)
David Ulan (Footwear Design & Construction)