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

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is a hereditary neuropathy that affects approx. 2.8 million people worldwide. That’s as many as multiple sclerosis, yet CMT is less known. The progression of this untreatable disease can be slowed through physical activity. The FIT team transformed leg braces and bra straps into fashion accessories with the hope of fostering confidence and style.
Close up of the leg brace cover made out of a reflective silver material.
Problem
Take a moment and bring attention to the toes; imagine they are frozen, numb and can no longer be felt or moved.

Next, imagine the ankles falling asleep. They are paralyzed and the feet can no longer be lifted. Calves have shrunk to 30% of their capacity. While walking, the feet slap on the ground like floppy scuba flippers. Balance is wobbly, as every step requires complete concentration to avoid tripping and falling.

The most accessible solution is a pair of leg braces, offering ankle support and addressing foot drop.
The braces are aN early victory
Benefits include increased mobility and energy. But, looking down below the knees, all that is seen are strappy, bulky, plastic shells.
Now what am I supposed to wear?
The only shoes that fit are wide sneakers or orthopedic shoes.
No more short pants, cocktail attire, or dress shoes. The wardrobe choices have been reduced to wide leg pants and long 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.

Design considerations:
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.
Casual Cover
The cover extends over the shoe and closes via magnetic loops.
Materials include liquid metal, black glitter, cream lace, croc, and lambswool.


Reflective athleisure covers
Athletic / Athleisure Cover
The 3M reflective sock changes color as light refracts from different angles.


Brace covers for children. They have a paper inside which can be drawn on.
Kids Doodle Cover
Personalized crayon artwork slips into brace covers and can be removed and designed by a child over time.


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? With CMT, the mitts never come off.

Hands lose strength as CMT progresses. Dressing independently can be a time-consuming and frustrating process for millions. Many are dependent on others for assistance with intimate apparel closures. This can be frustrating while getting dressed.

The challenge was to design a bra strap accessory that clips onto a bra and is easily fastened.
Bra Strap:  Outcome
Thin fabric loops pull the magnetic bra extender to open and close. The straps have hook and loops that can be easily attached to an existing bra. The loops have a bow-like appearance.
A photo series of a girl opening the bra with the help of her thumbs.
TEam MEmbers
HNF
Allison Moore, CEO
Estela Lugo, Medical Outreach Manager
FIT Faculty Participants
Amy Sperber (Fashion Design)
David Ulan (Footwear Design & Construction)

FIT Fashion Design Participants
Jacob Desvarieux
Juhi Katta
Max Kitabayashi
Saranga Gupta