Cara Beckman has been an active member of the Finger and Partial Hand Amputee Peer + Support Group since joining in June 2019. Since that time, she has provided tips, asked questions, shared her thoughts, and most importantly given support to her fellow members whenever she could. After getting to know her a little bit more, we were amazed by her eagerness to continue living an active lifestyle and her courage to try new things out of her comfort zone.
“On December 6th, 2018, I experienced the worst day of my life. My morning shift started as any other day but ended in no way I could have ever expected—me being rushed to the ER and losing two and a half fingertips on my left hand,” Cara recalls.
It was a slower day for Cara at the juice and smoothie shop where she was working in Vancouver, B.C. She was juicing some vegetables when the juicer suddenly stopped working, not an uncommon occurrence when making a fiber-heavy drink. Cara immediately placed more vegetable matter—as she always does—to try to push the objects down. In the process of unclogging the juicer, it started working again pulling her hand down into the machine.
Like so many of our wearers have described the moments after their accidents, waiting for the ambulance felt like forever for Cara. The 15-minute drive from the shop to the hospital gave her too much time to keep replaying in her head the incident that just happened.
Recovery and Therapy
Clouded with fears and doubts, Cara was still ready to get to work on her recovery. Within a month, Cara began doing physical therapy to help desensitize her nubs and gain the strength back on her fingers. Her exercise regimen included a lot of time on the rowing machine and lifting a one-pound weight on her fingers.
Prior to her accident, Cara was an avid yogi and enjoyed practicing inversions (yoga poses where the heart is higher from the ground than the head) and handstands. “I spent a year doing physical therapy to regain my strength in my left hand, but I still felt as though I was struggling to hold and grip my mat as I practiced yoga,” she recalls. Every time she tried to balance her weight, she would fall backwards due to the lack of grip and support.
Naked Prosthetics Journey
Suffering from a partial-hand or finger amputation can be extremely debilitating. “I struggled not only with the physical pain, but also accepting that I lost something I could never get back,” says Cara. In fact, when she first started looking at her options, she only wanted a cosmetic prosthesis because she felt that she needed her hands to look like “her hands” again. After hearing more about Naked Prosthetics from her physical therapist, she realized that she needed something more functional. Many referrals later, Cara gained approval for Naked Prosthetics devices and six months later she received her two PIPDrivers.
We always say that the smallest things make the biggest impact. “The first thing I did as soon as I got in the driver’s seat of my car was use my turn signal,” she says. “There are so many things I used to take for granted that I can now appreciate with my functional devices,” Cara adds. Within just a week of practice, Cara was able to hold a side plank—which was something she has not been able to do since her accident—and even asked others to attempt to push her over to really test the grip. She continues to relearn more complicated yoga poses and inversions.
Each person’s prosthetic experience is different. Some people would put on their prostheses and immediately perform tasks in a way that is almost like they never lost their digits. For some though, especially the ones who have adapted and relearned to do things without prosthetic intervention, a little more practice is required. During the early stages of getting to know her prostheses and their capabilities, Cara had to put in more effort in relearning to type with her PIPDrivers but as time went on, typing became much easier and faster.
A More Confident Cara
Last year, Cara took up rock climbing, an activity that many of her friends enjoy. She started going more just before the pandemic and eventually fell in love with the sport. When asked about the other fitness activities that she would like to try next, she says “Anything. I am more adventurous now. I think of it as a challenge. If other people can do it, I can do the same, just a little differently.” Cara’s devices gave her the ability to grip the rocks when climbing, grip her mat when practicing yoga, type on her computer when taking notes at school, and more.
Joining the Support Group
The day Cara learned about Naked Prosthetics was also the same day she joined the support group. “That was a big thing that really helped me to see that other people are going through the same thing. The group honestly helped me the most. The daily struggles, the small things that you don’t really think about,” she shares.
The Finger and Partial-Hand Amputee Peer + Support Group was created specifically for this very reason: to let individuals know that they are not alone. We are constantly amazed by the strength, resilience, and heart of our members and Cara’s presence and involvement didn’t go unnoticed. Within two months of being a member, she created this video compiling a number of responses from our members about common hand and finger amputee misconceptions:
“You may feel hopeless in the moment, but it does get better. And you will be surprised at what you could learn. I am a different person now and I grew from the experience.” – Cara Beckman, Two PIPDrivers