Chase Smith

The Caney Fork River is known as one of the region’s premier spots for fly fishing. The deep green, slow-moving stream flowing through central Tennessee, is a serene backdrop for Fish Anglers to cast their line. Chase was introduced to the river by his father as a boy and it remains his passion to this day. Fly fishing fundamentals came early and naturally to Chase, including how to roll cast for tight spots (keeping tension between your fly line and the surface of the water, is not easy!)

As the years passed, and he was an attentive student to the many valuable skillsets from his father, the most important, he learned, was patience. Throughout his journey, he has used the many powerful facets of this skill to remain positive and continue moving forward.

As a skilled woodworker by trade, Chase is comfortable with machinery and the tools needed for his craft. One of these is a radius molder. It is a stationary woodworking machine where decorative wood is passed through to cut curvature. In the Winter of 2020, he recalls: “I got my hand in a place that a hand had no business being.”

While using this tool, the wood plank hit a knot and kicked the piece out, and then swallowed it back in, taking Chase’s right hand with it. He immediately pulled his injured hand away, hiding the damage from co-workers. “How bad is it?” his co-worker asked. Chase, accessing his fly-fishing skillset, answered calmly, “It’s bad. It’s time to go to the hospital.”

Fortunately, his sister was studying to become a nurse at the hospital he was taken to. He was able to alert his sister of the accident while in transit giving her enough time to have emergency staff awaiting his arrival.

Chase remembers feeling that his index was “a little chewed up” but believed there was no major damage. His middle finger was crushed at the first knuckle and his ring finger had been partially amputated and crushed at the first knuckle as well. Surgery to fuse the joints was recommended and initially appeared to be successful. Unfortunately, the procedure left the digits not functioning properly. Even after (insert time frame) healing, he didn’t have the grip he needed to swing a hammer at work or the ability to tie the intricate knots on his fishing lures. He couldn’t accept the limited functionality in his fingers as they were. Every cell in his body knew something had to be done.

This was when Chase decided amputation may be needed. In March of 2020, he called his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Thomas T. Dovan, MD, to formulate a plan. He expected it would be a few weeks before his doctor would have the time to consult with him, giving him plenty of time to continue to ponder the decision. “But my doctor was available for the surgery the next day,” laughs Chase. “So I made my decision quickly.”

His accident happened on the cusp of COVID-19 quarantines, if his appointment had been scheduled even two weeks later, it likely would have been canceled or postponed. While he would have preferred more time to mentally prepare for the major surgery, he was aware of how lucky he was to have the procedure when he did, as many healthcare providers soon became limited in their abilities, via closures or overwhelm during the pandemic.

Coincidentally, Chase had come across Naked Prosthetics devices on social media years before the accident. After extensive physical therapy for roughly seven months, he was ready to seek more information about prosthetics. He knew exactly what he wanted.

With the help of Kelly Hefferan, CP/O at Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions in Nashville, TN, they worked on mobilization exercises, desensitization, stretching, and electrode-stimulation. By September of 2020, he was ready to start the fitting process. Only a few short weeks later, he had his PIPDriver.

To accommodate his prosthesis, he has needed to modify his grip, but this has led him to feel more comfortable and more confident with his device. He wears it all day, every day, explaining that it makes daily activities like holding a phone so much easier.

He began tying his own flies while fishing, something he had not attempted before the accident. “It is important to learn new skills after hand trauma,” he explains. “After a loss is the best time to explore something new because there is no benchmark of success to meet. You have to find your new normal in the little things.”

Chase changed roles at work to accommodate his new normal. “I joke that I just needed to cut off my fingers to be promoted to foreman,” he explains light-heartedly. Before the accident, he felt the invincibility that often accompanies youth and didn’t necessarily think of safety first. “Because of what I went through I’m more on the ball about making sure people are doing things the safest way. I am the first to run over to unexpected construction sounds on the worksite. The hair on the back of my neck stands up.” Recently Chase visited Career Day at a nearby Elementary School. The children were fascinated with his device and he was able to express the importance of safety to the class.

“I’ve always been fascinated with hands and felt like hands tell a story about what you do. And there’s nothing to be ashamed or self-conscious or embarrassed about with scars. I think people are more impressed by you when you’ve been through something like this.”

When we speak with end-users, we are always inspired. The admiration we have for people who turn their challenging experiences into positives inspires us in our mission to continue innovating and providing functional, high-quality finger prostheses that get people back to work and doing the things they love.

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Jeanie McGarvey | Advocate

Jeanie is based out of Ohio where she wears four PIPDrivers, three MCPDrivers, and one ThumbDriver.

Read her story here.

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Jaime Perkins | Ambassador

Jaime Perkins injured four of his fingers while working with a jointer in his workshop in 2020. A well-respected builder, he joins Naked Prosthetics with his own audience of over 606,000 YouTube channel subscribers for Perkins Builder Brothers, a company started by his architect father, that he shares with his brother, Erik. Jaime joined as a NPChampion Ambassador after experiencing for himself the functionality afforded by the MCPDrivers. Jaime lives in North Carolina with his wife Jaime and their three children.

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Matt Finney | Ambassador

At age 36, Matt lost several digits due to vascular occlusion. After a several-year struggle that led him down a dark and troubled path, Matt found his way to Naked Prosthetics to become the first to wear each of the three custom, body-driven devices together: one PIPDriverTM, one MCPDriverTM, and one ThumbDriverTM. Because of his directness and candor, Matt has become a popular addition to conferences and speaking engagements that Naked Prosthetics participates in. Matt now owns his own successful concrete finishing business, something he says wouldn’t have been possible without the technology behind his devices.

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Moises Aramburo | Ambassador

Moises spends his time traveling between California and Mexico. In the Summer of 2012, Moises and his friend took their truck out after a tropical storm in Mexico to assess the local damage. While towing a vehicle stuck in the flood, they decided to try something new – boogie boarding on the flooded streets. An accident with the rope caused four of his fingers on his right hand to be torn off. Moises wears a four-digit GripLock finger with socketing from the Ossur team.

GLF Designed + Manufactured by Naked Prosthetics. Socket Fabrication by Hanger Clinic and Össur.

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Natasha Baggett | Ambassador

Natasha lost two of her fingers to a woodworking accident at home in 2019. A beef and poultry farmer, artist, and mother to five girls, Natasha wears two of our MCPDrivers and was a beta tester for our Conductive Tip and Rose Gold finish. Since her accident, she has devoted much of her time and energy to the amputee community, sharing her journey and helping other amputees find acceptance and purpose from within. For those reasons and more, Natasha is a welcome addition to the NPChampion Ambassador family and a warm and engaging advocate for the amputee community.

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Nick Armstrong | Ambassador

As a beta tester for Naked Prosthetics, Nick Armstrong was instrumental in the development of the MCPDriver. At the time Nick suffered a workplace injury in 2012 that left him with amputations on five of his fingers, prosthetic options that would allow him to get back to work as a welder and auto mechanic and back to taking care of his farm didn’t exist. In 2015 Naked Prosthetics began testing the MCPDriver, and Nick provided the necessary real-life testing and feedback to assure the devices’ performance in harsh environments. Nick lives in Illinois and speaks alongside NP regularly to groups about his story and the functionality and confidence his devices provide.

Trevor Thibodeux | Ambassador

Born and raised in Louisiana, Trevor is a calm soul with a southern charm that draws you in. Trevor’s left hand was injured on the job in late 2020, repairing a machine that feeds, cuts, and seals velcro. While fixing the machine the operator started up the machine and the blade took his middle and ring finger, cutting the tendon on his index finger, and crushing his pinkie. As our newest NPChampion Ambassador, he wears two MCPDrivers and is motivated by the thought of helping someone like himself no longer be afraid of life.

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Ashley Umbaugh | Advocate

A mother to two young children, it is important for her to not miss a thing. Outdoor enthusiast and whim taker, Ashley, was trying something new, riding a motorcycle. In the Summer of 2021 she joined her husband on the road when she lost control of the bike. In an attempt to save her leg from being crushed, she threw her hand to rest on the band which sucked her fingers into the sprocket and amputated her middle finger. Her device has given her more than function, it has given her hope. With the help of her MCPDriver, she wants to spread hope to everyone in this community.

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John Powers | Advocate

John is an artist based out of New York. He wears one ThumbDriver and one MCPDriver.

Read his story here.

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Kenneth Brunke | Advocate

Father of four, Marine Corps Veteran, and woodworker, Ken, lost his left thumb, index finger, ring and pinkie finger in a table saw accident mid 2021. Ken’s three-digit MCPDriver and ThumbDriver has allowed him to turn his woodworking skills from a hobby into a full business. His unabashed willingness to share his story through humor and charm are a welcome addition to the NPChampions program.

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Michael Stanton | Advocate

Michael brings energy and positivity to every conversation he has and is sure to leave you with a smile. A splinter was all it took. Early 2019 Michael was working when a small piece of wood lodged itself into his hand. Unfortunately, after removing it the wound became infected and required his right thumb to be amputated. With the help of his ThumbDriver, Michael hasn’t let this slow him down!

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Stephanie Brassard | Advocate

Stephanie lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and is passionate about inspiring other amputees to know that losing fingers isn’t the end and that they can overcome challenges that they may face. Self proclaimed “accident prone” sawmill worker and physical trainer, Stephanie, wasn’t surprised when she crushed her fingers. In November, 2019 she went to grease a machine when she noticed it was still on. Before she could pull away it had grabbed onto her hand, removing her left thumb and pointer finger. Stephanie wears one MCPDriver and a ThumbDriver. She wants to help inspire other amputees to know that losing fingers is not the end and that they too can overcome challenges.

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Tammy Stolle | Advocate

Tammy is a court reporter in South Dakota and wears one MCPDriver.

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Alycia Kerrigan-Mize | Agent

College student and competitive swimmer Alycia lost a majority of her pinkie finger in an accident at only 15 years old. With the use of her PIPDriver, she’s rediscovered her confidence and uses her platforms to share her story and inspire others.

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John Hillard | Agent

Retired Navy Veteran, John is settled in Noblesville, Indiana. After losing his thumb in a circular saw accident, he regained functionality with his ThumbDriver and is back to creating beautiful woodworking pieces.

John Thompson | Agent

John wears two MCPDrivers. Born and raised in Brandon, Mississippi, he lives with his wife and daughter and enjoys staying active outdoors.

Nelisiwe Nxumalo | Agent

Nelisiwe wears two MCPDrivers. An adventurous and captivating woman, she travels the world sharing snaps along the way.

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Darrel Comeau | Ambassador

Darrel joins us from Alberta, Canada after losing much of his index finger in a workplace accident late in 2017. He was checking a fit up for one of his crew members when an improperly tacked steel beam dropped on his finger. A jack of many trades, Darrel is not only a construction site foreman but also a gifted photographer. He wears an MCPDriver. As some of his biggest fans, Naked Prosthetics looks forward to highlighting his work and his story.

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