Cold Weather Care for Partial Hand and Finger Amputees

We are approaching the half-way point of the season and the difficulties that come with the weather change continue to affect people’s lives, particularly the amputee community. It is very common for partial hand and finger amputees to experience extreme hypersensitivity and cold intolerance because of the high density of nerves in our hands.

While there are many resources online that center on the cold weather issue, they are not specific to partial hand and finger amputees. This conclusion inspired us to reach out to our ambassadors (Matt, Nick, and Erik) to discuss their challenges and to ask for some tips.

“This is a huge issue because I get a severe pain in my hand and arm when it’s cold out, it’s almost unbearable for me.”–Matt Finney

Matt has been wearing his device every day for almost three years, and he sees it as a true extension of himself. Taking them off instantly affects his mobility and changes the way he operates. In fact, Matt shared a story on our support group platform about an incident at work when he took off his device because he didn’t want to risk hitting it and accidentally caught the corner of his residual limb with a hammer. Our devices are crafted not only to help digital amputees regain function on their hands but also to protect them.

(The picture on the right shows Matt’s digit after the incident.)

As our research continued, we ran into other common challenges amputees face because of the adversities of the weather and compiled them with a few quick and easy suggestions from our ambassadors:

Soreness/Pain | The drop in temperature not only affects your residuum, but it’s also tough on your joints and bones.

“If it gets down to below 40 degrees, I feel the pain immediately,” says Matt. He would place hand warmers in between the layers of his gloves to manage the aches.

Nick shares the same problem—“The cold weather can cause severe, debilitating pain in my hands within seconds of exposure.” Nick tries to have access to gloves regardless of whether he plans on being outside. He also got fleece-lined leather gloves custom sewn to fit his amputation that can protect him for short periods of time. When he knows he will be outdoors for a substantial amount of time, his go-to armor is a pair of mittens combined with hand -warmer packets.

Erik lives in the Pacific Northwest and notices he handles cold, dry days better than cold, rainy days (even though the temperature is usually a smidge higher when it rains). He heavily relies on hand-warmer packets and his expedition mitts, which are big enough to contain his hand with his device on.

Dry, Cracked Skin | It’s common to experience some dryness during winter, but more so on the residuum because of the susceptibility of the skin.

Matt suggests applying some lotion on your hands and wearing a pair of latex gloves overnight to keep them moisturized.

For Nick, the pads of his thumbs suffer the most to the point that they become open wounds due to severe cracking: “I try to stay on top of it by moisturizing nightly (I have done what Matt does occasionally), but if it gets away from me, I’ll wear band aids with Neosporin on my thumbs throughout the day. I find that really helps prevent any further damage and dramatically increases healing speeds.”

Erik goes above and beyond in making sure his hands remain covered with his mittens made with Gore-Tex (a waterproof, breathable fabric) to prevent dry hands. Erik uses Aloe vera lotion to help soothe and moisturize his hands whenever the dryness and itchiness bother him.

Note: Before using any moisturizing agent, seek some advice from your prosthetist to make sure it won’t cause any irritations.

Limb Volume Fluctuations | Ambient conditions such as temperature and humidity can cause volume fluctuations. Cold weather tends to constrict blood vessels, which leads to poor circulation causing your digits to shrink.

“I do sometimes feel like my device fits slightly different, and it’s definitely related to temperature—when my hands are cold, they’ll shrink up a little. I notice a slightly looser fit of the rings, but it’s not enough to diminish function,” says Nick.

There are mornings when Matt feels his device is sitting differently, but this feeling disappears as the day goes on. Matt overcomes this issue by placing additional Velcro strips to stabilize his device whenever he notices a fitting variation. This is parallel to our logic behind engineering different size shims that can accompany our devices to properly secure them to our wearers’ digits without diminishing their comfort and functionality.

What truly surprised us is learning that shrunken blood vessels can also have the exact opposite effect when they expand too quickly, causing affected areas to swell. These fluctuations can alter how your device fits.

Here’s a general reminder from Erik, “Always think and plan ahead, make sure you have proper and adequate protection, so that the issue won’t be so dire.” Protecting your whole body by keeping it warm makes other parts of you less rigid. This can make moving around a bit easier and may even help you withstand any pain.

We hope these tips help you tackle the cold winter season! Got any suggestions or routines that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

Thank you to our ambassadors for making this blog possible. Get to know each of them by clicking their names below.

Naked Prosthetics Ambassadors

    Matt Finney                        Nick Armstrong                    Erik Bjarnason


Interview with Matt Finney, Nick Armstrong, and Erik Bjarnason

“FAQ For Partial-Hand and Finger Amputees” Amputee Coalition. March 1, 2019, Accessed Dec. 9, 2019.

Murphy, Douglas. “Medical Management of the residual limb” Fundamentals of Amputation Care and Prosthetics. Aug. 28, 2013, Accessed Dec. 20, 2019

Street G. Vacuum Suspension and its Effects on the Limb. Orthopadie Technik. 2006 Apr [Google Scholar]

“Atlas of Limb Prosthetics: Surgical, Prosthetic, and Rehabilitation Principles” O and P Library. 1992, Accessed Dec. 20, 2019

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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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