Denying Defeat: Jeanie’s Road to Approval

Jeanie McGarvey came into the world with hand deformities. Her little fingers never fully developed due to bands wrapping around them before she was born. A sharp and inquisitive little girl, she adapted well. Blessed with lots of friends and a seemingly endless supply of energy, she never let her difference impede her. That’s not to say she wasn’t challenged, but she was motivated to accomplish the same things as her friends, as anyone.

Fast forward to high school and young Jeanie began experiencing vicious hand cramps. Many times, a family member would need to massage her hands back into a semi-relaxed state to grant Jeanie relief. “They would lock up,” Jeanie explains, “and none of the eight specialists that I saw about it could tell me why.” Neither hand, nerve, muscle nor movement specialists knew what her ailment or cause was. It was Jeanie’s dad, heartbroken over having watched his baby girl struggle to find answers, who finally suggested she visit a prosthetic specialist. It certainly couldn’t hurt to try.

That’s when she met Certified Prosthetist Orthotist (CPO) Nicole Pandora of Hanger Clinic.

“The minute I got there and told her what was going on, she had a name for it: overuse syndrome,” explains Jeanie. Another term for a repetitive motion disorder, it meant that after all of these years of determination and stamina Jeanie’s hands were tired and overworked and without intervention they wouldn’t get any better and may continue to worsen. In short, Jeanie’s hands needed a rest. Nicole suggested prosthetics. She explained to Jeanie that the proper devices could take some of the burden off of her hands and give her better functionality.

Jeanie demonstrates what she can do.

“I love to cook,” says now-25-year-old Jeanie wistfully, “And it had become increasingly difficult to manage, so that is one of the reasons I agreed.” Jeanie still wasn’t convinced that pursuing insurance approval was worth the investment of time and emotion. But with Nicole’s encouragement, she was willing to try.

“I wasn’t even sure I wanted them, but I got excited every time we submitted what the insurance company wanted,” explains Jeanie. Conversely, she was disappointed each time her claim was denied. Through all of this, Nicole was in constant communication about the process and next steps. “She really fought for me,” says Jeanie, “every step of the way.” But every time Jeanie was denied, it became harder and harder for her to continue the journey towards approval. She struggled. The extreme highs of hope and the devastating lows of denial seemed unnecessary. But Jeanie doesn’t give up easily; she knew she was going to have to persist. And persist she did.

The reasons for denial were hard to take. “The first time the insurance company said it wasn’t medically necessary,” laughs Jeanie. Jeanie and Nicole appealed that decision and met with an occupational therapist for a formal therapy evaluation that spoke to her deficits and goals. “The insurance company said that I had gotten along for 25 years without them so why did I all of the sudden think I needed them?”

It hardly seemed fair. After all, no one could deny Jeanie’s difference; it was obvious to anyone who looked closely at her hands. How could they not see that she had pushed herself so far in her 25 years that her fingers and hands just gave out? Up to that point, Jeanie had not allowed her hand deformities to get in the way of her leading a happy and productive life. But she was becoming more and more aware that no matter how strong she was mentally, she physically could not continue to do that. And, in essence, she was denied the proper assistance to help her because of her strength and determination up to that point. It felt like a slap in the face. Over and over.Screenshot of social media post.

The insurance company requested that Jeanie write, in her own words, a letter to explain why she felt that prosthetics were now a necessity. “They wanted to know what had changed in my abilities that suggested the devices were necessary, so I told them. And they denied me again.” The insurance company also requested a video demonstrating Jeanie’s abilities with and without prosthetics. Utilizing sample devices provided by Naked Prosthetics (not fitted to her hands for optimal performance), Jeanie was able to unscrew a lid, pick up a water bottle and more. This was met with insurance denial but after a second-level appeal, an 11-page justification document by Nicole and after a year of back and forth, Jeanie finally received approval.

Jeanie continues to go to physical therapy and is still learning what is possible with her new devices.

She proudly wears eight prostheses: four PIPDrivers, three MCPDrivers and a ThumbDriver. That is a lot to get used to when you’ve gone without for 25 years. Now muscles are used differently and need to be stretched and strengthened. Exercises include picking up objects of varying weight and size in order to help work those muscles and get her used to the sensation on her residuum and the feel of the prostheses.

Jeanie with her devices.

Not surprisingly to those who have met her, Jeanie enjoys speaking publicly. She selflessly shares her story, her triumphs and her challenges in order to motivate others to see past their perceived deficits in order to reach their goals. She has shared her journey with social media and just recently had a video go viral (go Jeanie!) that showed off her brand-new Naked Prosthetics devices.

What does Jeanie want others to know who are facing the insurance approval process? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t take no for an answer. If you believe in the proposed solution, keep going back and asking for it. The insurance game is not just between doctors and your advocate.”

So, what’s next, Jeanie? “Tomorrow my PT and I will work on kitchen utensils!”

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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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