Erik Bjarnason

In May of 2005, three friends from Canada’s North Shore Search and Rescue Team were climbing Mount Logan, the second-highest peak in North America, to keep up on their climbing and survival skills. The windchill that day was negative 90 degrees. The elevation was 18,500 feet. It would be an understatement to say the conditions were extreme, but nothing the experienced crew hadn’t faced before.

A long-time firefighter and search and rescue expert, Erik Bjarnason didn’t expect to be the one rescued that day. But without warning, a sub-tropical cycle hit his camp, swooping his tent into the air, just as he had taken off his gloves for a moment, and tossed Erik hands-first into the subarctic snow. There wasn’t much Erik could do but work through the shock of frozen fingers and a tattered campsite and wait for help.

For a man who’s saved children from fires, climbed summits in nearly every continent, and pushed every boundary set against him, this new situation was something he could never prepare for. Severe frostbite set in that day, resulting in the amputation of nine of Erik’s digits.

Erik knew he could persevere through the outcomes of amputation—he had to, it was in his nature. The hardest part for Erik was emotional—it was the unexpected reaction from his peers.

“The mental aspect of the injury and the physical pain was the easy part,” shares Erik. “The way I was treated by other firefighters—I was shunned, looked down on, and ostracized—that part absolutely crushed me.”

A new urgency to overcome filled Erik, and despite reservations from his hand therapist and support team, he worked 24/7 to get to a place where he could return to work.

“I got so angry at how I was treated I wanted to show those guys they were wrong,” Erik recalls. “My doctor told me it would be at least two years, but just after a year, I passed all the tests.”

He could safely swing a fire ax, but the amount of energy he had to exert from his hands would cause extreme cramping. He could hold chainsaws, but it would have to be palm up, which was dangerous. He could hold open jaws of life, but only for a limited amount of time.

In 2006, no functional prosthesis for finger amputees were on the market, so Erik had to adapt. “I searched for a prosthetic device for years,” he says. “But everything was cosmetic. I only wanted function, I wanted grip.”

Fast forward to 2018, when an old buddy sent a video of Naked Prosthetics (NP) products to Erik as a “bionic man” joke. Erik saw that video and knew it was no joke. This could be a functional opportunity. Erik took this as his next challenge—he wanted to try the device in person.

He reached out to NP and made quick arrangements to meet CEO Bob Thompson at a trade show in Vancouver, Canada, near where Erik lived. Erik spent the whole day at the booth, absorbing every bit of information possible. Bob recommended a prosthetist, and Erik tried the demo device.

“I tried the demo and just by chance it fit really well,” recalls Erik. “I went in with little stubs and suddenly I had my hand back. I thought ‘I need to have this!’”

Soon after, Erik’s prosthetist at Barber Prosthetics took the necessary measurements, photos, casting, and videos for NP to create Erik’s custom five-digit MCPDriver device for his left hand.

“My device gave me my grip back,” says Erik. “I could hold the jaws for an hour if I had to without exerting more energy than if I had my hand.”

Erik also benefits from the device’s durability during his adventures outdoors. “There are no batteries or machinery to fail,” he says. “I can go out in the bush for four days, wear it all day long, give it a rinse and it’s good as new.”

His device also gave him a level of self-confidence he hadn’t felt in a while.

“It creates a comfort zone. Before, my hands would be down, and my head would follow. Now, I look people in the eye. And it helps them feel more comfortable, too. They don’t see me as disabled—they think I’m stronger than normal,” he says with a laugh.

Erik credits his family for the support he needed to get through. “My family was my rock. My children, my parents, my sibling; everyone in my family really helped. They listened to me and supported me. When I went to climb again, they knew it was in my blood and encouraged me to live life to the fullest,” he says.

Since his accident, Erik continues his climbing, even mentoring other finger and partial hand amputees along the way. He’s co-written a book, “Surviving Logan,” and joins NP at trade shows, but this time as an ambassador.

And while Erik’s slowed down on extreme mountain climbing, he’s not slowed down on adventuring. He loves to scuba dive and ski. At the time of this story’s writing, Erik is on a weeklong yoga retreat in Vietnam, where he’s also learned how to surf.

“I’ve always had wanderlust,” he says, a hint of whimsy in his voice. “I want to see what’s around the next corner, I just want to see the world.”

Erik wears his device for up to 12 hours a day. When he’s not travelling, he enjoys a good burger and a good beer. Keep an eye on NP’s social for an opportunity to meet Ambassador Erik at a conference or trade show near you.

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Jeanie McGarvey | Advocate

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

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Jaime Perkins | Ambassador

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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

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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

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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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