Julia Soares

In the summer of 2017, Julia Soares, a 30-year-old police officer in North Carolina, embarked on a routine day serving her city. Little did she know that her life would take a dramatic turn by lunchtime. A seemingly ordinary procedure turned into a terrifying encounter when a large, aggressive dog knocked Julia to the ground. She managed to fend off the dog, but not without a cost—Julia lost her right thumb in the struggle.

Despite losing 40% of her hand’s function, Julia tried to find healing in humor by naming her remaining digit ‘Sparky” for its tail-wagging appearance. But, even with the support of her family and fellow officers, Julia felt incomplete.

Learning about Naked Prosthetics

At the height of her rehabilitation, with the guidance of her occupational therapist (OT) at OrthoCarolina, Julia saw a glimmer of positivity. Her OT introduced her to Naked Prosthetics and showed her the ThumbDriver.

Julia recalls, “This was a very traumatic time in my life. I had no idea there were functional prostheses for thumbs.” Although the new technology raised skepticism even from her doctor, he eventually prescribed a custom Naked Prosthetics ThumbDriver.

The First Day

Securing approval for an upper-limb prosthetic device wasn’t straightforward. Julia faced challenges, but her determination and advocacy, along with support from her care team and NP’s Customer Experience Team, ensured the insurance process moved forward efficiently. Julia experienced a hopeful shift in her journey when her insurance approved the prosthesis.

After a few months of therapy and healing, the day finally came for Julia to receive her device, a ThumbDriver that was custom-designed and fabricated to her exact specifications. Although nervous at first, the moment Julia put on the device, she knew her life was about to change. Julia fondly remembers that life-altering moment:

“The first time I put it on, it was a part of me. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. I had this huge water bottle full of water, and I could just grab it. For the first time, I could hold it.”

The day continued to unfold with more positive and uplifting moments. That same afternoon, Julia went to the gym and sent us a video of herself bouncing and catching a ball. And after her workout, she went to a restaurant and held a burrito securely with her affected hand for the first time since her accident.

Regaining What She Lost

With assistance from her ThumbDriver, Julia slowly resumed her daily activities. This includes tasks like buttoning her shirt, holding a cup of coffee, and chopping vegetables. Most importantly, the device helped her return to the job that matters to her.

Julia has even affectionately named her prosthetic thumb “Sparkinator,” in homage to her remaining digit, and to acknowledge its high-tech appearance. Beyond the recovered functionality, the device alleviated her phantom sensations and granted her a natural range of movement crucial to her duties as a police officer. “As soon as I put it on, I automatically know how to use it. It’s like my brain is connected to it without any battery or wires,” Julia says. “When I’ve tried firing my gun without my ThumbDriver, it felt very unsteady and unsecured.” The connection Julia feels to her prosthesis is a shared experience within the community of NP device wearers.

For users like Julia, an NP device is more than a functional tool; it’s a key to self-confidence. Julia sums it up, saying, “With a Naked Prosthetics device, it not only changes the way you live, but it also changes your mental and emotional state. It has given me the boost of confidence I needed.”

Change in Perspective + Facing Her Fears

“The day I lost my finger was the best and worst day of my life. That event changed who I am. I feel like I’m a better person. A more empathetic and giving person.”

Seven years have passed since Julia’s accident and the path to her current situation hasn’t been without its challenges. Having undergone the process, Julia emerged stronger than ever. Whenever people reach out to her for advice, her response is always to take it one day at a time. She continues to live by this statement as she actively works on one of the biggest invisible hurdles—her fear of dogs.

In 2020, Julia reached a significant milestone in her journey. She and her wife, Karen, made the decision to welcome a dog into their lives, naming her Kody Jane. Julia’s remarkable ability to adapt, grow, and overcome inspires us. Her story is a powerful reminder that recovery is not a destination, but a lifelong process.

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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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