I am Ken Sieperman, a 72-year-old retired engineer and quad amputee (bilateral below the knee amputation and all 10 digits PIP) as a result of sepsis. In June 2013, I was a healthy 65-year-old with no real health issues. In fact, I had just returned from a week-long canoe trip when I began feeling ill. It was a warm day and thought it was due to the weather. By mid-day, I had flu-like symptoms and decided to go home and rest. The next day, I still had a high temperature and was showing signs of comprehension difficulty. I went to urgent care, and they confirmed that I had a fever of 103° and my blood pressure was 70/50. I was immediately transported to the hospital for treatment where it was concluded that I had an undiagnosed kidney stone that turned into a bladder infection that went septic.
The next three days, none of which I remember, were a scramble to control my blood pressure and treat the infection. I was given vasopressors to keep my blood in the central organs. This, in conjunction with sepsis, caused extensive damage to my extremities. Resulting in having to have my fingers amputated in July and my feet in August after extensive hyperbaric treatment. I went from the hospital to acute rehab because I needed more assistance than a regular nursing home can provide.
Getting My Devices
In November 2013, I was fitted for prosthetic legs. The prostheses worked incredibly well and by spring of 2014 I was already walking, and started driving later that year. My fingers on the other hand, were a different story. I tried several products, but they were not substantial enough. I was looking for something stronger and more robust.
I had been following Naked Prosthetics (NP) and their devices for quite some time. Fortunately, my prosthetist was able to acquire a demo device for me to try. It was the best product I had put on my hand. Coming from an engineering standpoint, NP devices are functional and of high quality. I especially appreciate the metallic ridges, which features a well-thought-out kinetic design.
To this day, I am grateful to my occupational therapist, who had extensive knowledge on fingers and hands. Every day for 2.5 hours, she would have me do stretches and desensitization exercises to increase the mobility in my fingers. The flex ability and range of motion I’ve gained on my residual limbs helped me use my NP device system.
I have had my four-digit MCPDriver™ and ThumbDriver™ for about six months and I am still learning how to best utilize its capabilities. I wear it for a couple of hours every day and currently use it as a tool where extended grip is required.
Role as a Certified Peer Visitor and President of the Syracuse Amputee Support Group
It has been 7 years since my amputation, and I have been a Certified Peer Visitor (CPV) for almost four years. CPV is a program offered by the Amputee Coalition to amputees who are interested in pushing their mission forward by meeting with individuals living with limb loss/difference and family members in times of need. As a CPV, I am able to talk to new amputees in the local hospitals and answer their questions. I always say, “Can you do everything you did before? Probably not, but you can do it a little differently.”
In addition to my role as a CPV, I am also the president of our local amputee support group in Syracuse, NY. This allows me to create the similar environment I had during my recovery and to assist our members in any way I can, with whatever they need.