Mental Health and Partial Hand Amputation: It’s More Important Than You Think

Matt Finney was a proud new father.

He worked as a concrete finisher who enjoyed fishing and riding his motorcycle. So, when four of the five digits on Matt Finney’s right hand were partially amputated due to vascular occlusion in his right arm, it’s an understatement to say his life was changed.

In addition to not being able to work, Matt was unable to dress himself or cut his own food; nor was he able to change diapers or even pick up his 3-month-old son. The inability to support himself and his family financially, coupled with feeling debilitated both physically and psychologically by his amputation, Matt fell into a deep depression and back to a previously overcome and harmful addiction to drugs.

Matt recalls the dread following his amputation. “I remember feeling just completely filled with fear after my amputation … I had very little hope for myself.”

Up to 94 percent of individuals with mutilating hand injuries experience symptoms associated with stress and anxiety disorders, major depression, pain syndromes, and adjustment problems. Patients who have undergone trauma to their hand in the work setting seem to be particularly vulnerable to the development of significant anxiety. Additionally, because the work setting is often a major source of positive satisfaction and social interaction, the traumatic effect is compounded when this source of self-esteem is lost. Consequently, a further consideration in any partial hand intervention is the restoration of psychosocial wellness.

“The doctors are interested in closing the wounds, hand therapists hurt you to help, the prosthetist wants fits and function – and then the job is done,” says Bert Morris, a multi-digit amputee. “It has a huge psychological effect, and nobody addresses it.”

We know, as Matt and Bert intimately do, that our hands serve many roles. In addition to being the most versatile end effectors in the world, they serve as a means of connecting emotionally and socially with others, and expressing or representing feelings, thoughts, or symbolic aspects of one’s self. Disfigurement of the hands can cause profound changes to an individual’s sense of well-being. It can lead to social ostracization, agoraphobia, problems with routine social interactions, and a psychological conflict between body image and what the ego maintains as ideal.

Bert’s injury was due to an accident on the farming fields. He recalls laying in the hospital for three days before surgery and wishes desperately that someone would have helped him prepare for the shock of seeing his hand after amputation.

“It hit me over the head like a brick,” says Bert when they unwrapped his hand. “I run into people every day where I have to shake hands. My handshake is like my business card. People are going to touch my hands, and they are going to think I’m some kind of freak.”

Matt felt the same, stating his injured hand and the response it got from strangers left him self-conscious and sometimes he avoided people.

Naked Prosthetics’ Solutions

At the digit level, where 88 percent of partial hand amputations occur, for decades the only solution has been realistic silicone cosmetic restoration. While this offers some psychosocial benefit, the lack of function with these prostheses mean the adoption rate is low.

Now, there’s solution for both the functional and psychosocial benefits needed from a prosthetic finger or thumb. Naked Prosthetics’ devices restore natural motion, dexterity, and strength to people with partial digit amputations. Identified in qualitative and emerging quantitative studies, these digits are also restoring confidence. Especially when coupled with supportive therapies, a wearer’s ability to return to a desired sense of normalcy is attainable.

There are three products currently available that cover all levels of partial finger amputation: the PIPDriver, the MCPDriver, and the ThumbDriver. Operated by the user through intuitive movement and driven by intact joints, these prostheses require little acclimation and restore both digit dexterity and hand strength. There is no need for specialized training, and users report that with time these prostheses begin to feel like an endogenous extension of the body.

Bert now wears a ThumbDriver and PIPDriver. “My prosthetics and time have made things much better,” he says. “I have a lot more confidence. If I didn’t put these on in the morning, I’d feel like very self-conscious. My devices significantly reduce that self-consciousness.”

Within a month of acquiring his ThumbDriver, MCPDriver, and a PIPDriver, Matt was fully back to work using both hands. He continues to regain strength and can shake hands again. Plus, help with the kids, even changing diapers.

Adapting to the device was easy. “It works so well that I wear it pretty much all the time,” Matt says. “I was amazed at what I could do. The more I do, the more I count on this like it’s my real hand.” Matt says his hand still attracts attention, but now the attention is positive. “It’s done so much more for me than I thought it would — not just because of how I can use it, but the way it makes me feel about myself.”

These days, clear of his addiction, and contributing not only to his family’s well-being, but also contributing to the mental health of other amputees via online support, Matt says, “I feel like I’m a king. I’m very confident in myself.”

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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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