Nick is an active 26-year-old male with five proximal phalanx amputations. His injury occurred in 2012 on the job as a welder. While operating a steel roller, both hands were pulled into the machine, causing severe crushing injuries and degloving to both hands. He spent a month in the hospital undergoing dozens of surgeries, including skin grafts, joint fusing on his left hand, and an unsuccessful replantation of his right fifth finger. The medical team was unsure if Nick would have any use of his hands considering the level of trauma, tissue damage, and structure loss. But after months of therapy, Nick surpassed expectations and regained some function and range of motion from his residual digits. At the time, there were no functional finger prostheses on the market that were suitable for Nick’s required level of activity, strength, and use.
Nick’s primary objectives were to be able to fully grasp objects with confidence, to return to work as a welder and auto mechanic, and to be able to continue his hobbies, which include maintaining his and his wife’s land and horses. His residual digits allowed him to hold objects, but without a firm grip. He was able to lift a hammer but unable to swing or control it. The loss of fingers on his right hand also greatly diminished his ability to perform the fine motor tasks required in his work. Like many people who have experienced disfigurement of the hands, Nick’s self-esteem and confidence had also plummeted. He stopped engaging in handshakes and would try to hide his hands from view. He states, “It may not matter to them but in my mind I’m thinking ‘I’m different, they’re staring at me.'” He notes that even interacting with a cashier for a financial transaction caused him serious distress.
As of February 2019, Nick has been wearing four MCPDrivers™ on his right hand for over three years. He has returned to work as an auto mechanic and welder, and uses the devices every day for at least eight hours. Nick uses his devices for power grasps and object handling, as well as for fine motor skills such as automotive wiring jobs. The device offers the added benefit of residuum protection, which is often a significant factor for those with finger amputations who have hypersensitivity. He states that his right hand with the prostheses is more capable than his left hand, with its injured structures and scar tissue. Nick shares that the emotional impact has been just as important to him as the functional ability he regained. When he introduces himself and shakes hands he says he, “used to be the guy with the missing fingers, and now he is the guy with the cool hand.” He and his wife related that when he is out socializing, he has now become the center of attention in a positive way because of his prostheses, and even lets people try them on for fun. He states, “Yeah they’re staring and they’re curious, but it’s more of a positive thing for me because I know they’re thinking, ‘Wow that’s cool. What is that?’ It’s positive. It takes a very negative situation and puts a very positive spin on it.” Nick’s wife says, “Since Nick received his prostheses, his self-esteem is back to where it was before his injury.”
Despite the high demands that Nick puts on his devices, they have only experienced two part replacements. The breaks were both at the adduction/abduction connection point on the back plate, which is where the highest forces are transmitted in heavy lifting. Naked Prosthetics designed him a strengthened back plate, which he is using now. When sitting down with Nick, it becomes very apparent how comfortable he is with his devices. Without looking, he picks things up and drums his fingers on the table.
The devices have become a part of him and he is able to do tasks now without consciously thinking about it. He can also feel when he has a hold on an object. “I know when I’m grabbing something, I know when I’m moving each finger.” Nick continues to grow stronger with his devices. “I know its capabilities now, too. I still find new things that I can do with it, new ways to pick things up, or open something. It’s definitely become a part of me.” He plans on getting a fifth device for his residual digit on his left hand. Today, Nick is an ambassador for Naked Prosthetics and attends many conferences. His confidence is restored, and he is often asked by kids if he is a superhero.
“Yeah, they’re staring and they’re curious, but it’s more of a positive thing for me because I know they’re thinking, ‘Wow that’s cool. What is that?’ It’s positive. It takes a very negative situation and puts a very positive spin on it.”