Upper-Limb Solutions: How Can I Do This?
– by Rick Bowers
If you are missing one or both arms, you are missing something that most people rely on every day for seemingly simple daily tasks. As such, you can struggle to find ways to accomplish these same tasks in other ways or you can turn to other arm amputees who are willing to share their solutions.
Flexibility and Balance
Though Jessica Cox was born without arms, she recently completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and she has two black belts in tae kwon do.
Jessica learned from an early age to use her feet as her hands.
Because she says arm prostheses can be cumbersome and are limited in what they can do, she recommends that bilateral arm amputees who decide to use them also learn how to do things without prostheses.
She also encourages other arm amputees to stay physically fit and flexible so that they can use their feet to accomplish tasks. Her own flexibility has been one of the keys to her ability to write and type with her feet, to put her contacts in her eyes with her toes, to drive her car, and even to buckle her seatbelt with her feet.
Balance is a second key, she says. When she was 3 years old, her mother enrolled her in gymnastics, and, at 6, she began taking tap dance classes. These helped her develop excellent flexibility and balance so that she can stand on one foot and use her other foot as an arm.
Independence Away From Home
John Foppe, who was also born without arms, is a well-known motivational speaker who travels all over the world to deliver seminars. As a result, he has had to learn to do things for himself, especially while traveling.
A Simple Technique for Many Occasions
A simple technique that can be used by arm amputees in many situations is to take an object that people would normally hold in their hand (a brush or cleaning pad, for example) and mount it on the wall.
Once a hairbrush is mounted, you can rub your head against it to brush your hair without hands. Similarly, you can hang a large pad on the shower wall and rub against it to clean your body.
A similar concept is used by arm amputees for cooking. You can, for example, have several nails driven through a cutting board. Then, with the sharp ends pointed upward, you can push a tomato or other food item onto the nails to hold it firmly so that you can cut it.
Some tasks are more difficult, however, and require technical solutions.
Tools, such as knives, forks, wrenches and screwdrivers, are made to be held in a hand, and even if a bilateral upper-limb amputee uses prostheses, he or she will probably have a difficult time using and controlling some of these items.
The N-Abler (now the N-Abler II) was invented to solve this problem. This device can easily be attached to the end of a prosthesis in place of an artificial hand or hook, enabling numerous specially made tools to be firmly attached to the prosthesis. (This device does not permanently replace the hook or hand; rather, it is a temporary addition to them.)
In some cases, the company that makes the N-Abler II will also produce custom-made tools for special tasks.
Jessica Cox, BS, is a motivational speaker. (www.rightfooted.com)
John Foppe is a professional speaker and the author of What’s Your Excuse? Making The Most Of What You Have (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2002). www.johnfoppe.com
Disclaimer: The following information is provided and owned by the Amputation Coalition of America and was previously published on the website http://www.amputee-coalition.org or the Coalitions Newsletter, inMotion.