A whole new arm experience

prosthetic-pediatric-elbow-congenitalJordan has focused a lot of her prosthetic use on specific tasks – mainly activities like biking and kayaking. Her new joy with her new activity arm is using a scooter all over the place. But the biggest reason we use prosthetics is to help her body do more bi-manual motions – gross and fine motor. An activity arm can offer some of those movements, but it’s focused on specific tasks. It doesn’t have an elbow or offer Jordan a ton of reasons to move both of her arms equally.

That’s how her “elbow arm” comes into the picture. Before now, the arm has needed a sleeve to connect to her arm and the prosthetic has fit almost all the way up to her shoulder. She has worn a figure 8 harness over both shoulders to help manage the weight and function of the arm. That fit has helped her learn how to use a prosthetic but it has never been something she’s chosen to wear. It’s not that comfortable. It’s not that functional. But I’ve encouraged her to wear it a little a day to help her body function a little more like a two-handed body and give her shoulder time off. (She uses it most of the time like it’s her elbow. Shoulders weren’t made to function like elbows so it deserves a break.) We call it our “Winter the Dolphin theory.”

Fast forward to her newest arm that we’ve worked on building for the last week. Jordan is getting bigger and stronger and that means Dave Rotter, her prosthetist, is able to use different tools to build her new elbow arm. This time around, he’s using a plastic that can suction onto her arm without the use of the sleeve. It holds onto her bone to maintain the ability to hold an elbow, forearm and “hand.” Because it’s holding onto her arm so closely, it doesn’t need to fit as high up and that means Jordan has a tremendous amount of motion with the help of her arm’s rotation at the shoulder. Here’s an example:


To me, this video is so remarkable. Not only is she able to move better and use her hand for more fine motor skills, her shoulder harness that she uses to open and close the hand only needs to go around her right shoulder. It’s a figure 9 harness instead of a figure 8. That means fewer straps for Jordan to need to put over her clothes. A little extra style for a kids who is getting a little extra mindful about her style.

I’m stunned and excited about these developments and Jordan hasn’t even gotten the finished arm yet. That should happen later today before we leave Chicago. It’s so exciting. Next stop: Nubability Athletics camp so Jordan can focus more on her two favorite sports: basketball and softball.


  1. […] and Maine. Jordan and I spent a week and a half in Chicago and Southern Illinois building a new round of helper arms and attending Nubability Athletics camp. (Where Jordan had a chance to help mentor younger players. […]

  2. […] a lot about traditional prosthetic advancements. I learned even more while Jordan and I built her newest prosthetic arm this summer. I’ve also had a chance to get to know the growing 3D printing communities […]

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