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The gift of building new arms

Jordan and I are in the middle of our seventh round of prosthetic building. It’s nowhere close to as emotionally exhausting as it used to be. We don’t work with a company that is close to home because no one near us has the intense knowledge of upper limb technology as our prosthetist, Dave Rotter. We’ve worked with him at Scheck & Siress since Jordan was a couple of months away from three years old.

prosthetic-arm-child-size

Can you believe the size change from five years ago?

This round of building is interesting. We have followed an every 18-month cycle of building arms for Jordan but I didn’t have the time to do that this year. We had to wait a full two years. That meant Jordan really stopped wearing her arms in February because she grew out of them. Also, for the first time in five years, we’re rebuilding Jordan’s activity arm. (Check out the crazy difference in size.)

We’re close to wrapping up the building process for Jordan’s next arms. Yesterday, she got to start using her new activity arm – it will make it possible for her to have an easier time riding her bike, kayaking, using a scooter and even using a jump rope. It’s also super sparkly. Jordan has evolved from using fabric of pink Disney princesses to Hello Kitty to an all-out sparkly blue fabric. I’m excited for her because it’s really pretty.

monkey-bar-prosthetic-testAs we go through building arms, Jordan has had the chance to give more input and really explain what she wants, what feels comfortable and ideas for activities she wants to do with the help of prosthetics. It’s exciting to watch. I think the most interesting was watching her work with Dave to find a solution to her long-term goal of using monkey bars. They spent a lot of time identifying her upper body strength and gauging what it would take to make to build something that could help her. After a lot of climbing and pulling, they concluded that Jordan needs to build more upper body strength before Dave can build anything. It’s tricky since Jordan will probably finally gain enough strength by the time she’s past the monkey bar stage in her life. But I love watching her motivated. We’re going to look for ways to build more muscle and that will only just help her body get stronger no matter what.

Even more exciting is watching Jordan learn how she can benefit from emerging technologies for upper limb prosthetics. It’s all a learning experience and I’m glad she’s starting to be able to get involved in seeing and learning what kind of tools are available to her in the future.

We are incredibly fortunate to have an insurance policy that helps us build prosthetics. I know there are other families that may not have as much financial support but I know organizations like Shriners Hospital make it possible for many kids. That’s why I feel like prosthetics are a gift. Even while I work with the Scheck & Siress team to convince my company that it’s unreasonable to have a policy to pay for new prosthetics every three years for children, I still feel like getting access to tools for Jordan is a gift.

As she continues to grow up, she’s benefitting from prosthetics so Jordan can enjoy being a kid. Watching her use a scooter around Chicago is so much fun. It’s even more fun watching her scoot with a new sparkle arm. Prosthetics or no prosthetics… There’s no stopping this kid!
prosthetic-arm-scooter-city

prosthetic-arm-scooter-smiles

4 Comments

  1. Nikki Jennino on July 15, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Jen,
    Ruby’s 2nd Helper arm (her first moveable one) has the same design as Jordan’s old Activity Arm!! Cute!!! I would paste a picture, but my computer is not cooperating now!!
    Cheers,
    Nikki

  2. Amber Jagelman on October 19, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Hi, my name is Amber, i am from Australia
    I am undertaking a design project for my engineering degree, which is designing
    a prosthetic arm for a young boy in my local area, he is two years old and would love to
    be able to participate in activites such as, bikes and scooters. During my research I have came across and been inspired by your blog and how you’re helping your daughter with her prosthetic arm. I was wondering if you could share some information on the materials that you use for the prosthetic and mainly how you attach the arm so strongly.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Amber Jagelman

    • Jen Lee Reeves on October 25, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Amber! We worked with a prosthetist to build Jordan’s current helper arms. It’s a plastic resin used in the industry. I’d recommend visiting a local prosthetic company to see how it’s made. It’s stronger than the plastics used from 3D printing.

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