At last, after four weeks of wrestling with the options, I have made a decision. At 9 a.m. tomorrow morning I am calling BioTech to order my new arm!
I received such great input, information, and encouragement from so many people. I got emails, Facebook comments and messages, tweets, and even a few phone calls. Some friends batted the options back and forth with me in person, helping me think through everything thoroughly. I’m very grateful.
Hearing from two prosthetists (those who make prostheses) and several fellow prosthesis-wearers, I gathered these influential facts about the myoelectric arm:
- The cost is higher than I originally estimated—$33,000 instead of $25,000.
- It is heavy, possibly up to double the weight of my present body-powered (cable-operated) arm.
- It is likely to break down more often than my present arm-type. This is a huge consideration as I have to drive eighty miles one way and use a personal day from work for each repair.
- Parts and repairs are more expensive, too. My insurance only covers $2500 per year. On a $33,000 arm, that probably wouldn’t fix one finger.
- The suction socket, that would hold the arm on and allow me to get rid of the harness across my back, is tight…very tight. I don’t do tight. I can’t stand the feeling of tight clothes. Spandex suffocates me.
- Batteries have to be recharged often. One wearer commented, “When the battery dies, you basically have a door stop.”
Based on these facts, among others, I am going with a body-powered arm. I look forward to the cosmetic improvements now available, such as flesh-colored bolts and cables buried out of sight. I am also getting a new type of elbow—the Ergo Elbow. It has an internal balance system that will make lifting the forearm easier.
It is fun for me to share this adventure with you! I will keep you posted. And a special shout-out goes to the team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Mrs. J.’s students in Indianapolis who are following the process.
Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed. Proverbs 15:22 (MSG)