prosthetic-armI’ve written about the fantastic ideas and developments coming from the open source group, eNABLE. It’s an international group of makers developing prosthetics using 3D printers and other ingenious methods to make prosthetics more affordable and accessible. It’s redefining prosthetics and the expectations of what is possible for people in the limb difference world.

So recently, the U.S. Veteran’s Administration launched an Innovation Challenge – a three-city tour encouraging makers across the country to develop prosthetics and assistive devices that could benefit veterans. And whatever comes from the event, those developments will also be made available to the general public.

I’m kind of obsessed with what the VA is doing with this event. The whole idea is to amplify and accelerate the innovation process to help disabled veterans. You can see a list of the finalists ideas that will be part of the challenge this week in Richmond, Virginia. I am in Washington, DC this week for work, not far from Richmond. It absolutely kills me that work meetings will prevent me from attending this event. But if you are in the area, you are welcome to attend any time this Tuesday and Wednesday. The ultimate will be at 5pm on Wednesday, July 29th when the winners are announced. Seriously, if you’re in the area, please go for me. Tell me all about it. I’m so so sad to miss this awesome event. You can sign up online for free.

The goals of the event are incredible and I really hope I can continue to follow and eventually attend events like these. Any one of us can be the mind that develops the next awesome improvement for prosthetics and assistive devices. I can’t wait to see what happens after the VA Innovation Challenge.

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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.

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The gift of building new arms

July 15, 2015

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. […]

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Different is Awesome Giveaway

July 7, 2015

Books and photos are two of my favorite ways to help kids better understand a physical difference. Each year, Jordan and I put together a short photo book that tell her story and help her classmates better understand how she lives with one hand. I think that’s why I’m extra excited for my friend, Ryan […]

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The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team Kids Camp Experience

June 18, 2015

When Jordan was invited to the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) Kids Camp, I was sad it took place the same weekend as Camp No Limits Missouri… I actually stopped and talked to Jordan about deciding between the two. We both knew WWAST camp was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And oh boy, it really was. […]

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Spending time with the Wounded Warriors

May 28, 2015

Jordan is less than two weeks away from an amazing opportunity. She gets the chance to work on her softball skills and get to know the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. It’s incredible. We are flying to California to spend a week with the team and 19 other kids and their parents. Jordan will have […]

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That time I bought a house while I was at Walt Disney World

May 20, 2015

Right before I left to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (DisneySMMC), Randy and I stumbled into the best house in the whole world. He’s wanted to move out of our current house for a long time. I’ve been standing ground. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to deal with the drama. […]

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Learning from Disney Parks

May 8, 2015

I’m attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Today is a day full of learning from some of the park’s finest creative minds and other smart people as the hand picked group of attendees also learn from each other. It’s a really awesome opportunity that I’ve followed online for a number of […]

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A hard-headed update

May 5, 2015

My mom visited this past week and it was SO great to have her in town. It’s also so interesting to have her around to watch our household dynamics from an “outsider” perspective but since she isn’t really an outsider, she’s able to actually tell me what she sees. You know, she noticed Jordan is […]

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GIVEAWAY: Mother’s Day cards from #lovehallmark

May 4, 2015

Disclosure: Hallmark Cards sent me a set of Mother’s Day cards to review for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed from here on are my own. I’m headed into a crazy month of travel where I’m missing time with the family for Mother’s Day and my birthday. So it was really great to have […]

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Making things official with Camp No Limits

May 1, 2015

Earlier this month, I celebrated the announcement of a really special fundraiser for Camp No Limits. You know, the summer camp that means so much to our entire family. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium offered to match $20,000 if the Camp No Limits board raises $20,000. I’m even more excited about this fundraiser because I’m honored […]

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New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

April 30, 2015

I’m one week away from attending the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration (#DisneySMMC) at Walt Disney World. Leading up to the event, I’m sharing details about Walt Disney World adventures I haven’t shared yet on Born Just Right. I’ve shared Jordan’s 9th birthday at Magic Kingdom Park, our Wild Africa Trek experience, tips for doing Disney with one hand and fun […]

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Looking for ways to help Nepal

April 29, 2015

If we learned anything after the terrible earthquake in Haiti five years ago, it was that a tragedy like this causes so many amputations. I know this is true as well in Nepal after a 7.9 quake killed thousands – so many that the death toll may be unknown for a long time. But we […]

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A new level of softball

April 28, 2015

Game on! Jordan’s softball season kicked off last night and she was very excited. She has the new baseball shoes, the cool pair of shorts, new hat, shirt and a batting glove. Even better? She is focused to do her very best. Her team launched into their first year of machine pitch softball and it […]

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Trust your gut every time

April 27, 2015

This past week, I had a chance to hang out in Portland, Oregon for a work trip. The cool part about working for an east coast organization while visiting the west coast, if you wake up super early and keep up with the east coast meetings and schedule, you can still enjoy the day. I […]

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