As it appears, I do consider what they call modern prosthetic arms - and I do wonder: what do these manufacturers consider "a life", what do they consider liveable, important, what are goals for them, how do they go about activities? Do they believe I, as the arm amputee they seem to see me as, am but a doll to them? Is becoming a doll what all research tries to achieve these days?
Hans Georg Näder, CEO of Otto Bock - one of the really big prosthetic component manufacturers and one of the biggest companies to technically (as well as in terms of customer service) discouraging people to wear body powered arms - himself is not into motored powered ships. He is not so much into electronic gadgets as in computerized solar powered vehicles or anything like that. He is not into remote controlled helicopters. He is not into new cell phones. Nothing similarly unnerving as the gadgets he tries to promote for us. No. Far from that. Get that: he is into yachts. The manual craft of sailing. That is probably also as close as body powered gets for a person like him, with a somewhat increased body mass index. Now, why would I regard things any differently? Why would Otto Bock not embrace that I see things just as their CEO?
Because one thing is for sure - no one with an osseointegrated or myoelectric bionic hand is fit for that type of thing. Criss-crossing the country side. Full pull, full push, full vibration, full sweat, all temperatures, full bangs.
Note: you will not get the juicy bits on camera here. Either I hold the camera while riding. Or I really ride the bike also using brakes and all. But for fast riding and downhill rides, I cannot at the same time record the events.
I just switched over the control parts of this mountain bike (Cube Limited 2011, a hard tail mountain bike with hydraulic Magura brakes) for left handed use.
Together with other works I did this over the course of the last few weeks, as it involved a bit of testing, finding the right position for the controls and trial and error. Also I used this to establish what I want for my road bike (currently work in progress, see future post). As I will have been getting quite a number of extra parts to set up the road bike (thumbies, cable stops, special brake levers, new brakes, etc), not using any particular extra parts for his one is a feature too.
When swapping bike pedals, screw torque can be a real problem to overcome. Here is one solution I found works very well.
I now upgraded my AWD / 4WD car option from Subaru "Impreza" 1,5L 2010 to my Dodge Magnum 5,7 L Hemi R/T AWD 2008. It does have power steering and automatic transmission, so all sweet with the technical requirements. Instead of 10-11L/100km as the Subaru used to, this car uses about 12-17L/100km for the urban / freeway mix that I usually drive. The Dodge's motor has something they call MDS multiple displacement system, so it switches off 4 cylinders to save gas.
How to put my phone in, so I could still use it with my (left) hand, that was the real question. The Proclip USA site contains (non-fitting) Chrysler 300C parts - and it contains stuff for the Dodge's middle console. But no cool A-pillar mount. So I tried something else.
In a few years, the choice of products I found useful for me, that are different from what other people that have, like, two hands, have boiled down to a few. It may be of interest to list these.
Summer is coming and I now get back to street biking (not just off road riding). As changing gear levers can be a bitch, I decided to go with an old bike with frame mounted gear levers (rather than handle bar mounted levers). So I bought this 1981 Gerber race bicycle. Very elegant.
Below, I post a few comments about buying and tweaking a Gerber 1981 road bike for usage with left hand and right sided Mert hand. Previous posts cover the brake lever and putting the Mert hand to use.
Of course we can tie our shoes in any such way (all resulting in the same):
- using one hand and stump (again) (learn how to do it)
- using a prosthetic hook
- using a prosthetic hand
- even using a ""bionic"" hand
But then, trying these options falls short of really resulting in a good walking experience for some reason.
However with all these great options listed above, you will not go anywhere. To be sky clear about it: you need no ""bionic"" hand (expensive) but you need to know your way around (priceless).
For starters, there are tie knot and lacing variations. Of course, normal shoe laces with a normal shoe lace tie still happen to fall apart once the tie is too loose. So what to do.
Our society in general tends to maintain a public space that is minimally accessible to "everyone". Much rather, it is minimally accessible to most people, statistically speaking.
That means, people that have difficulty reading small stuff, people with manual handicaps, people that are hard of hearing, wheelchair users and others are meant to have a hard time. By design, so to say.
So I was extremely surprised to realize that around 3-4 years ago, Hero marmalade glasses started to become a lot easier to open. Then I was very surprised to see how cash register clerks in supermarkets started to be increasingly helpful when one tries to lug stuff with just one hand and half arm or so. And then.... this? Supermarket carts with magnifying glasses?
If you look for more tips about modifying / using a bicycle with a below elbow amputation, check links regarding "bike" (LINK), "biking" (LINK), and "bike mods" (LINK). There is a longer article in German regarding bicycle modification (LINK).
I recently got a Mert Lawwill bike hand and after I found time to fix my bike, mount new tubes and get the Mert hand going, I immediately went for a test ride to see how it'd go.
It is safe to say that there were two improvements for my prosthetic within the last twelve months that definitely knocked the bottom out in terms of empowerment - one was the winter / cold weather modification where I installed mounting heating elements into the socket.
And the second one is the bike riding hand.
After I got a temporary self made mount installed I figured out its pros and cons. One problem was GPS reception, acceptable but not great. Another problem was that iTunes only works in portrait but not in landscape mode. Surely a glitch Apple overlooked (among others [link] [link]) but nevertheless a point to consider.
Last but not the least I wanted a rock solid slide-in solution, not a clip that required a bi-manual fiddle type activity of any sorts.
I always seem to have problems with keys. Mostly that is because I need my (left) hand to handle car door, luggage, door handles and other stuff. So the prosthetic needs to be able to hold on to and handle keys.
Recently I found that cable ties are great because they are dirt cheap, widely available and super useful.
Prosthetic culture has it that we now communicate through devices rather than person to person, particularly over distances greater than, say, 5 meters. The messenger boy has definitely lost significance these days. Even though some people still think that only prosthetic limbs and organs manage to reduce our humanity other people know that tools used to extend our range of action are integral part of humanity since thousands of years.
With that, there is an item sold also through Strapya [link] that allows the iPhone to be operated most conveniently: the Charger Stand for iPhone w/ Vintage Style Phone [link].
The iPhone is not too useful for some left handed people as it is almost impossible to unlock it on time. Apple is a failing small company that suffers from constant abuse of left handed amputees and so it makes perfect sense for them to stand up to my request (which I filed several times) and NOT change the unlock screen to something that is easier to manipulate. Instead they stubbornly manifest their superiority to PWD (people with disability). By that they surely and definitely come across as an extremely strong and powerful company. They want to be admired for refusing what they see as ridiculous attempts to water down their originality. Not that I need to experience this type of abuse but it adds to my daily experience to constantly miss out on phone calls that I cannot pick up in time because of Apple's idiotic product policies. That costs me some 20-30 CHF a year in phone call costs because I have to call back folks rather than being able to pick up the telephone. They could change their software real easily - but they don't change their software to accommodate amputees, being as superior and strong, as dominating and awesome as they are. They say: fuck you. That is Apple's attitude towards loyal customers that are PWD. I tried a few times now, and that is their conclusive answer. How admirable. Must be real sweeties working there.
But here we are, a third party hardware seller that helps me with the problem of fixing and holding the phone and also being able to use the phone for information retrieval while doing a phone call. Furthermore, dangerous phone radiation that threatens to fry your brain is kept at safe distance. Of course this item is only useful in single locations such as the office or so - but still: way cool. It would be even cooler if Apple was up for the job. But they were not there back in 2003 when everyone switched to full 64-bit computing except the guys developing OS X, when everyone started to buy fast and huge PCs rather than Macs, and when Apple started to genuinely miss out in the workstation area for a bunch of reasons - and now they are not there when loyal customers need them. What do you want, that's Apple.