Bionic Woman- Part 4 (Final Tweaks)

I’m glad you’ve hung in there with me through this long and tedious process! Here’s the July update…

On July 6th I drove the eighty miles to BioTech for a mid-morning appointment. I was amazed to see the transformation of my new arm in only fifteen days! (You’ll need to compare the “Bionic Woman- Part 3” picture to the one below for any of this to make sense.)

  • The transparent test socket was replaced with the permanent laminated one.
  • The cables on the upper arm were skillfully buried in the lamination.
  • The white elastic test harness was replaced with a skin-colored polyester-fiber harness.
  • The forearm cable was changed to enter on the topside of the hand rather than the underside of the hand to provide a smoother pull.
  • The Otto Bock hand was replaced by a Hosmer hand. I wanted a tighter grip and the inner mechanisms of the Hosmer hand allowed for adjustment of grip strength. This change was not externally visible.

July 6th Visit

I looked the arm over carefully for several minutes before slipping it on. “Nice!” I thought. “I just might get to wear this home today.” But as I began to open and close the hand, and lock and unlock the elbow, some minor problems surfaced. I wasn’t disappointed really. Tweaking is an expected part of the process.

  • A special cable needed to be ordered for the forearm.
  • The ring on the harness (see the picture) had to be covered with padding—when I operated the arm, the straps moved on the ring and pinched my skin between them. Ouch!
  • The lamination on the upper arm left a narrow circle of silver exposed above the elbow. I asked if it could be painted a skin tone. Brian, my prosthetist, said they could mix the tint that they used in the lamination with some epoxy and paint it for me.

On July 20th I returned to Birmingham once again. The BioTech Team had resolved every problem above! And while I was there…different ones appeared.

  • The hand squeaked when I opened and closed it. I can live with a lot of things, but squeaking isn’t one of them.
  • The grip still wasn’t strong enough. When I used my Ergo Elbow to raise the forearm, the hand involuntarily opened. This caused me to drop things.
  • A cosmetic glove goes over the hand and forearm to make them look real. The glove was too tight and prevented me from rotating the hand at the wrist. I need to rotate my hand to a different position when I type.
  • I wasn’t happy with the way the forearm looked bumpy under the cosmetic glove. Brian said they could try to bury the forearm cable.

Cosmetic glove that covers hand and forearm

So I still haven’t brought my new body part home. But that’s ok. All it should take is a few more tweaks…and a few more tweaks…and a few more tweaks…


But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18 (NIV)

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