Local clinic giving help to those without limbs

Updated: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Local clinic giving help to those without limbs story image

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Imagine living life without an arm.

Now, that challenge is being made easier, thanks to a local clinic.

Tuesday, Newschannel 3 got our first look at the robotic arm that's changing lives right in Kalamazoo.

At the Hanger Clinic, amputees have been coming to learn about the new technology.

They're meeting with experts, and a woman who's been using the arm.

Torri Biddle says her life has been forever changed by the device, and she's excited to help other amputees learn all about the things it can do.

Growing up, Torri refused to let a disability get in her way of living life.

"I was born without my right arm," she explains. "I just never really thought I was different anyway, my family and friends treated me the same way."

She had prosthetic arms, but a lot of them were a hassle to use.

"Before I would see my friends do things faster than I did, and it bothered me a lot," Torri said.

The 19-year-old from the Toledo area got a big surprise when her friends started a social media campaign to get her a robotic arm.

"They ened up surprising me at this conference," Torri said. "It was a fast, crazy experience."

The special arm came from the Hanger Clinic, in Kalamazoo, and Torri says it's very easy to use.

"Simple things like tying my shoes, putting my hair, it helps, curling my hair, making ice cream cones because I work in an ice cream place," she said.

Craig Jackman, a prosthetics expert with Hanger, says the new technology just came out in the past two years.

"Basically, what happens is you have muscles in your limb, and we're putting electrodes or sensors on the limb, so when you fire those muscles there's electrical           impulses, and we're able to pick up those electrial impulses which sends them to the computer in the hand which interprets what you're trying to accomplish," he said.

Torri can even control her bionic arm using an iPod.

Local amputees have been coming in to talk to Jackman and see how the arm works.

From there, they can see if it's a good fit for them.

"Seeing someone use their prosthesis or hold something for the first time, or hug their dad for the first time, it's a powerful moment, and the reason why you do what you do," Jackman said.

"It's definitely boosted my confidence level, and everything else like that," Torri said.

A video of Torri's story has been posted on YouTube.

If the video gets more than 1 million hits, the Hanger Clinic will give a robotic hand to another amputee.

You can click here to see it and share it for yourself.

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