Lately I’ve been hearing from a lot of parents regarding the use of a prosthetic arm for their child.
Let me share my experience.
I had a number of prosthetic arms as a kid. First, there was the one that looked like a flesh-colored mitten. Oh, there it is, to the left of this sentence. Looks pretty good, right? I have no idea how that was attached to my body. Those are some pretty rad faces, though.
Then there was the hook arm. The hook arm was what I used most as a kid. I also hit a kid in the head with it when I was in elementary school because he made me mad. He started bleeding. It was cool, though, because I told the teachers he tripped me and it was an accident. Not my best moment.
Here are some awesome pictures of the hook arm (read to the end so you don’t miss the amazing[ly embarrassing] video):
1) Nice wall-paper.
2) Bieber-hair before Beiber-hair was a thing.
3) Is that high-chair legal?
4) Sweet candle.
5) WHAT’S IN THE BAG???
Now THAT is a chair. Oh, and you have to admit that this is a pretty cute picture.
This one is in here mostly just because it’s one of my favorite pictures of me and my dad. Thanks for indulging me.
I don’t remember this bike very well. I wish I did. I actually wish I had this bike still.
Ok, when I first saw this picture, it freaked me out. That hand looks super real! I also wish you could see that sweatshirt. It was a “spring break” motif with people doing inappropriate things. Why did I have that?? Oh…and ORIGINAL NINTENDO. ‘Nuff said. (I still have it, too. Box and all.)
Now that I’ve established myself as an expert on the topic, I’ll share my advice:
Do whatever you think is right.
I haven’t used a prosthesis in at least fifteen years; probably longer. I appreciate that my parents had me use one as a kid, though. They gave me every opportunity to try it and see if it was for me. And it was…for a while. For a long while, in fact. I used that hook arm a lot. And when it came time to use the myoelectric arm, I thought it was awesome. It was like I was a bionic man! Here, look how happy I was with it:
And while it’s true that I thought it was cool at first, let me give you a little behind the scenes on that news piece. I never played with LEGOS with that arm in real life. And I never played basketball with that arm on. Did you see how awkward I looked on that last shot? Yeah, I didn’t even make that basket; they edited it that way. Also, my prosthetist did not moonlight as the creator of the Peanuts gang, just so we’re clear.
The truth is, I used to get in trouble for taking my arm off at school and leaving it in my locker. I used to hate having to practice flexing the muscles in my left arm just right so the hand would open and close. It was cumbersome to me. I was a kid and I just wanted to play. And the main reason it didn’t do it for me: I could already do everything I needed and wanted to do, so why learn another way?
I hope this isn’t coming across as ungrateful. My point is just that, a prosthetic arm didn’t improve my life. I appreciate that my parents had me use them as a kid. I don’t resent it at all. But, in the long run, it wasn’t for me.
My true advice to parents of limb different kids is to just do your best. Explore all your options and give them some thought. Your child can’t make decisions for himself yet, so you’ll have to. And if you love them enough to want what’s best, that’s enough. At some point, when they get to an age where they can tell you what they prefer, listen to them. I would say to be careful about forcing them to do anything when it comes to prosthetics (once they get to an age where they can have a rational discussion with you about it).
And again, I don’t use one, but that’s simply my preference. One time a gentleman suggested I get a prosthetic for aesthetic purposes, “so you do better in interviews.” He was trying to be helpful. I told him, “If an employer doesn’t hire me because I have one arm, that’s their problem, not mine.” That’s me, though. Maybe a prosthetic arm would give your child an added sense of confidence. They’ll let you know.
So, do your best. Love your child. Be ready to listen to them. And value what they tell you.
If you have/had a prosthetic, share your experience. If you’re a parent of a limb different child, please share your experience, too!