Let’s start at the beginning, tell us about the first time you tried Coapt. For example, where were you, who were you with, what was it like, etc.?
July 2018, roughly 6 weeks after surgery, when test fitting my prototype cuff. After successfully testing the direct control equipped arm on the first day, my team converted the electronics in my prototype to Coapt and turned me loose with the virtual arm. I was immediately smitten. A giant leap forward compared to the direct control method. I wanted it then—that day.
Before you used Coapt, what were some of the pain points or difficulties in your day to day activities either using other prostheses (if applicable) or just in general living with a limb difference?
My first prosthetic with direct control was very unnatural to execute commands. Very counterintuitive. The device dictated the predetermined inputs to the user regardless of their unique challenges or strengths. The user had to serve the device rather than the device serving the user. The long-term potential appeared limited early in my user experience. My surgery provides me with five innervated sites on my upper arm (I’m a trans humerus amputee), while direct control would only use two of them for me to muscle pump morse code into my device. Pain points for sure.
With a Coapt system, what are some ways that your daily routine has changed for the better?
I can execute control of my device in a very efficient manner with minimal effort, intuitive command inputs, and smooth action that provides a natural dynamic feel accomplishing tasks.
What is your most memorable Coapt moment since becoming a Coapt user?
Ha! Giving myself an uppercut to the chin when I first used it alone at home. Honestly, my most memorable Coapt moment is yet to come. My goals are lofty, but my progress is inspiring.
What would your advice be for a first-time Coapt user?
Enact inputs naturally without straining. Strive to separate your inputs from each other—keep the wrist out of the hand input… etc. Key words to remember while training your command inputs and calibrating your device: Separate and Distinct
What are some of the biggest misconceptions you see about people living with a prosthesis?
They’re are physically compromised and incapable. Their appearance will scare children away. They need help with everything. The prosthesis is a barrier to physical contact and intimacy.
Plug yourself! What are you most proud of this year? Any milestones in your life? Any thing else that you’re eager to shout from the rooftops?
I’m most proud of the opportunity to aggressively strive for my goals with the belief that I have the best prosthetic tools to achieve them. I’ve waited to obtain the Coapt system and worked hard to prepare for its arrival. Knowing my potential is not limited by my equipment gives me pride and confidence as I move forward. I’m proud in the knowledge that my best of this year is yet to come.
What’s next for you – do you have any big or small goals on the horizon?
Continue my career as an art director at my studio at home or in the field. To work on my old British Sportscar. Get back on my motorcycle and maybe play a little pond hockey.
Finally, are there any other details about your Coapt experience or your experience living with a prosthesis you’d like to share?
For me, the reality of amputating my arm after losing so many abilities slowly over 40 extremely exciting active years—a result of radiation therapy as an 11 year old cancer patient—represented opportunity rather than tragedy. Opportunity to return to embrace the passions of my life again as good or even better than I was before. I believe that the Coapt system coupled with my prosthesis makes that possible.