Meet Nicole

Letโ€™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.?

I first tried Coapt when I attended a prosthetics conference in Chicago. I was approached and asked to try Coapt’s product. I had written off using prosthetics while using my last device in high school, but to be polite I said I was willing to try. I sat down in a chair and was hooked into the Coapt test device. Once I was hooked into the device, Blair talked me through the process of training the Coapt device. We trained the hand, in real time, together and once it was finished Blair said, “Ok you’re in control.” My eyes bugged out of my head as instantly I was able to control the device. I was in shock that prosthetic could feel intuitive and not heavy or “in the way.” In a matter of 5 minutes I was fully convinced that Coapt was something I needed in my life.

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?

Having been born with just one hand, I had no choice but to learn how to do everything in my own adaptive way. Even still, there were a few activities that I always relied on others to help me with – my favorite small example is using a salt and pepper grinder. I ALWAYS had to rely on others to grind my salt and pepper. Coapt allows me freedom and independence to do this on my own. I know it sounds small – but imagine thousands of “small” things like this that I now have independence in. It changes everything.

With a Coapt system, what are some ways that your daily routine has changed for the better?

Coapt gives me the ability to quickly switch from using my right hand and left arm to using my right hand and bionic left hand. I am easily able to switch back and forth with ease, allowing me to incorporate the device into my day in a way that works best for the way my body functions. Additionally, Coapt gives me the power to control my device in real-time. On my prosthetic, I have buttons that allow me to turn it on and off and allow me to recalibrate. This type of control gives me freedom from constantly having to contact my prosthetic clinic in order to “fix” my prosthetic.

What is your most memorable Coapt moment since becoming a Coapt user?

My favorite memory with Coapt was attending the Amputee Coalition conference with the team. I loved this opportunity because I was able to proudly be a part of a team that, in real-time, was testing potential users. I saw myself and my first experience with Coapt in every person who came to our booth. I knew how quickly my 5-minute visit to the Coapt booth had changed my life and it was surreal to be on the other side of the table helping share the product with others. The Coapt team is amazing and I feel such pride when I am with them in professional spaces.

Woman with a Coapt-equipped prosthesis climbing a tree

What would your advice be for a first-time Coapt user?

My advice is to give yourself grace. Don’t beat yourself up if you have three days where you don’t use the device and need a mental or physical break from learning the new device. There is no right way to integrate this product into your life so allow your body and mind to lead. I promise it works well enough that you will continue to come back to it until you have fully integrated it into your life.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions you see about people living with a prosthesis?

I think people assume I wear my prosthetic for 12 hour a day. That is false. I take my device on and off constantly. I use my prosthetic for many things, but I also DON’T use it for many things. That is ok. It is in my life to be a tool so I should be allowed to use it in situations where I need a tool.

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?

This year I was invited to speak or consult in a handful of influential spaces – Google, Microsoft, and Riot Games. I am so proud of these opportunities as I feel like I have a big story to tell and I want the opportunity to tell it in change-making spaces! (I also got engaged to a really good guy, so I am very excited to plan a wedding!)

Nicole walking on the beach

Whatโ€™s next for you – do you have any big or small goals on the horizon?

I love speaking and educating in cooperative spaces. I hope to continue receiving opportunities to step into influential spaces in order to bring the disability voice to a larger group of people.

Finally, are there any other details about your Coapt experience or your experience living with a prosthesis youโ€™d like to share?

I encourage people to just give it a try. I had written off using a prosthetic completely and only tried Coapt “to be nice.” But the product has changed my life and I encourage you to keep your mind open to a world where “Star Wars technology” really exists.

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