The past week brought Matthew back to earth, literally, and reminded him about the vulnerability that can come with being disabled. It also reminded him of the support and great community he is surrounded by. While wheeling the boys home from school, Matthew’s wheelchair overbalanced while going up a hill thanks to a little extra weight on the back(!).
The wheelchair did a backflip and pinned Will’s hand to the ground underneath the chair, while Matthew hung suspended upside down thanks to an excellent seatbelt. Luckily the incident occurred on a corner just up the road from school, so what seemed like a million parents came from everywhere to help and upright Matthew, the chair, and Will. Everyone and the chair was OK, but a good lesson learned about weight on the back of the chair and hills. Thanks to everyone who came to Matthew’s aid. No more wheelies for this bunch.
But now for the good news.
The season has turned and summer is almost upon us. With that comes the idea of Christmas, and for Matthew, that may bring the arrival of his new hands. He says it’s a bit like working at snail’s pace, but at least it is forward. He has been increasing the weight on his training prostheses (currently at 1.35 kilograms per arm, up from a starting weight of 50 grams, and increasing at 100 grams per week). When the weight he can carry/lift on these is 1.45 kilos, he won’t be able to fit any more weight onto the prostheses, and he will need to move to the next phase, which is longer arms with bionic hands. This will include a manual elbow and fixed wrist. It will allow him to grab and hold things, and maybe even scratch where he currently can’t reach.
The next stage offers the chance to do a bit more, although he will need a bit of help to get set up. However, once the hands are on, we’re hoping there’s a chance for Matthew to help carve the roast on Christmas Day. Here’s a look at one of the hands Matthew is looking at.
With the help of his prosthetics and osseointegration teams, Matthew has been given great information. He has one more hand to trial before he makes his decision. Once he has the new hand/s, he will need to build weight again before he can put on the motorised elbow and wrist units. He says it still feels weird to go ‘arm shopping’.
Recently there was some exciting news from the team in Sweden who developed the osseointegration technology in Matthew’s arms. They successfully directly connected the prosthetic to a patient’s nerves and the outcomes after a year seem successful. This is something that may not be available to Matthew for a few years, but it’s great to know what is out there. Here are a few links:
http://www.svt.se/nyheter/vetenskap/svensk-forst-i-varlden-med-robotarm [This one’s in Swedish but you get the picture.]
While Matthew doesn’t want to get too excited, he figures any slight improvement will be a good thing. His progress is being supported by lots of dedicated people in a variety of fields, who seem to be enjoying the opportunity to work on something so unique and we are all in turn buoyed by their enthusiasm and feel lucky to be in great hands (excuse the pun).
So there is progress, and we will keep you posted.