By DEBORAH CONN
Function After Finger Loss Washington manufacturer offers choices to individuals with digital amputation
AKED PROSTHETICS, a maker
of functional, customized, body-driven prosthetic fingers, has developed several innovative devices over the years, all designed to restore function after finger amputation. The company’s original prosthesis, the PIP Driver, is designed for amputations just above the proximal interphalangeal joint (or PIP). The prosthesis is controlled by movement in the PIP joint and both restores function and protects the sensitive residual digit. In 2017, Naked Prosthetics released the MCP Driver (Gen 1), created for those with amputations through the proximal phalanx, the bone closest to the metacarpophalangeal joint, or knuckle, which drives the device. “The MCP Driver restores pinch, key, cylindrical, and power grasps,” says Bob Thompson, the company’s CEO. Next came the Thumb Driver, introduced in 2018, which enables users to make opposition grasps. The prosthesis is driven by the carpometacarpal (or CMC) joint, along with the MCP joint in the thumb. Naked Prosthetics’ most recent innovation is a grip lock device to address amputations through or just below the knuckles. Users can position the digit using a surface, such as their thigh or opposing hand, and then release it with a quick tap or by moving it to the full flexion release point. “These have totally changed the lives of people with finger amputations,” says Thompson. “Most digital amputations are the result
APRIL 2021 | O&P ALMANAC
A patient wears his Naked Prosthetics device to work with plants.
COMPANY: Naked Prosthetics OWNER: Privately held LOCATION: Olympia, Washington HISTORY: 10 years
Bob Thompson, CEO
Dulcey Lamotte, chief marketing officer
of construction and industrial accidents, and we can get people back to work, making a living and supporting their families.” All Naked Prosthetics devices are 3D-printed and customized to each user. They can be worn in any combination, making it easy to address the individual needs of each patient. The devices are designed to act like fingers, not look like them, says Dulcey Lamotte, chief marketing officer. Their open design allows the hand to breathe, and they can be cleaned with soap and water. All styles are available in a variety of color options. According to Lamotte, finger amputations receive far too little attention in the prosthetics arena. “Myoelectric arms and hands are big newsmakers, but 94 percent of upper-limb amputations happen at the digital and metacarpal level,” she says. “The degree of impairment in performing ADLs [activities of daily living] after finger amputation is high. According to the American Medical Association, losing the index and middle fingers
midmetacarpal creates a 40 percent impairment of the hand, 36 percent impairment of the upper extremity, and 22 percent impairment of the whole body. If you’re missing four fingers, it’s equivalent to a leg amputation or the loss of an eye in total impairment.” Naked Prosthetics occupies a former lumber storage facility in Olympia, Washington, built in 1920. The 20,000-squarefoot building features areas for production, engineering, administration, marketing, customer care, and clinical activities. The company sells only to prosthetists, but works to educate all members of the hand community: surgeons, rehabilitation centers, hand therapists, physical and occupational therapists, and emergency room doctors. “We want these professionals to reassure amputees that there is something out there to help them,” says Lamotte. “Losing part of a hand can be devastating to people who think they can never return to work. Just knowing we can help them regain function is sometimes literally a lifesaver.” Naked Prosthetics’ clinical team works closely with prosthetists in both evaluating and fitting patients, primarily through Zoom since the pandemic began. “We are here to support them throughout the process,” says Thompson. The company also serves as a billing resource for practitioners. Thompson is confident that the market will grow for digital prosthetics. “This won’t be a niche; there are more finger amputations than below-knee, and I believe that upper-limb prosthetics will approach lowerlimb in dollars spent within 20 years,” he says. “Prosthetists can add an enormous amount to their bottom line just treating a few patients a month.” Deborah Conn is a contributing writer to O&P Almanac. Reach her at email@example.com.