A 25-year-old Idaho man who lost his arm in a gruesome sawmill accident has received a one-of-a-kind bionic prosthesis.
In July 2015, Sam Rosecrans was working to clear woodchips from a conveyor belt when a tear in the belt caught the back of his glove, pulling his hand to the end of the machine and tearing off his entire arm just above the shoulder.
“I turned around, and I saw my arm hanging there,” he told KATU. “I grabbed it, turned around and looked out looking for somebody to help me.”
After the accident, Rosecrans said he lost consciousness and woke up in a hospital bed. He said he was “thankful” because he didn’t know if he’d survive, but he soon found out the limitations that came with losing a limb.
“Try to do things one-handed, you just can’t do it,” he said. “So, ultimately I wanted to do things on my own again and have my independence.”
Rosecrans demonstrated his abilities with his new arm in Portland on Tuesday with Advanced Arm Dynamics, where technicians create custom prosthesis.
With his bionic arm, Rosecrans has “full control of the elbow, the hand and an electric rotator on the side,” said Advanced Arm Dynamics technician MacJulian Lang.
“The challenge was to fit a prosthesis that is relatively symmetrical to his body, but then also has the function of an arm,” Lang said.
The electronic prosthesis can read Rosecran’s movements using two surface-sensing electrodes. To raise his arm, he simply flexes his muscle, Rosecran said while demonstrating the movement.
The $130,000 device is powered by a lithium-ion battery and is made mostly from plastics and carbon fiber. It weights 7 pounds and takes seconds to put on.
As an enthusiast for the outdoors, Rosecrans said he had to re-learn how to tie fishing lures with one hand. But, he’s happy to have use of two arms again.
“I can’t believe what I can actually do with this,” he said. “To me, it’s just an arm now.”
There are less than two above-the-shoulder amputations each year, Lang said. Rosecran will continue to split his time between Idaho and Portland while he continues training on his new arm.