Patient Stories: Oscar

Oscar was 4.5 when he lost both his arms below the elbow. He and his older brother were playing with fireworks when he went to grab one that they thought was a dud. Since then, his mom has passed away and he now lives with some friends in Panajachel, Guatemala. Oscar has been living without the use of his hands for eight years now. He still needs help getting dressed in the morning, especially putting on socks, but he’s figured out a ways to do things on his own with his residual limbs, like eat and even write in school. Oscar is just a boy! He loves playing soccer and has a lot of friends at school that are happy to help him when he’s struggling with something as simple as tying a shoe. A year and a half ago, he was given a pair of prosthetic arms with hooks and a harness to use, but neither functioned properly.

A woman named Rochelle saw Oscar in the shop his caretakers own and knew right away that ROMP could help him. The hooks on his arms weren’t working because there wasn’t enough tension in the harness. The sockets were too long, making it difficult to fully bend at the elbow to do simple things like eat. Rochelle took pictures of Oscar to send to ROMP’s staff in Zacapa. Oscar was shy but receptive to Rochelle’s offer to help.

A few weeks later they were in ROMP’s clinic getting evaluated. One of ROMP’s key volunteers, Dave Rotter, who is an expert at upper extremity cases, reviewed Oscar’s case and worked hard refitting his prosthetic arms and remaking a harness that would work. After one day, Oscar was working with a volunteer physical therapist on relearning how to use his arms. He is determined to use his prostheses as much as possible and spent a whole day in the clinic learning how to dress, eat, write, and use the toilet with his new hook system. He told us that he’s most excited about having hooks that work so he can eat with his prostheses! The smile on his face said it all.

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