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Medtech Miracles and Tragedies: Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter Carter

As CEO of his own medical device startup, Andrew Carter is no stranger to the challenges of quality and innovation. A transradial (above the wrist) amputee and self-proclaimed gym rat, Carter created his own device, the Carter Cuff, as a way to allow patients with hand prostheses or impaired hand function to perform exercises with free weights, kettlebells, and other moves that would normally be impossible for them. He expects the Carter Cuff to hit the market in 2015.

Andrew lost his left hand in an electrical accident in 1984. “Just kids playing around,” he says matter-of-factly. Like many amputees at that time, his experience with prosthetics was limited to body-powered devices like the TRS Grip. Around 2008, Carter heard about the Michelangelo prosthetic hand being developed by Minneapolis-based Ottobock and knew he had to try it. The Michelangelo hand promised an as-yet-unheard-of level of replication of natural hand movement, including a flexible wrist and positionable thumb.

Carter says the wait was worth it. He spent so much time practicing with his new hand that he wore through two of them.

He says the Michelangelo is “second to none” in terms of speed, dexterity, and aesthetics. “It’s far and away the quickest hand out there,” he says. “At the time it was [released] it was the only [prosthetic hand] with a full thumb setting controlled by myoelectric impulse.” Small details make a big difference. “If you open the hand up really wide, then relax, the hand reverts back to the neutral position,” Carter says. “Before, prosthetic hands wouldn’t do that on their own.”

It’s a level of versatility and realism Carter finds valuable both in his day job as an attorney, handling lots of paperwork, and as he returns to playing ice hockey for the first time since the 1980s. “It has a flexible, floating wrist that’s weighted, so when you pick something up you can feel it. I didn’t have that for 28 years. When I put it on, I got my wrist back.”

 

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