Frank Hrabanek

Age: 59
Location: Barrie, ON
Occupation: Most recently a factory worker, trained as a veterinarian for horses in his home country of Czech Republic, later drove a taxi, and worked as an international journalist.
Clinic: Fitted by West Park Healthcare Centre, Prosthetics and Orthotics Service, Toronto, ON
Product: i-limb digits

Background

When Frank Hrabanek and his wife Zlata moved to Canada in 1990, the country was in the midst of a deep recession. With English as his second language and a scarcity of available jobs, he took work outside his previous fields, becoming a worker in a factory in his adopted hometown of Barrie, Ontario.

In his spare time, he gardened outdoors at their home, while Zlata worked indoors cooking and cleaning when she wasn't working as a nurse. In addition to gardening, he loved to fix cars.

It was while at work on June 30, 2007, the day before Canada Day, that Frank suffered an industrial accident. The accident caused third-degree burns and eventually resulted in the amputation of all four fingers and knuckles on his left hand; his thumb, however, was saved.

The impact on Frank and his wife's lives was immeasurable.

"It was a very difficult time for me and for my family," said Frank. "The impact both physically and mentally was horrible. Like many victims of trauma, I suffered severe post-traumatic depression and had trouble sleeping. I needed to heal mentally and physically, seeing doctors to take care of my physical wounds and a psychologist. After eight months, my physical wounds healed and now, two years after my accident, I am finally much better."

"The doctors thought it was 100 per cent certain that Frank would get gangrene and that more of his hand would need to be amputated," said Zlata. "I am a nurse and so I spent at least an hour every day working on Frank's wounds, changing dressings, taking off dead tissue three times a day. Luckily, because of this, he didn't get gangrene and he was able to keep what remained of his hand."

Treatment

The Hrabaneks have nothing but good things to say about Frank's treatment at West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto. The Prosthetics and Orthotics Service at West Park first fit Frank with a mechanical hook device that enabled him to hold rakes and shovels and get back to his gardening if only in a limited capacity. Then West Park fitted Frank with ProDigits.

In March of 2009, Frank's physiatrist at West Park, Dr. Michael Devlin, supported his application to Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for funding of a new prosthesis. Frank then received his ProDigits in June.

Having never used a myoelectric prosthetic, Frank is adjusting to using his ProDigits, receiving regular occupational therapy and realizing what functionality he has regained in just a few short months with the device. He has made great progress so far and sees the potential for the future.

"Recently, I had to go to Toronto without Frank," said Zlata. "I was pleasantly surprised when I came home and Frank had cooked dinner, all by himself, cutting the vegetables and everything. He is much more independent since receiving ProDigits and that gives me a lot more freedom. An injury like this doesn't just happen just to the victim, but to their whole family."

"I am learning how to write again; I was left handed before the accident," said Frank. "The ProDigits allow me to garden again - cutting the grass, the flowers, planting the pots. It's too late in the season now but I can't wait until next summer when I can try fishing with my ProDigits."

Two years after my accident, life is 100 per cent different. ProDigits has changed my life. I cannot change what happened to my hand, but since I got the new hand, I have been on cloud nine Frank Hrabanek