Location: Lawrenceville, GA
Clinic: Fitted by Touch Life Center
Product: i-limb digits
Michael Bailey is a technology nut and always keeps up with the latest developments, but he never thought for one minute that he would become one of the first people in the world to be the recipient of an incredible new technology development.
A student at the ITT Technical Institute in Atlanta, Michael studies multimedia design and dreams of one day working as a video game designer. In his spare time, he works on his hobby, fixing cars.
"I feel most at peace when I'm getting my hands dirty working on a car," he says. "If any of my friends has a problem with their car, they just bring it on over and I see what I can do."
On March 5, 2008, Michael Bailey was working in a paper recycling plant, cleaning out an industrial paper baler as normal. A moment's lapse in concentration was to have horrific consequences as the machine trapped one of his hands in its mechanism.
"Well, the machine did what it was supposed to and that's how I ended up with my injury," says Michael, without a hint of bitterness.
As a result Michael lost three of the fingers on his left hand, plus half of the rest of his hand and five of the eight bones in his wrist.
"At first it seemed like it was the end of life as I knew it," says Michael. "But slowly I began to realize it was just a little speed bump on the road of my life."
It took about a month and a half for Michael to come to terms with his injury and get over the initial reaction and shock. Normal things that other people would take for granted became more difficult - more trips to the car for groceries, folding clothes, cleaning the house - but he eventually realized that there was more to life than his injury.
"It just kind of clicked that this wasn't the end, but possibly a new beginning," he says.
Michael underwent physical therapy for about six months following his injury, at which point his therapist introduced him to Robert S. Kistenberg, a prosthetist at Touch Bionics' Touch Life Center in Atlanta. Kistenberg explained the work the company was doing, especially its development of ProDigits. After establishing his suitability for the product, Michael worked closely with Robert to develop the molds and fittings required to build a custom ProDigits prosthesis for his injury, and he was fitted in July 2009.
"I had thought about prosthetics a little bit, but had no idea that companies like Touch Bionics were developing such advanced technology and so I was in complete awe when I found out about ProDigits," he says. "I've always been big on technology, so this was a real eye opener and incredibly exciting to be involved in."
Despite having never used a myoelectric prosthetic device before, Michael found adapting to ProDigits incredibly easy.
"Honestly, I had only put it on for five minutes and I was getting it to work just fine," he says. "It feels like it belongs there, like it's part of me."
Michael has a matt black high-tech computer modelled covering for ProDigits, which matches his carbon fibre socket covering for the device, rather than the flesh-tone options available from Touch Bionics.
"I like the way it looks - I get looks from people on the street and I like that!" he chuckles. Indeed, the reaction he has had from the people around him has been overwhelmingly positive.
Everyone was just as amazed as I was that this technology even existed - and they are all very happy for me and supportive because they know how much I love technology Michael Bailey
The main benefit of ProDigits for Michael is that it just makes simple things so much easier - picking things up while vacuuming, working on cars, even playing with his five year old son, Sean Patrick Bailey.
"All in all, the injury has actually helped me to appreciate things more and to notice the smaller, more important things in life," he says. "It was definitely a blessing in disguise - it's been a really unique and educational experience for me."