Carson Miller was born without a left hand, but that never stopped him from living his life.
When he was old enough for a prosthesis, Miller went to the Shriner Hospital for Children in Los Angeles. He was going every month to get the prosthesis, a claw, fitted, but at 7 years old, Miller decided that he didn't want it.
"It was ineffective and didn't help me in anyway. It just detrimented me if anything, because it made me look different and feel different," he said.
Enough was enough, so at a young age Miller decided to adapt to his life by using only one hand.
Now in his 20s, he has been experiencing some joint pain.
"Having to adapt all those years has really taken a lot of strain and stress on my body. That was when I realized that I should probably look into getting a prosthetic that was actually more functional," he said.
His research pointed him in the direction of the Hanger Clinic in San Luis Obispo. The clinic specializes in orthotic and prosthetic services with a goal of empowering human potential.
Matt Robinson is the chief technology officer and clinic manager for the San Luis Obispo location. He said the local team helps patients address skeletal-muscular issues including flat head syndrome, scoliosis, prosthetics for amputations, and pediatric treatment of neuromuscular conditions.
Walking into his first appointment, Miller was asked how the clinic could help him and meet his needs. He said he felt like he had support from the specialists on his decisions.
"Everywhere else, it felt like they were trying to take control of what they thought was best for me, and that never worked," he said. "It's probably the best experience I've had in my life."
Robinson said the clinic strives to "become more proficient at what we do, make sure our clients have a understanding of what we do and how we can help their need." He said the clinic's job is to identify the best design, fit, and function for the patient.
On Jan. 22, Miller had just left an appointment at Hanger when he spoke to New Times over the phone. After a few visits he said he was able to test a prosthesis. Miller said that by thinking of the movement and flexing the limb of the muscle, an electrical impulse produced movement in the fingers and hand.
The next step for Miller is how to fund the prosthetic, which can cost upwards of $40,000 because it has more functionality—movement of the fingers and wrist—than a claw. His parents' health insurance will cover some of the cost, but there's still a huge amount that needs to be paid for before he can get his prosthesis.
Aside from working and saving his earnings, Sabrina Linn Ayesh, a friend of Miller's, started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds to contribute to the purchase of the prosthesis and any potential future repairs.
Miller, a Cuesta College student studying art and music, said he looks forward to continuing his education as well as pursing his passions with a new tool—a new hand.
"I really hope that it will make me feel more of a confident person, to be able to use my voice to play guitar and feel comfortable knowing that I am who I am and capable," he said. "The injury of sorts or the prosthetic doesn't define me. It aids me in seeing who I am, but it doesn't define me."
This year, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of San Luis Obispo County celebrates 25 years of providing advocates to 2,600 abused and neglected children under the protection of the San Luis Obispo County court system. CASA volunteers provide a consistent and caring adult influence in a child's life. Advocates provide reports to judges at each hearing to help the judge make an informed decision about that child's future. CASA's goal is to match an advocate with every child who needs one. To learn more about the organization or how to become an advocate, visit slocasa.org. Δ
Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to firstname.lastname@example.org.