Tell me about finger tip prosthetics.
April 16, 2017 1:47 AM   Subscribe

I have recently had a very silly accident with unfortunately serious consequences. I have lost the tip of my right thumb. I have lost from the base of the nail upwards-- I still have a working joint with full mobility and it seems like it will heal well with good feeling in the new tip. I am looking into prosthetics both for vanity and to lengthen the thumb for things like holding a pen, and I have some questions.

Can you recommend specific experiences with similar prosthetic makers and provide either negative feedback or recommendations? The choice in Hong Kong is limited and it looks as though I will need to order from elsewhere.

Can you give me general advice for thumb-tip loss in general based on your own experience?

I am also looking into creative prosthetic options (3D printed ones, and some designer friends have offered to help me do something fun if I can find a good basic way to implement), but most of the people working with 3D printed prosthetics who I find on Google seem to have disappeared. Does anyone have links into that community or can point me to someone they know is still active?

I am right-handed and it is my right thumb, if that makes a difference. Also, it doesn't appear insurance will cover anything towards a prosthetic.
posted by frumiousb to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
PS Experience from finger tip loss is also fine.
posted by frumiousb at 1:49 AM on April 16

This is more on the creative project than long-term solution side, but. via
posted by aniola at 9:02 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]

My stepfather lost the tip of his right thumb in an construction accident at about the level you did. It didn't really get in the way of anything; he learned to deal with it fine. The only thing he ever mentioned was that the little weird stub of a nail he had was sort of hard to figure out how to trim. And that screwing and unscrewing the screws to take apart a PC case was actually easier, since he didn't have to bend his thumb back so much to grab them-- and I saw him do it, it was dramatically faster at unscrewing things like that, like little bottles or wingnuts or whatever.

I suspect he never had to relearn to type because the accident was before home computers, but I know sometimes the space bar was not where it was "supposed" to be, and also that he had to adjust his pen grip. He liked the Pen Again a whole lot because it eliminated the need to grip with his thumb and was easier to write with, but he did fine with regular pens. Then again, the Pen Again is also kind of fun to use even if you don't really need it, so maybe he just liked it as a novelty.

I did notice that instead of picking up the pen with his finger and thumb, he'd pick it up with his other hand and place it in his right hand. He also caught things by cupping his hand rather than grabbing, and scooped things up with the sides of his hands rather than grabbing or plucking them, but much of this may have been because he had a left-side weakness due to a stroke in his 50's, also before I knew him, but after the thumb. My understanding is that he never even really considered a prosthetic because they were sort of expensive compared to the expected utility.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:52 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]

I lost only the very tip of my left middle finger, which you would assume is very trivial; but unfortunately it makes it excruciating to play guitar, which I used to do. I didn't play for a living, though, so never seriously looked into expensive prosthetics. I'll be interested to hear any tips posted here.

Sorry about your injury. I know it's not serious, but still somewhat traumatic, in my experience.
posted by Samarium at 3:57 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

blnkfrnk-- they actually removed the remains of my nail bed to prevent what you're describing with your grandfather and his nails.
posted by frumiousb at 3:38 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]

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