Amputee Aimee Copeland has New Hands

Bionic hands

May 1, 2012 began an unwanted adventure for a young Georgia woman.  The end result was the amputation of one entire leg, one foot, and both of her hands.  Today she has new hands.

Aimee Copeland was out with her friends on that fateful day in May.  They were in an area near the Little Tallapoosa River, about 50 miles west of Atlanta.  A homemade zip line broke.  Copeland fell and received a gash in her leg.  It required 22 staples to close it.

Three days later, still in severe pain, she returned to the emergency room.  After she was examined, she was diagnosed as having necrotizing fasciitis caused by the flesh-devouring bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila.  The disease resulted in her loss of limbs to save her life.

Copeland is a University of West Georgia student.  The 25 year old was vacationing with friends when the accident occurred.

For five months she endured painful rehabilitation.  She finally returned home in October.

Copeland was fitted with two bionic hands, costing approximately $120,000 each.  She is able to chop her own vegetables, and clean her own home.  Since her accident, she has only been able to eat microwaveable food.  She said she is a “foodie” and missed freshly cooked meals.

She said she is also a “clean freak” and will be able to take care of her home.

The manufacturer, Touch Bionics, demonstrated the prosthetic hands at the firm’s office in Hilliard, Ohio, showing how hand positions can also be remotely set with an iPad application using a blue-tooth connection. The “bioism” software can also be downloaded to an iPhone and iPod, the spokesman said.

Copeland’s father, Andy Copeland, told local ABC station KAIT 8 that he expects her new hands to help the process.

“She’ll be able to utilize a lot of different functions, such as holding a glass. She’ll have nine different grasping motions with these hands,” he said. “It’s going to be wonderful to see her be able to reserve as much normalcy with her life as possible.”

She is expected to receive a prosthetic leg later this year, and will be given a service dog in the near future.

Copeland doesn’t consider her accident and near brush with death a ‘bad thing’.

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” she said. “That’s why I wanted to study psychology.  After this happened to me, [it became obvious] that I was supposed to work with people with disabilities.”

The brave Ms. Copeland is working to complete her master’s degree by the end of the year.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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