For Mia O’Malley McLachlan, being able to skip is her own kind of miracle. The 8-year-old girl from St. Jacobs now has a new artificial arm with four interchangeable hand devices for activities like playing on the monkey bars, pushups, golfing, and her favourite, skipping.Born a left hand amputee, she’s been part of War Amps all her life through The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program. Her mom, Jody, says her daughter was delighted to finally be able to skip with a jump rope on her own.
“She’s like ‘mom, this is like a miracle to me!” Jody said. “On the first day she did a couple of skips. Now we’re working to 100.”
War Amps also gave her a myoelectric arm for everyday use, which allows Mia to open and close the hand by flexing the muscles in her residual limb. Jody said it helps her with tasks like zipping up her jacket or holding a piece of paper while she cuts it, things most of us don’t think twice about doing.
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“It gives her the ability to do so many things,” Jody said. “Through her eight years they’ve supported us in a number of ways.”
Before the new arm, Mia always needed her friends to help her turn the jump rope, which they were happy to do. But in gym class when they had skipping competitions, she always had to sit out and be a judge. Now, she’ll be able to compete like everyone else.
“War Amps allows us as parents to give her everything she needs.”
This is Mia’s third myoelectric arm. As she grows she’ll continue to need new ones. All of the arms are custom designed and fitted to suit her body. She had her first at six months old, as she was born with a congenital amputation.
“It really does look lifelike,” Jody said. “The hand gets bigger as she grows.”
They started the process to getting the new arm in May with three visits to Toronto. Mia was fitted with a cast and a clear fit to see if it would work when she put her “little arm,” as her mom described it, in the artificial arm.
“Without War Amps she wouldn’t have all of these opportunities,” Jody said. “It gives her that ability to skip, to level the playing ground that so many people take for granted.”
For Jody, it’s all about seeing the pride on her daughter’s face at discovering her newfound independence. That wouldn’t be possible without War Amps because the arms are very expensive, Jody said. Insurance covers a small portion of artificial limbs, and War Amps covers the rest.
“The financial support … I can’t say enough about it,” Jody said.