WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – A retired science professor from Haysville is at home after spending the last week in New York City making history in medicine.
Last week, Eyewitness News told the story of Sondra Stieber as she made her way to the Big Apple to receive a new type of bionic arm that she can control with her mind. On Wednesday, Stieber discussed her experience and what the new technology means to her and many others around the world.
“It’s amazing how much work it takes for your brain to learn to operate something that is not technically part of your body using just your brain,” Sondra Stieber said on Wednesday after returning to Wichita.
It was an important homecoming on Wednesday after Stieber’s plane landed at Dwight D. Eisenhower Domestic Airport in Wichita. As her family cheered, she raised her new prosthetic arm and waved.
“The bionic woman is here,” said her husband, Mark, as they greeted the family.
Stieber’s cousin, Genny Hadsell-Patry, said when welcoming him at the airport: “We are just excited. We play cards a lot, and now we’re excited. She’ll be able to hold her cards. She can make her own mix now. I couldn’t be happier.
Although Stieber admits that the game’s first hand might take some work.
“I’ll be really fun playing cards with it because when I’m really excited it spins so everyone can see my hand,” she said.
Three years ago, a blood clot resulted in the amputation of his forearm and left hand. Now she is the second person to receive the advanced prosthesis, which is one of the closest technologies to replacing a real arm and hand.
“Grateful for all the support,” Stieber said after landing in Wichita on Wednesday. “All of the people you see here have spent the past three years really sticking with me to make this a reality.”
Stieber explained that his prosthesis includes an externally powered, multifunctional myoelectric hand, using pattern recognition software connected to it by osseointegration.
“So I learned all the official terminology,” she said.
Essentially, this all means that she has a prosthetic arm and hand that she can control with her mind.
“It’s a game changer,” said Mike Reynolds. It was an occupational therapist from Ascension Via Christi who worked with Stieber after his amputation. “Most of the previous prostheses use some kind of muscle activated prosthesis or some type of joint movement or muscle activation. It doesn’t use any of these. This opens the door to all kinds of options.
During last week’s trip to New York City, she took possession of the prosthesis and began to learn how to use it. While in New York, she also met the first patient to receive this type of prosthetic arm.
“I made my doctors do the cartwheels,” Stieber said. “They said if I could open and close by the end of the first week, they would do cartwheels.”
Now the most wonderful part is coming home to show it off.
“Excited, of course, by the features and the things I will be able to do, like hug my grandchildren,” Stieber said. “My grandson is only four years old, so most of his life, at least since he could speak, he’s always been waiting for me to get my robotic arm. So today he said, ‘Grandma, I’ve been waiting for this all my life.’ “
Stieber said it gave him back his independence, including returning to class.
“To be able to work and function as before. I was a science teacher in college. This job requires two hands. I retired, but with this development I think maybe I don’t need to stay in retirement, ”she said.
There is still a lot of therapy and learning to come for Stieber and his team at Ascension Via Christi master his new arm and his new hand.
Reynolds said: “Bookends for a long journey for her. It’s something that she has been pursuing for a very, very long time, and we are very, very happy and excited not only for Sondra but to continue our journey. and find out how this new technology works.
“Pick up small items or relearn how to use a computer mouse. Learn to open and close on demand, so you don’t shake your hand and squeeze too much, ”Stieber said.
This is not the end of the work for this arm. Stieber uses it as a way to show what the future of prosthetics looks like.
Stieber said, “I am an advocate for the Amputee Coalition, and traditional prosthetics are barbaric, especially for upper limb amputees. They are just terrible, so hopefully that becomes the norm, that I will only be patient number two for a very short time. The next time someone loses a limb, they are hoping for something so cool.
She said there was a woman in Salina who had her arm amputated and, based on Stieber’s experience, is also seeking this technology. Stieber said she plans to visit him soon.
“I got on a plane two and a half years ago (to New York) and took my first set of tests and found out that I was a candidate,” Stieber said. “It was the first time after losing my arm that I really thought it could be anything positive.”
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