Boy may have new prosthetic arm for Christmas

Cole Masse, 3, plays with his train set at his home in Meadow Lake. His mother Kylah hopes Cole, who was born without a right hand, will soon have a new myoelectric prosthetic arm, perhaps before Christmas.

By Mac Christie

A Meadow Lake boy may soon be the owner of a new myoelectric arm.

Cole Masse, 3, was born missing his right hand, and while he’s had prosthetic limbs before, a myoelectric arm will allow him to open and close the hand of the prosthetic. The arms use electrodes that monitor muscle movement, directing the limbs how to open and close.

His mother Kylah said she hopes to have Cole get the prosthesis by Christmas, but added it’s been a long time coming.

“You just have to go see so many doctors and it’s really hard to get in to see them,” she said of the process, which took over a year.

Originally, she thought it would be easy to get because the family has Blue Cross coverage, but the company denied their claim because they said the government would cover it.

While many of the arms allow the wearer to have a high level of control to their movement, Masse said because Cole is so young, he won’t have the strength to control it.

“He has a little bit of a wrist,” she noted. “He’ll flick and (the hand) will open, then there’ll probably be a 15 or 20 second delay and it will close.

“As he gets stronger and adds more control he’ll be able to open and close it by himself.”

Cole was born in Meadow Lake, but doctors have never explained what caused his condition.

“We weren’t ever told,” Masse said. “We was just born that way.

While the prosthesis should allow Cole to pick things up, Masse added he might not like it.

“We started him pretty young and he didn’t like it,” she said of his earlier prosthetics. “But it’s good to have the option if he wants to use it.”

Part of the reason he didn’t like the others, she noted, was because he couldn’t use his wrist to pull things toward him like he was used to.

“He can pull objects towards himself so he can carry things,” she said. “He didn’t really like the other ones because he couldn’t do that.”

Still, while having the prosthetic may help Cole with certain things, like balance while running,
Masse said he gets along just fine without one.

“He can do anything,” she said. “He just figures things out. He’s actually pretty amazing in what he can do.”

Cole likes to swim and can throw a ball extremely well, Masse noted, but admitted he doesn’t like ice skating very much.

“He says it’s too slippery,” she said with a laugh. “He likes soccer though.”

While Cole was excited about the arm when he originally got fitted for it, Masse said it’s been so long he’s forgotten about it.

“He was telling people at pre-school how it’s going to move and stuff,” she said. “Now it was so long ago and he’s so little it doesn’t really register.”

The arm, which is being made in Saskatoon, and will run on AA batteries, will be adorned with images of Wall-E and Cars character Lightning McQueen.

“He can pick all kinds of pictures,” Masse explained. “His old one had Spiderman on it.”

In the future Masse hopes the prosthetic might help shield Cole from teasing.

“He doesn’t get teased yet,” she confided, “but I’m sure he will. I’m hoping this will help prevent it.”

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