CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – Two Charlotte doctors created a surgery that’s helping a veteran amputee regain control of his hand.
Jackson Schroeder says the Army helped shape him.
“It was definitely a sense of belonging to be in the military. You form some of the best friendships you ever had with people there,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and was home on leave when he had an accident with a weapon and lost four fingers.
Schroeder’s surgeon in the Army learned about two Charlotte doctors, Dr. Bryan Loeffler and Dr. Glenn Gaston of OrthoCarolina, who had created a procedure for partial-hand amputees that might help Schroeder.
“Basically, the patient puts on what’s like a glove, and the sensors are embedded within the glove,” said Dr. Loeffler.
The Starfish Procedure moves muscles closer to the skin’s surface so electrodes can pick up muscle contraction and individually control robotic fingers.
Before the creation of the Starfish, muscles were buried too deep within the hand to allow the robotic fingers to work individually.
“I remember I was kind of scared to flex any muscles in my hand right after surgery, so I didn’t do that for at least the first couple of weeks, and once I got comfortable, it was kind of strange being able to feel like I had individual control of each finger again without actually having any fingers present,” said Schroeder.
Right now, the prosthetic has to be custom-made.
“We are certainly hoping to have that down the road so that any surgeon can put in an order and any prosthetist can make it,” said Dr. Gaston.
Schroeder is a college student now.
“It’s kind of a sense of independence to me,” said Schroeder.
The veteran soldier plays golf and can do almost anything he could do before his accident.
“I don’t know where I would be in life if I hadn’t been presented this opportunity.”