When Gage Gould was born, he was missing the bottom half of his right arm. His parents were shocked. Initially, they feared what his limitations would be and questioned what all he would be able to do. After a few months, they realized he was going to be just fine. The Goulds watched in awe as their baby adjusted his movements to compensate for having only one hand. Though his parents were hesitant about Gage’s deficiency, he surpassed their expectations. “He doesn’t know any different. He can do just about anything on his own,” Heather Gould, Gage’s mother shares proudly. When Gage was four months old, though, the Goulds decided to add a prosthesis to aid their little one in his motor skills development.
The Goulds thought the prosthesis would help him get used to having arms of equal length. A fateful viewing of a YouTube video changed everything for the family. Gage’s grandmother saw a video of a person using a myoelectric (myo) prosthesis, which is an artificial limb that you control with the electrical signals generated by your own muscles. The Goulds looked into the technology, and by the age of one, Gage was using his own myoelectric hand. His parents decided to give him the opportunity to learn how to use it for as long as he chooses. Heather is still in awe, “I think it’s incredible that he learned to use it as a one year old.”
Gage, now seven years old, astounds his family daily both with the use of his myo prosthesis and without. He wears the prosthesis most days, especially for school, where the myo hand is beneficial. “You don’t realize how much you use two hands in school, from stabilizing the paper while you write to holding paper to cut with scissors,” explains Heather. In addition to using the myo hand for utilitarian reasons, Gage also is able to use it for entertainment. For driving four wheelers, riding his bicycle, and swinging on monkey bars, the myo hand provides balance and control. Mastering the monkey bars is a huge goal for Gage, who likes to attempt the improbable. “He is dead set on learning. He’s super determined and patient,” Heather describes.
Gage’s confidence shines as bright as his determination. He tells people who ask about his hand that he is exactly how God made him. He feels like he can do anything other kids can do. He excels at baseball and soccer. This year was his first time playing Coach Pitch baseball, and his mom says watching him play was just amazing. He is inspired by Jim Abbott, the Major League pitcher born without a right hand. Heather believes he can do whatever he puts his mind to. “He’s independent, patient, and persistent. He figures things out and ways to do things with only one hand all the time. I’m amazed how awesome he is with it or without it. He’s really good either way,” says Heather. Some days, Gage chooses not to wear his myo hand, and it will be his choice if he wants to continue wearing it in the future.
Each prosthesis typically lasts two years while he is growing. The Goulds have gone through four in six years. As he grows, the myo prosthetics will become more technologically advanced. His next hand may even be able to move all five fingers individually. His current myo hand, operated by his muscles, can open, close, clasp, and pick up objects. Learning about prosthetics has been interesting for the family. Heather shares, “It’s been really neat learning about that world. It’s fascinating what technology can do. Gage’s brother and sister think his prosthesis is really cool, too.”
Whether Gage is wearing his myo prosthesis or not, he is persistently pursuing his goals, whether that’s pitching a baseball or making it across the monkey bars. Though born without a hand, he more than compensates with his determination and perseverance. Gage will continue to astound those around him. ■