Photo by Rebecca Walden.
0313 a new normal
Hoover High School student Haley Hidgon received a prosthetic hand last year.
It’s been less than three months since 16-year-old Haley Higdon received a microprocessor-controlled prosthetic hand, and already the teen is bouncing back.
The prosthetic was designed to help Higdon regain functionality in her right hand after a 2012 auto accident resulted in the loss of all fingers on that hand.
While Higdon admits the prosthetic is not quite second nature to her, she has acclimated to this new normal faster than the expectations many had for her.
Naturally right-handed, Higdon surprised her softball coaches and teammates when she demonstrated skillful play post-prosthesis, and with her left hand. She’s recently been invited to throw out the first pitch for the Hoover Parks & Recreation season opener in April, a goal she’s determined to make happen.
“I really want to learn how to throw a ball so I can do it for the Hoover ball field and not look silly,” she said. “It will definitely be hard because I wasn’t that good at pitching in the first place. Right now, I can pick up the ball; I just have to learn when to let go.”
Higdon’s occupational therapy began in late January. She still has to master a few unnatural muscle moves to have the prosthesis switch from a one finger to multi finger position. Prosthesis dexterity is one of few complaints from the teen about her new hand.
“It will go from one finger mode to four finger mode, and I have no idea how I made that happen,” she said. “And it’s a little bulky.”
As she learns to adapt to the prosthetic, Higdon has maintained normalcy in most every other area of her life. She attends Hoover High School and keeps up with her schoolwork via iPad. The focused teen also maintains two part-time jobs, the first at Rocky Ridge Retirement off of Lorna Road, and the second as a daycare helper at Covenant Classical School. Of the few on-the-job obstacles she’s encountered, Higdon displays a healthy sense of humor about it all.
“I was helping out with the infants, but it was a little hard for me to pick them up and change them. So now I work with the 4-year-olds, which is a lot better – no more changing nasty diapers!”
Despite the accident and its outcome (Higdon was a passenger in her boyfriend’s car at the time), she has maintained the relationship.
“They are both remorseful about what happened,” said her mother, Judie Cummings. “Through everything, they have stuck by each other. At their age, that says a lot.”
Higdon said the experience has also impacted her friends. “They have all learned not to go out and drive if they’ve been drinking.”