Prosthetics: "I build bridges between the technology, its users, the therapists and specialists"

Whether it’s a walker or a prosthesis – handling a new everyday helper needs to be learned first. And who better to teach the best tips and tricks for handling them than someone who already uses these auxiliary aids every day?


Photo: Claudia Breidbach

Claudia Breidbach shows new users how to use a knife and a fork with two hands again; © Touch Bionics

This was something prosthetic manufacturer Touch Bionics (TB) was thinking and made Claudia Breidbach, a user of a prosthetic fullhand made by TB, a so-called training manager in October of 2014. spoke with her about her job and what she can effect with it in the long term.

Ms. Breidbach, as a prosthetic user yourself, you are also a training manager at Touch Bionics. What exactly are your duties and responsibilities in this position?

Claudia Breidbach: I train both technicians and users of the multi-articulating i-limb full-hand and partial hand prosthetic devices to use and program the hands. I certify orthopedic technicians and therapists for our products in our new Touch Life Center (TLC) in Heidelberg, Germany. I was also the project manager for setting up the TLC Competence Center for Education. In addition, I provide internal training and coaching for my colleagues. Plus I present our products at trade fairs like REHACARE and during continuing education courses, in schools as well as training centers. I conduct workshops for users to prepare them on how to use our i-limb prosthetic hands and inspire new ideas. What’s more, I also test improvements made on the prosthesis in everyday life.

How do the people you advise respond to you and the services in general?

Breidbach: People respond very positively to me in this position. I am the liaison between the technicians, therapists and the users and am able to teach people, thanks to my own experiences I made during my own training to use the hand. I still remember what it was like when you suddenly get to live your life with both hands again and need to learn new movements, to grasp very specifically, accept defeat and practice new activities with both hands every day. I also know how much strength, patience, and perseverance it takes to live your life with both hands. I teach the technicians what it means to us users and what challenges we need to face. Based on my experience, I can give them very clear examples and handle positions they can subsequently pass on to their customers.

What types of experiences in your consulting job are particularly memorable for you?

Breidbach: To me, it is important to enable users to meet their basic needs and enable an independent life with our i-limb hand systems. It is always very emotional for me to show users how to cut their own food and use a fork and knife with both hands. The pride I can see in the eyes of the users is my biggest reward.
Photo: Ambassador team of Touch Bionics

Together with her colleagues, Claudia Breidbach (middle, front) also showcases the various possibilities of her prosthetic fullhand on trade fairs; © Touch Bionics

How can you contribute to users coping better and faster in everyday life and living a self-determined life?

Breidbach: The experience I made on my own at the time, I am now passing on in my current job with TB. My tips on how to use the hands inspire new ideas with each individual user. I provide suggestions the users can subsequently adopt in their own lives. Each user decides which suggestions he or she adopts and is subsequently able to build on them and gain their own experiences and ideas. My way of approaching people allows me to build bridges and ease fears. This is very fulfilling and makes my job so very interesting!

Why is your work so important in this respect?

Breidbach: My work builds bridges between an ingenious technology, its users, the therapists and experts. I foster a mutual understanding between all parties involved and contribute to clarifying things. The use of i-limb hand systems is intended to make an independent, active life possible for users. It is very important to me to also communicate this to insurance providers, referees and medical advisory services and educate them on this. After all, I still remember what it is like when you have to fight for care resources. I feel it is very important to support others to the best of my abilities and share my experiences.
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Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis
(Translated by Elena O'Meara.)