'She's always had this strive to shoot for anything that she wants': Milwaukee teen impresses with prosthetic hand prowess
MILWAUKEE, WIS (CBS 58) -- A Wisconsin teen is raising awareness about prothesis and technology. She is focused on showing the world that her differences are simply superpowers.
The sound of Kate Ketelhohn's bionic hand is also the sound of advanced technology making life a lot easier. It's a life Kate's parents thought she wouldn't be here for today.
"When I was an infant, I contracted a strep a bacterial blood infection and sepsis, said Ketelhohn.
Kate was less than 1-year-old when her health began to rapidly decline. Doctors told her parents to start saying goodbye to their little girl, but then a miracle happened.
"After three months in the hospital with many near-death scares... I survived with amputations on my feet and losing my left hand."
Doctors recommended amputating Kate's legs below the knee, but her parents decided to look for other possibilities. Kate had several different hand and foot prosthetics growing up.
"My parents knew that having a prosthetic hand would be extremely helpful for me. I saw people learning things and I'd be like how do I do this differently how do I adapt? "
She spent years trying to find the right solution but says the care she received at Gillette Children's Hospital in Minnesota was life changing. That is where she met Certified Prosthetist, Molly Linquist.
"She came to me, and she was like I just want an arm that I can use in plays, She was really active in theater and sports in which she wanted to utilize something that was more practical in a daily basis," said Linquist.
It was then that Molly suggested the possibility of a bionic hand from a company called Psyonic, located in Champaign, Illinois.
"She said, oh you can wear a black hand! I was like cool! Since they like listened to me about what would work and what would not. We have electrode sensors on those major muscle groups, and they sense the skin over those muscles moving and then it translates it into electrical signals which translates it into an open and closed definition. I've gotten to know the people who invented it at Psyonic and they've been really supportive and helpful with everything."
Kate and the creators at Psyonic decided to team up to make a YouTube video to showcase their technology. In the video, Kate shows how to effortlessly flip a water bottle, something that was never possibly with a prosthetic hand in the old days.
Psyonic is the first company to build bionic hands in the United States and is faster than any bionic hand on the market. It's a tool Kate is grateful to have by her side.
"Sometimes they have advanced prosthetics in labs, and they never reach the populous."
.The hand is also connected to Kate's phone, allowing her to do a wide variety of commands.
"There is a peace sign, there is a tripod which is really good for just grabbing things. I can tell people to hang loose. "
Kate says seeing these advancements inspired her to help others in her own career.
"I've had non-stop leg lengthening procedures my whole life which Is how I've gotten to 54 surgeries. Seeing the importance of how medical professional's work. I've seen how important it is for everyone to have a good knowledge and basis for all the people we're working for. Best place for me in my life would be helping in the medical profession, being a doctor. Because I know what the patients are going through a little more because of my personal experiences."
Experiences supported by Kate's amazingly positive outlook on life.
"She's always had this strive to shoot for anything that she wants, and she is going to obtain it because she has that mental attitude."
"Do I try to make the future better or do I try to sit where I am? Or do I try to forge forward and try to make everything better for the future. People are always so fascinated I'm like yes learn more! This is something that should not be unusual or strange this is something that is good to know about because there are so many cool innovations out there. So many people have prosthetics that people should talk about it."
Kate is currently a student at Johns Hopkins University and enjoys acting and writing plays. She hopes to be involved in the arts as well as the medical field in the future.