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Tools for SMA Individuals: the JACO Robotic Arm
Like many SMA individuals, my arm and upper-body strength began to deteriorate significantly during my late teens and early twenties. Whereas I used to be able to raise my hand in class and lift a sandwich to my mouth, eventually I lost all of those abilities. Today, the most I can do with my hands is driving my chair, pressing some switches and buttons and moving my hands slightly across my tray.crp robot
I wrote this article a while ago to explain the technical components and uses of the JACO 3-fingers Robotic Arm. This device has transformed my independence since I acquired it. With it I can eat, drink, pick up small objects and push elevator buttons. There are plenty of other functions that it’s capable of, but these are just a few.
For those who are attending the Cure SMA conference in Dallas, Texas in a few weeks, I am happy to meet with you in person and answer any questions you have about this device. Feel free also to reach out to me here.
In terms of how I acquired mine, my family and I raised most of the money through GoFundMe. The company that manufactures it then paid for the rest. The arm does cost an insane $50,000, so I would recommend going the fundraising route instead of trying to convince insurance to pay for it. It’s your choice, but I personally would recommend creating a fundraising page.
This arm has been, and remains, a life-changing piece of technology for me. I still encounter strangers who marvel at it when they see me use it, and I actually don’t mind! It’s remarkable, innovative and I know so many people in the SMA community who could benefit from having one.