The drive to Tecpan took us back into the Mayan area of Guatemala. After stopping for some good coffee and fruit pies at Chichoy, a local restaurant, we arrived in the city of Tecpan.
Wuqu' Kawoq's base in Tecpan is a house they rent from a local nurse. Arriving at the house, we met Peter Rohloff, the Director of Wuqu' Kawoq, and jumped right into working with our first patient. Her name was Magdalena, and she was from Mayan community in the northern part of the country.
Magdalena mainly spoke a very unique indigenous language, and only knew a little Spanish, so her husband ended up translating between Jonathan's Spanish, and Magdalena's indigenous language. We moved quickly through our typical interview process, and then into fitting the OpenSocket to Magdalena. After getting the device fit and operable, Jonathan and I moved on to work with our second patient, Carlos, while Ehsan and Dylan began working on training Magdalena on using her new prosthesis.
Unfortunately, it became immediately apparent that the OpenSocket was not the right prosthetic solution for Carlos's extremely short residual limb. While we have designed the OpenSocket to fit as wide a range of patients as possible, there will always be some cases where a custom-fit device is more appropriate. Carlos is such a case. While we're not able to provide Carlos with a prosthesis, we will work with our networks to find an organization with the right skills and resources to do so.
We found out that our third patient for the day was not going to show up, so we continued to work with Magdalena. While getting a prosthesis properly fit to a patient is major component of what we do in the field, it is definitely not the only thing. Training a patient on how to best use their new prosthesis is extremely critical. This training involves things like showing a patient how to grip items with the terminal device, and how to rotate the terminal device into the most advantageous position for each task.
With almost every patient, there is a moment where a switch clicks in their head, and they begin to understand the ways they can use the OpenSocket in their daily lives. In some cases, this happens after a patient has gone home and continued practicing with the device, and in other cases, it comes during our training. In Magdalena's case, it happened when she picked up a wash rag, and realized how she could use her prosthesis to hold the rag while she washed it with her other hand. As she began doing this seemingly mundane task, her eyes lit up and her mouth opened in one of the biggest grins I have seen in a long time.
In that moment, Magdalena realized that the OpenSocket was going to make it easier for her to do many of the things that were once very hard. It was a joy to witness this moment of realization with Magdalena, and we look forward to many more moments like this in the days to come.