BYRON, Ill. — Carrie Krischke lost her left arm in a 1994 traffic accident.
An Army veteran, Krischke adapted, learning to change her children’s diapers with her dominant right arm and feet.
She got by with a prosthetic that had a hook until she didn’t have to get by anymore.
Krischke, an East High graduate, used the local VA Medical Center while living in Florida, and volunteered to be a test subject during development of the bionic LUKE arm. The acronym, which stands for Life Under Kinetic Evolution, is named for the Star Wars protagonist who lost his hand in a duel.
The device picks up electrical impulses near the site of the amputation and sends signals to the prosthetic limb, which resembles a human arm and hand with fingers and a thumb.
She continued participating in the studies with the LUKE arm’s inventor, DEKA Research & Development in New Hampshire, after she moved back to Illinois in 2010.
She spent years waiting for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the arm and more years before the arm’s commercial launch.
Then, out of the blue, Dallas-based Independence Corps called Krischke to say it was willing to donate an arm to her. Independence Corps is a nonprofit that helps veterans regain their independence through increased mobility.
Krischke flew to New Hampshire for a fitting and soon after received her new LUKE arm.
She’s still adapting to her new prosthetic. But peeling potatoes and opening a water bottle have become a lot easier.
“The biggest thing is food prep,” Krischke said. “Just being able to even peel a potato for crying out loud. Food prep was huge.
“It’s a life-changing arm. I’m very grateful. I’m grateful that this arm system is available. It’s made a huge difference.”