Victoria, age 30, an occupational therapist assistant who lives with her fiancé in Bellingham, Washington, on the west coast of America.
Born with a congenital limb difference, Victoria has always just adapted and worked out her own way of doing things. As a mentor at Camp No Limits she now shares her experiences and support with children with limb differences and their families.
A yoga fan, Victoria has worked closely with our designers here at Koalaa on the development of our Nicole Pro tool, which is designed to help users do the full range of weight-bearing moves.
Here’s what she had to say about life with a limb difference and being part of the Koalaa design process.
What was you experience growing up with a limb difference?
I was very fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family and to have a Mom who always made sure I tried new things and experienced anything I wanted to do.
There were things I tried that I decided weren’t for me but I always made sure I tried them, so my limb difference never held me back in any way.
Growing up I didn’t use prosthetics - except for a passive arm to help me crawl as a baby - I just found my own way of doing things, but I did wonder what the possibilities were.
I ended up going into occupational therapy as it felt like a good way to use my skills in adapting, to help other people.
What was your experience of prosthetics before Koalaa?
Before getting my Koalaa ALX sleeve I had tried a couple other types of prosthetics.
I had an electric arm when I was 9 but it didn’t last long and I didn’t enjoy wearing it. Then around age 27 I thought I would see what was out there and tried another MyoElectric prosthetic, as well as a passive activity arm. Again, I never found them very comfortable.
I ended up coming across Koalaa on Instagram. I’d been looking up alternative prosthetic options - thinking there had to be something better out there! - so when Koalaa popped up in my feed I was really excited. It was exactly what I was looking for.
I remember having notes in my phone literally describing what my perfect prosthetic would be – I’d created one in my head – and Koalaa was it!
What were you expecting, when you first heard about Koalaa?
I had high hopes as it sounded like exactly what I was looking for and when it arrived it really met the mark. I put it on and it was instantly comfortable. It felt like a part of me. It was so comfortable and easy to use, like putting on a shoe that fits.
My fiancé took a video and I was quite emotional as I thought ‘This is what it should be like’.
It makes me feel like anything is possible.
Tell us about yoga!
What has been really amazing has been working with the Koalaa team to perfect the design of a special tool for yoga. The existing tool was great but I found I wasn’t able to use it to do everything, as it couldn’t hold enough weight.
Along with some other volunteers from Camp No Limits, we started brainstorming with Koalaa’s designers, ways of adapting it to make it better and more functional for those unique types of movements you do in yoga - as well as for pilates, press ups and other weight bearing exercises that require balance and stability.
Koalaa truly listen and it’s been awesome how involved we have got to be, with such great support. I’m so excited about it.
What have you used your Koalaa ALX for?
As well as yoga I have tried kayaking. I also have the bike attachment too and can’t wait to try it out.
I like that Koalaa allows me to accomplish more outdoor activities as I enjoy them very much. Koalaa has made me want to do things even more and has opened up new possibilities too.
From the whole team at Koalaa we want to say a huge thank you to Victoria for collaborating with us throughout the design process of The Nicole Pro - Victoria's feedback, which has contributed to elements of the final design, has been invaluable!