After losing arm, Vietnamese hairdresser styles new ways to cut clients' locks

HO CHI MINH CITY (REUTERS) – Four years ago, a traffic accident cost Ms Le Thi Kim Tram her left arm.

Amid the trauma, the 42-year-old lay recovering in hospital, thinking of ways to continue her livelihood – cutting hair, a trade followed by three generations of her family.

To make matters worse, Ms Tram’s husband left her after the accident that meant the arm had to be amputated, meaning she now had to support two children and her mother on her own.

But a month after being discharged from hospital, she had worked out a new way of cutting hair, lifting up locks quickly and snipping before they fell back again.

“I lost the hand that usually holds the comb, so I had to think of a way to hold the comb so that my scissor hand could cut hair,” said Ms Tram, speaking from her salon in Ho Chi Minh City.

As she re-learned her job, she would at first spend up to an hour on a trim that could have previously taken as little as five minutes, she said.

Now, Ms Tram has registered her trade, changing clipper blades against her thigh and holding the shower head in her mouth when washing clients’ hair.

Office worker Nguyen Van Tri admitted to being a bit nervous about getting his hair cut by Ms Tram at first. Even with both hands, other barbers could mess up a cut, he said.

“But after the first time, seeing that my hair was nicely done … I kept coming back,” said the 25-year-old.

Despite having already hurdled many obstacles, Ms Tram dreams of having some form of a prosthetic, robotic arm one day.

“You can do anything one-handed with practice, but you can do it better with both hands,” she said.

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