Devon Knightner was a tech support lead for a major tech company when her hand inexplicably locked up in the middle of a live product launch. For weeks she could only keyboard one-handed. She chalked it up to carpal tunnel syndrome, an over-use injury. But the painful muscle spasms did not improve with treatment. She lost use of the other hand. A neurologist finally diagnosed Knightner with focal hand dystonia, a brain disorder that hijacks a person’s fine motor skills, causing involuntary muscle contractions and uncontrollable movements or fixed positions of the hands and fingers.
“I have to take extra steps to do nearly anything,” explains Knightner. “I'm learning a whole new way of life right now. People with these disabilities need a voice, and to know they are not crazy. Just because I don't have a wheelchair that you can see, or some sort of impediment that you can identify, that does not mean it's not there.”
Dystonia awareness events are happening throughout the fall. Knightner is making invisible disabilities her platform in the Mrs. South Carolina America Pageant. Her ultimate goal is to promote access to adaptive equipment that may allow people with disabilities to accomplish daily tasks and remain employed: “While medical research fights for a cure, I’m fighting for quality of life.”
Now Devon's determination has led her to new endeavors in commercial modeling, acting and public speaking. She is also launching a foundation for Disabilities You Can't See in 2019.
Devon is now Duchess of Content Creation for Pageant Planet.