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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

Boy, nine, fitted with first prosthetic hand that can change grip with gestures

Date: 25/8/2015
Summary: A nine-year-old boy, born with his right arm missing from the elbow, can build Lego, eat with a knife and fork and pull up his trousers for the first time thanks to a new bionic hand.

Josh Cathcart, who was bullied because of his disability, declared his new limb “awesome” and could not wait to show it to his school friends, after becoming the first child in the UK to be fitted with the i-limb quantum, a special child-sized hand.

The i-limb, developed by Touch Bionics, is controlled by the wearer’s muscle signals and configurable via a mobile app. It is the first prosthetic hand that can change grips with a simple gesture: the wearer simply moves their hand in any of the four directions to instantly activate the desired grip.

Josh, from Dalgety Bay in Fife, said: “I got it put on about two days ago. It feels quite heavy. I can stick my thumb up. I can make a pinch grip, I can get a grip for cutting with a knife.

“I made myself a bagel yesterday. I can open bottles and packets with it. I can stack up blocks, I can build Lego with it and I can pull my trousers up,” he said.

His mother, Clare, said: “Josh had been getting picked on and became quite withdrawn and upset, so we started looking for something a bit more advanced – something that moved. So, we had chats with him and then went on the internet and came across this company.”

“He was born missing a hand. At first, I didn’t really give much thought to it, but as time went on I blamed myself for it. Now I can see him with two hands.

“It gives him his independence so he can make his own food and tidy his own room,” she added.

His father, James, said: “Obviously his socket’s going to grow, so he’ll get about nine months to a year out of this one and then he will have to come again and get a new socket.”

“I think it’s great. Just to see him pull his trousers up this morning, it was just something that he had never done, and he has been shown how to cut with a knife and fork. It just looked so natural for him. He can do things for himself without us helping him.”

Alison Goodwin, prosthetist at Touch Bionics, based in Livingston, West Lothian, said: “He’s the youngest we’ve fitted so far [with] the extra-small hand that we now have available. It’s been great to have the experience this week of fitting the youngest ever person with the i-limb hand.”

The i-limb quantum was only released in June, and incorporates the company’s i-mo technology which allows forward, backward and side-to-side movements, enabling grips such as a pinch grip or a lateral grip.

Goodwin said: “It works from electrodes which are positioned on the surface of his skin within the socket of his prosthesis, so this is the custom-made part which is fitted on to his residual limb. When he tenses these muscles, the electrodes open and close the hand.

“He’s not worked these muscles because he has not used this type of prothesis before, and obviously without having a hand he has spent about nine years not using those muscles. But he has developed them very well this week and has been working great with them.”

Source The Guardian

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