22 Aug 2015

Thumbs up for boy's bionic hand

11:55 am on 22 August 2015

A nine-year-old boy from Scotland has become the youngest in the world to be fitted with a bionic hand.

Josh Cathcart, from Dalgety Bay in Fife, was born with his right arm missing from the elbow down.

He said was "happy" because he used to get "badly bullied" and that he was now enjoying "stacking up blocks, tying a knot, pulling up my trousers".

The i-limb quantum was designed by Touch Bionics.

Controlled by the wearer's muscle signals and a mobile app, the i-limb quantum was said to be the first prosthetic hand that could change grips with a gesture.

The wearer could activate the desired grip by moving the hand in any of four different directions.

The limb came in three sizes, the smallest of which fits youngsters like Josh.

"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," Josh said.

"I made myself a bagel yesterday. I can open bottles and packets with it, I can stack up blocks and I can build Lego with it."

Parents Clare and James said the new limb allowed Josh to live more independently.

"Josh had been getting picked on and became quite withdrawn and upset, so we started looking for something a bit more advanced, something that moved," Mrs Cathcart said.

"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 it much thought to it, but as time went on I blamed myself for it.

"It gives him his independence, so he can now make his own food and tidy his own room."

Alison Goodwin, prosthetist at Touch Bionics, said: "Josh has spent this week with us being fitted with the Touch Bionics i-limb quantum prosthesis.

"He's the youngest we've fitted so far because of the extra small hand that we now have available, so it's been great to now have the experience this week of fitting the youngest-ever person with the i-limb hand.

"We do fit the hand worldwide but he's the first one that we have fitted here in Scotland, so it's great that he's a local lad.

"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 those muscles, the electrodes open and close the hand."

-BBC

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