Disability news

Disabled man fitted with first bionic arm of its kind

Michael Altheim drinking from a glass using his new bionic arm

A man who lost four fingers can hold items again after becoming the first person to receive a pioneering bionic hand.

Michael Altheim has been fitted with the Hero Gauntlet, a device manufactured by Open Bionics, based in Bristol that develops low-cost, 3D printed bionic arms for amputees with below elbow amputations.

The 52-year-old from Frankfurt, Germany, said he was very pleased with his new hand, which works ‘perfectly without delay.’

His ‘Gauntlet’ comes complete with 3D-printed fingers strapped onto the hand’s palm controlled by the wearer's wrist movements.

Mr Altheim can now grip and hold objects for the first time in ten years since being involved in a serious accident.

He told BBC News: "I previously had partial finger solutions, but the weight was really heavy, operation minimal and it wasn't waterproof.

"I could maybe fold a towel and that was it ... When I slipped the Hero Gauntlet on and moved my joint and then my fingers went - I thought in amazement 'Oh yes, look there.'"

Altheim intends to use the device when going on bike rides, carrying out DIY and holding shopping baskets whilst loading groceries with his other hand.

Samantha Payne, chief operating officer and co-founder of Open Bionics, said: "We've had so many requests from the limb difference community to design and develop a partial hand solution that offers function and comfort for all-day wear.

"It's pure joy to see this piece of engineering have an instant positive impact on activities Michael loves doing."

The company is working with German insurance businesses offering their technology to amputees, where there are "many more German citizens currently undergoing trials for this technology".

[ Open Bionics also produces a 3D-printed prosthetic called the Hero Arm, which it has fitted people with in the UK, America, Ukraine, Germany, and Australia. ]

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