The NHS has announced that amputees in England will now be able to access life-changing bionic arms.
Newly available bionic arms will be offered to dozens of amputees. The prosthetics will be controlled by electrical brain signals and have multi-grip capabilities, allowing for a greater range of movement.
The technology will be introduced following two independent reviews of its use and a successful rollout for veterans. Previously, bionic arms were only available on the NHS to military veterans who were injured in service
The new technology will allow for improved movement
Previously, only basic prosthetics models, with limited open and close gripping motions, were offered on the NHS. Cosmetic prosthetics with no functionality were also available.
Patients must have enough residual upper arm muscles to send signals that create intuitive movements to be eligible for the bionic arms. Children as young as nine years old will be able to use the technology, allowing them to improve their play and learning.
“These incredible multi-grip prosthetics have already made a huge difference to veterans and so it is fantastic to be able to offer them to all patients in England who need them,” said NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard.
“The arms, for both children and adults, use the very latest tech, which will boost peoples’ independence and change the lives of dozens across the country. The NHS is at the forefront of medical innovation and this rollout is the latest example of how we are adopting the best medical advances for patients,” added Pritchard.
The bionic arms have been well-received by the public
The bionic arms have received several positive testimonies from users of the prosthetics. Darren Fuller, 46, who lives in Colchester, Essex, has said his life has been significantly improved by the high-tech bionic arm after he was injured in military service.
Darren lost his right hand and forearm in 2008, aged 32, in a mortar ammunition explosion while he was serving as a member of the Parachute Regiment in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
The NHS Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel funded the manufacturing of bionic arms in 2020, which has transformed lives like Darren’s. The technology has enabled Darren to do activities that would not be possible with limited-function prosthetics. Darren has expressed his delight that others will be able to benefit from the technology.
“It will massively change peoples’ lives because they will be able to do things more independently – they have amazing functionality. I can hold a paintbrush and paint or pick up a glass and drink from it,” said Darren.
“I have a seven-year-old daughter and it allows me to do a lot more with her, such as arts and crafts. I don’t feel excluded from any part of her life anymore and there’s not much I can’t do with her.
“It will be like Christmas for those people who are eligible for this, have wanted one and have been waiting for this day,” he concluded.