Dozens of amputees will be able to access life-changing bionic arms which can mimic real hand movements, the NHS announced today.
The newly available bionic arms – controlled by electrical brain signals – have multi-grip capabilities, enabling a greater range of movements to make day-to-day tasks easier.
The NHS will make the technology available to every patient across England who needs it, following two independent reviews into their use and the successful rollout for veterans.
Previously, the cutting-edge prosthetics were only available on the NHS to military veterans injured in service.
Prosthetics offered by the NHS previously were basic models, with limited open and close gripping motions, or others were cosmetic with no function.
Eligible patients must have enough residual upper arm muscles to send signals that create intuitive movements, but children as young as nine can use them, allowing them to improve their play and learning.
Each patient is carefully assessed to find the right type of prosthetic for them depending on their requirements and capabilities.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “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.
“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”.
Dad Darren Fuller, 46, who lives in Colchester, Essex, with his wife and seven-year-old daughter, Sky, can testify how a bionic arm has improved his life after the military veteran received the high-tech prosthetic.
Aged 32, he lost his right hand and forearm in 2008 in a mortar ammunition explosion while he was serving as a member of the Parachute Regiment in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
In 2020, the NHS Veterans’ Prosthetics Panel funded a bionic arm which has transformed his life – enabling him to do things he once took for granted – and he is delighted that eligible patients can benefit from the new technology too.
Darren said: “It will massively change peoples’ lives because they will be able to do things more independently – they have amazing functionality. I can hold a paint brush and paint or pick up a glass and drink from it.
“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 been waiting for this day”.