Fife boy first in UK to be fitted with bionic hand

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A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy who was bullied at school for having only one hand has become the first boy in the UK to be fitted with a child-size state-of-the art bionic hand which can be programmed with a phone app.

Josh Cathcart, who was born with his right arm missing from the elbow down, is now using the i-limb Quantum to carry out a host of everyday things from playing games to becoming more independent.

Josh Cathcart. Picture Ian Rutherford

Josh Cathcart. Picture Ian Rutherford

Developed by Touch Bionics in Livingston, West Lothian, a world-leader in prosthetic technologies, the £30,000 extra small version of their prosthetic hand is mostly controlled by signals from muscles in the upper arm.

The app can be used to “fine tune” 36 possible grips and means the hand can be used for actions such using a computer mouse or gripping and using a an aerosol bottle.

Clare and James Cathcart, Josh’s parents, started a fund-raising Facebook page for the bionic hand after they discovered Josh was bullied at school because of his disability.

They raised over £3,000 in three days before a relative in Australia stepped in with the money.

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.

Josh Cathcart

Yesterday Josh, from Dalgety Bay, Fife, said he was now doing things on his “wish-list”.

“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.”

Josh added that he liked the hand’s black sleeve because it was “cool.”

Josh Cathcart, pictured here with his mum Clare and dad James. Picture Ian Rutherford

Josh Cathcart, pictured here with his mum Clare and dad James. Picture Ian Rutherford

Mrs Cathcart said it had been an emotional time.

“It’s been overwhelming to be honest, a real rollercoaster of emotions. Josh had been getting picked on and became quite withdrawn and upset, so we started looking for something a bit more advanced, something that moved.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.”

Alison Goodwin, prosthetist at Touch Bionics, where Josh has been spending this week being fitted with his prosthesis, said: “We only released the i-limb Quantum in June, so it’s brand new and offers some new features such as what we call i-mo technology, which allows him to do forward, backward and side-to-side movements, so he can enter grips such as a pinch grip or a lateral grip.

“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. 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 of not using those muscles, but he has developed them very well this week and has been working great with them.”

SEE ALSO : Touch Bionics ‘back in black’ after i-limb launch