A hand amputee has been given a new lease of life after becoming the first person to be fitted out with a new 3D-printed prosthetic hand three decades after he lost his own.
Suleman Chohan says the mobility of the fingers on his “work of art” Hero Gauntlet, has allowed him to return to doing the things he loves.
The 50-year-old teacher from east London is now able to control and move the fingers of his state-of-the-art prosthetic, meaning he can once again cook, mountain bike and play VR Games.
Chohan lost his hand in an industrial accident 30 years ago and was forced to undergo a traumatic amputation.
Ever since he’s been searching for a prosthetic that would make his life easier and allow him to do two-handed activities once again.
When his accident occurred, however, the technology on offer for amputees like himself was far from sophisticated.
“When I had my amputation, there wasn’t much around,” Chohan explained.
“My NHS center gave me a dummy latex hand that didn’t have any function. It was really heavy, so I didn’t really use it.”
But around a year ago, Chohan was approached by British robotics company Open Bionics, who were looking to test the new prototype of their Hero Gauntlet prosthetic.
The space-age, active partial hand prosthetic is custom-made for each user using 3D scanning, printing and modeling technology, and enables those born without fingers or those who’ve undergone partial hand amputation to regain their hand functionality.
The device is described as the difference between wearers being able to hold cutlery to cut their food or having to find an alternative method.
As for Chohan, his ‘beautiful’ Hero Gauntlet has helped him rediscover his love of VR gaming, cooking and mountain biking, as well as making more mundane tasks such as using his phone and going shopping far easier.
“I love VR gaming,” he said. “The trouble is, I couldn’t hold both controllers.
“It really frustrated me – up to a point where I sellotaped the controller to my amputation, which was weird and didn’t really work anyway.
“But now, I can enjoy the full VR experience, and it just feels so great to be able to hold both controllers.”
Chohan added he enjoys the positive reactions his prosthetic elicits in strangers, and is gaining confidence in its many uses.
“When I’m out with it sometimes it gets a lot of attention from people,” he continued. “It makes me feel pretty cool.
“Before, I could only hold shopping bags in my left hand, so I was limited to what I could carry.
“But now when I’m out and about, I can carry two or three bags.
“When I lock the digits, I’ve got my finger fixed there, and I can swipe on my phone and type text messages.
“Whereas before, without the prosthetic, I ended up smashing my phone so many times.
On his experience with the Hero Gauntlet, Chohan added: “I’m just proud and honored to be a part of it.
“It has definitely boosted my confidence because it has given me the ability to do things I thought I would never be able to do again – and that feels really good.
“I feel comfortable when I’m out shopping, I feel comfortable in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and stuff.
“It’s a work of art, it’s amazing. Honestly, it’s brilliant stuff they can do.”
In working closely with a pool of people testing the Hero Gauntlet, Open Bionics has been able to assess how certain features performed under the strain of everyday life.
Hellie Mutter, a mechanical engineer at the robotics firm, explained: “We designed the product in collaboration with users via lab testing, weekly diaries, and clinic visits.
“We were really excited to see how intuitive our users found the active operation mechanism, which meant that even the early prototype versions were able to open up new experiences for our users.
“It’s been especially great to hear how the look of the device has given some of our test users a confidence boost regarding their limb difference.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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