Mind and Body

British Teenager Gets Helping Hand With Bionic Arm

  • Matthew James, 14, shows off his new bionic hand made by Touch Bionics.

    Matthew James, 14, shows off his new bionic hand made by Touch Bionics.  (Touch Bionics)

  • Matthew poses with the i-LIMB pulse technology.

    Matthew poses with the i-LIMB pulse technology.  (Touch Bionics)

A British teenager is now the proud owner of a high-tech bionic hand – thanks to a Formula 1 racing team.

Matthew James, 14, was born missing his left hand and had adjusted to life with a simple open-and-close grip prosthetic limb. But after learning about the new electronic hand called the i-LIMB Pulse – the determined student from Wokingham, Berkshire, knew he had to have it.

There’s was just one catch: Matthew knew her couldn’t afford the $57,000 device, so the Formula 1 fan wrote a letter to the Mercedes GP Petronas racing team asking for help.

In his letter, the teenager explained how the new hand would give him more control and freedom, and a much greater range of motions.

He then offered up a proposal to the F1 team, asking them to pay for the artificial hand, and in return, he would let the company sponsor it by putting their Mercedes logo on it.

Team leader Ross Brawn said they were so touched by the letter, they invited Matthew to the Mercedes headquarters, where he toured the factory and met racing driver Michael Schumacher.

“It is just amazing,” Matthew said. “My old artificial hand had a pretty basic open-close mechanism similar to a clamp. But with this one I can do everything.”

After learning more about the prosthetic device – and how it was created using similar technologies to those used in F1 racing – Brawn said they were eager to help.

They got in touch with the bionic hand's developer, Touch Bionics, and a few months later, Matthew had his own fitted.

"It also looks really cool," the teen said. “The outer shell is see through so you can actually see the mechanics working. They are even going to put a little Mercedes badge by the wrist."

Matthew said he would now be able to take part in sports involving two hands, like cricket, as well school science lab experiments, which had always been a struggle for him.

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