Two Ukrainian soldiers who lost a hand after being wounded by landmines are being fitted with state-of-the-art bionic arms made in the UK.
The charity helping them access the hi-tech prosthetics aims to help thousands of others.
The ‘Hero Arms’, which are 3D printed, have moveable fingers and thumbs allowing wearers to pinch and grasp objects. They’re controlled through myoelectric sensors that harness the electrical impulses generated by muscles.
In other words, when a person wearing the bionic arm contracts their muscles, thinking about making specific movements, those signals are translated to similar movements in the prosthetic.
‘Very cool feeling’
Andrii Gidzun and Vitalii Ivashchuk were the first two soldiers to receive ‘Hero Arms’ after both received mine-explosive injuries to their hands that resulted in amputations last year.
"It's a very cool feeling. I cannot describe it,” said Ivashchuk, 24, after a day of testing the technology.
Each of the prosthetics is bespoke and has removable covers that detach magnetically, so the wearer can change the style and design, says Open Bionics, the British tech firm behind them.
“It's not just about function. It's very much about mental health and psychological impact as well,” explains the company’s co-founder and CEO, Joel Gibbard.
He says the ‘Hero Arms’ carry a “message of empowerment” that aims to make wounded war veterans as comfortable as possible through their rehabilitation.
Open Bionics partnered with Superhumans, a Ukrainian charitable foundation delivering prosthetic care and rehabilitation to people who have lost limbs or have become injured as a result of the war with Russia.
Superhumans, with support from Ukraine’s Ministry of Health and first lady Olena Zelenska, is building a specialist hospital in Lviv which will serve civilians and soldiers injured in the war.
The hospital will focus on delivering prosthetics to new amputees, rehabilitation, and counselling.
"We're expecting to serve thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians by providing them [with] new possibilities and new limbs and just bringing them back to normal life," said Olga Rudneva, the CEO of Superhumans.
According to reports, Ukraine is the most mined territory in the world right now and the latest UN report says 11,144 civilians have been injured so far in this war.
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