One Arm Ahead with the HERO arm - simple tech overview and user stories

In today’s medical rehab tech overview we share a quick intro to HERO prosthesis system and share some short stories from some users -3 Min read….

This article written by the non profit team from What’s Worked, who help share the equipment and stories of people who have found a way back to work or hobbies after life altering injuries, illnesses or chronic pain

THE TECH: Launched in 2018 by Open Bionics, the Hero Arm is described as a myoelectric prosthesis with versatile multi-grip functionality. It is designed for use by adults and children over the age of 8, with acquired or congenital below-elbow limb differences. The user activates it through flexing specific muscles in the residual limb, enabling a degree of precise and intuitive control over the hand and arm mechanism.

Using high-performance batteries and microprocessors and designed with an attractive aesthetic, an improved version of the Hero Arm was brought to market in 2020. It is made of tough Nylon 12 and features among the enhancements better ventilation and adjustability.

Weighing in at a total of 1kg, the Hero Arm is a practical option for the majority of users. The hand gives versatile control over a number of applications, with different grip arrangements readily selectable. The fingertips and palm are covered in soft urethane pads so careful carrying is possible, as well as robust lifting, with a maximum load of 8kg.

When Open Bionics fits a Hero Arm, the new user becomes a member of the Bionic Squad, a group of pioneers sharing their stories about injury, struggle and finally hope. Here are some of those stories.

USER STORIES 

These are unverified user stories from Open Bionics.

Daz: Darren ‘Daz’ Fuller was the first military veteran to receive a Hero Arm. A member of the Parachute Regiment, he was injured while serving in Helmand Province when a mortar incident resulted in Daz losing his lower right arm. Following being fitted with a Hero Arm, Daz has embarked on what he calls a ‘voyage of discovery’, being able to complete tasks now with two hands where he used to struggle with one.  He says ‘I’ll do something and think “can I do that?” with the Hero Arm and give it a try and most of the time I can.’

Daz has enjoyed being able to use the Hero Arm to enable him to do the things he always wanted to with his daughter, including baking, crafting and playing games. Daz is hugely impressed with the difference is has made: ‘The functionality is absolutely amazing. I’ve tried all sorts of prosthetics over the years and this is by far the best of the lot. I really believe it’s going to improve my life

 

Sadie: 31 year old admin assistant Sadie was born with no left hand and had to make do with unsuitable prosthetics as a child before rejecting them completely as not fit for purpose. Twenty years later, she came across the Hero Arm and realised it was a game changer.

Sadie tells how she was given a hook prosthetic as a three year old which was clumsy and ugly, featuring in terms of versatility a chunk of rubber-tipped metal that was for use when typing. When she was given a bionic arm at the age of eleven, she found it too heavy and suffering from a lack of functionality. This was what precipitated her decision to reject all prosthetic assistance for two decades.

However, when she learned about the Hero Arm on Facebook, Sadie was so excited that she immediately set about crowdfunding, which resulted in a wave of donations from friends, family and strangers from far flung parts of the world.

Since then, Sadie has enjoyed the benefits that being able to use two hands can give, whether it’s changing jewellery, reading a book or just making a coffee.

Says Sadie: ‘It’s dextrous, it’s not unsightly, and it’s completely customisable. It’s perfect. The Hero Arm helps me celebrate my limb difference.’

 

Raimi: Born without her right hand, Raimi tried a range of different prosthetics that without exception failed to give the functionality that every child into sports and bike riding needs. When her parents were put in touch with Open Bionics, it was clear that a revolutionary improvement was in prospect.

From struggling to fit in, Raimi now feels that with the ‘turbo boost’ supplied by her Hero Arm she’s way over and above the norm. She can’t help smiling whenever she puts it on, and has been able to start out on a lifelong ambition: to try to learn to play the violin. And football and netball are now both so much more manageable.

Raimi revels in the uniqueness that the Hero Arm delivers and welcomes the questions it generates. She’s enormously proud of it. Overall, the Hero Arm has widened the range of possibilities in her life and made a vast difference to her confidence. Moreover, her father says that she loves being able to gesture to people with both hands - it makes her giggle every time.  

Members of the Bionic Squad often talk about their lives both before and after acquiring a Hero Arm on viral videos and TV, giving inspiration and encouragement to others. #BionicSquad.