A student who lost his left hand in a car accident has told how his life has been transformed by the world’s most advanced prosthetic limb.
Evan Reynolds has been given a new lease of life by the fully functional artificial replacement, which he says he adjusted to in just a few minutes.
Mr Reynolds, 19, from Haslemere, Surrey, was the second person in Britain to be fitted with the advanced i-LIMB hand. The innovation is controlled by electronic muscle signals from the remaining part of the limb and has five independently powered digits which operate like a human hand when closing around an object.
The rugby-playing sports biology student at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, had dreamed of joining the Army and going to Sandhurst before his left hand ripped off as a friend drove him home following a day out.
He was sitting in the passenger seat with his hand resting on the wound-down window ledge when the car scraped a wooden post at the exit to the car park. Mr Reynolds’ hand was taken off instantly. His friends saved his life by applying a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
He said: “”It was very nasty. It was amputated in a second. Obviously I couldn’t join the Army any more.””
But talking about the i-Limb, he said: “”The most amazing thing about it was how quickly I adapted to it. People always ask how it’s changed my life, but there’s no specific thing. It’s the hundreds of everyday things you take for granted, which I can do again, like peeling a potato, catching a ball, holding a bottle of water. I’m incredibly grateful.””
He said: “”It’s so sensitive I can grip a bottle of water or a paper cup without crushing it, and even swing a racket. All I have to so is imagine picking something up or gripping it and the fingers and thumb move automatically.””
The i-Limb was developed by a Scottish company, Touch Bionics, and has won awards for its innovative technology. The total cost including the hand itself and the fitting is about £30,000.
Mr Reynolds’s older brother Richard saw a television report about the i-LIMB and contacted the manufacturer. The firm was still working on a prototype at the time, but after a number of tests and meetings with prosthetic specialists, Mr Reynolds had the i-LIMB fitted in February last year.
Mr Reynolds said his disability has not stopped him playing sport, his greatest passion, nor has it crushed his spirit. He still plays rugby, but makes sure he removes the expensive appendage first.
He said: “”I love sport, I still play rugby, I still play squash, but I take the i-LIMB off first.””
Time Magazine named the i-LIMB as one of the Top 50 inventions of 2008 and Touch Bionics won the Limbless Association’s Prosthetic Product Innovation Award for 2008 for the product. American soldiers injured in action are among those who have been given it.