London amputee given a new lease of life by "great" 3D-printed prosthetic
An 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 has regained the use of fingers and can once again cook, go mountain biking and play VR Games.
Suleman 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 which would make his life easier and allow him to do two-handed activities once again.
"When I had my amputation, there wasn’t much around," Suleman said. "My NHS centre gave me a dummy latex hand that didn’t have any function. It was really heavy, so I didn’t really use it."
Around a year ago, Mr Chohan was approached by British robotics company Open Bionics, who were looking to test the new prototype of their Hero Gauntlet prosthetic. 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.
"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.
"When I’m out with it sometimes it gets a lot of attention from people - 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.
"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."
Hellie Mutter, a mechanical engineer at Open Bionics, added: "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."