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First Bionic Arm Given To British Soldier

February 20, 2011

Kat Higgins, Sky News Online

A soldier who lost his arm in a grenade attack in Afghanistan has become the first military amputee to be fitted with a bionic arm.

Pic: BFBS. Corporal Garthwaite uses his chest and back muscles to control the arm

Corporal Andrew Garthwaite of the Queen’s Royal Lancers lost the limb in September in a rocket-propelled grenade attack that killed another soldier.

The 23-year-old was fitted with the device at the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak Hospitals in Birmingham.

He told the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS): “When I first got hit and was in the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital I was thinking ‘oh God this is it, I can’t ride my bike again’

“I was thinking of everything I couldn’t do. But then the prosthetist came from Headley Court to measure me for a new arm.

“He said: ‘We’ve got this new arm which will work for you and in the future there’s an operation called Target Nerve Reinnervation you will be able to receive – it won’t be as good as a normal arm but it will be the next best thing.’

“That put a bit of light in my face. Now, since I’ve got the first stage of it I’m a lot happier.”

Cpl Garthwaite controls the arm’s movements by using muscles in his chest and back.

Corporal Garthwaite before he lost his right arm

His pectoral muscles can be used to pick something up and his back muscles to put it down again.

He says he has had to learn to be careful with the pressure of the hand, which can easily smash an egg or be painful for anyone he shakes hands with.

But he told BFBS he had adapted well to his new arm and is still going through rehabilitation.

Cpl Garthwaite’s progress will no doubt give hope to the hundreds of other military personnel who have lost limbs fighting for their country.

He said he was honoured to be the first person in the military to get this arm.

“It’s great – I mean I’m gutted I lost my arm but I’m just thankful there’s something out there,” he said.

For the report on Sky click here

For the report and VIDEO on BFBS click here

3 Comments leave one →
  1. jack permalink
    February 20, 2011 15:54

    bless you, cpl garthwaite. your bravery is awe inspiring. we are all so proud of you and yours. keep the faith. xo

  2. Barry Sheridan permalink
    February 20, 2011 22:53

    Since reading about advances in bionic type prosthetic technology being used in the US I did wonder if this would be rolled out to assist in the recovery of our own troops. It is heartening to read this, although as Corporal Garthwaite pointed it is not to be compared to the orginal, but it does help, which in the circumstances is all we can offer.

  3. August 11, 2011 09:08

    It is exactly what I needed to know! Appreciate this blog and the people who make it possible!

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