Two Ukrainian soldiers who suffered amputations after being wounded by landmines are being fitted with state-of-the-art bionic arms made in the UK.
They are the first war veterans to be fitted with the new Hero Arm – a 3D printed prosthesis made by Bristol-based technology company Open Bionics.
Andrii Gidzun and Vitalii Ivashchuk tried the arm this week in Munich. They have movable fingers and thumbs that allow them to pinch and grasp objects. It is controlled by sensors activated by muscles in the forearm.
Apartment strike death toll rises – Ukrainian war live updates
Custom prostheses will now be made for the two men on 3D printers and fitted next month.
Vitalii, 24, described testing the Hero Arm as a “very cool feeling”, adding: “I’m happy to have such an opportunity to get such a functional prosthesis. I didn’t even hope for it not.
“When the electrodes were attached and I had the opportunity to test this prosthesis, I just enjoyed it. I was happy, to put it mildly.”
The men’s prosthesis was funded by Mastercard, which is supporting the Superhumans charity to raise £33m to build a specialist hospital in the Ukrainian city of Lviv.
The Superhumans Center will work with Open Bionics to provide prostheses, rehabilitation and counseling to civilians and soldiers who have lost limbs as a result of the war.
The first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, is on the center’s board.
War in Ukraine likely to ‘continue for some time’, US Secretary of State warns
‘Insult to humanity’: Ukrainian first lady criticizes leaders at Davos
The Ukraine government estimates that at least 62,000 square miles of its territory are littered with landmines and other unexploded ordnance.
Joel Gibbard, who headed the Open Bionics team customizing the prosthesis, told Sky News that civilian casualties include children, who are often unaware of the risks.
He said: “We’ve heard of circumstances where they’ve picked them up and of course lost limbs. When we designed the Hero Arm, we decided to make it suitable for children as young as eight years old.
“It’s not yet technologically at the level where it can be a replacement for a human hand. We designed it for activities of daily life.
“We’re aiming for it to be able to hold objects of different sizes, to pick things up, to hold a cup of coffee, to tie shoelaces, to brush teeth – those are the kinds of things we focused on in the design.”
Olga Rudneva, CEO of Superhumans, said: “The philosophy of Superhumans is that our patients receive the best medical service at home, next to their families, in their own language.
“Once the Superhuman Center opens, it will take up to 3,000 patients every year. All services will be free for patients thanks to partners and donors.”