8-year-old makes history with ‘superhero’ bionic arm

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

An 8-year-old British boy has made medical history as the youngest and smallest person to be fitted with an advanced multigrip bionic arm, according to its manufacturer.

At the top of his to-do list with his new prosthesis: High-five his friends.

Freddie Cook was fitted with his “Hero Arm” last week, days before his birthday, in a move that could revolutionize treatment for young people with “limb differences” in the UK, manufacturer Open Bionics said.

Freddie was born without a right hand, and doctors warned at the time that it could be more than 20 years before bionic technology would be available in the UK. Suzy Cook, Freddie’s mother, said that her son’s condition had not affected him in his early years but that he had become “very self-conscious” in the past year or so.

He was “beside himself with excitement” over the new arm and “couldn’t wait to move his fingers,” she said.

Freddie’s previous prostheses were “doll-like” and offered only limited control, she said, adding that he was excited to “high-five, shake hands” and do everything that most people take for granted.

Open Bionics describes the arm as the world’s first clinically approved, 3D-printed bionic arm. The startup, based in the southern English city of Bristol, says it is the first to develop the technology for children as young as 8.

Co-founder Samantha Payne said Freddie’s prosthesis was a “great milestone.” She said a bionic arm had never been fitted on someone so small, adding that it was a “great step forward.”

She said the company aims to “offer people with limb differences an aesthetic choice.” This includes a superhero design for children. “We also wanted to encourage young people to see their disability or limb difference as their superpower, something unique about them that is to be celebrated.”

The prosthesis is lightweight and responds to electrical signals in the muscles of the affected arm. “The bionic hand is controlled by tensing the same muscles which are used to open and close a biological hand,” the company said in a statement.

The bionic arm translates the electrical signals into a series of grips and movements, which allow for much greater control than other prostheses, including picking up delicate objects and gripping playground equipment.

Open Bionics develops the prostheses using scans or plaster casts. The 3D printing process allows for fast and relatively cheap production, slashing costs of up to £100,000 ($130,000) for other multigrip prostheses to about £10,000 ($13,000).

Payne said the price could be cut even further for the UK’s National Health Service, as the current fee includes private clinical costs.

The technology was made possible after Open Bionics received £698,000 ($903,000) of NHS funding for clinical trials in order to get the prostheses medically certified.

The arm is already available in the French public health care system but isn’t available on the NHS in Britain.

Open Bionics has raised a further £4.6 million ($5.9 million) in funding, allowing it to target international markets including France and the United States.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News