Ukraine’s wounded soldiers to get bionic arms fitted by UK firm

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Two wounded Ukrainian soldiers are set to have bionic hands made by a British tech company after they suffered mine-explosive injuries in the war. Explosions in the conflict forced the Ukrainian fighets to get amputations and lose a limb. But Open Bionics, a Bristol-based tech company specialising in creating bionic state-of-the-art bionic arms for amputees, is set to provide them with a lifeline.

Open Bionics CEO Joel Gibbard MBE headed to Munich in Germany to test out the Hero Arm, an advanced 3D printed bionic hand, on the two wounded Ukrainians. The team also delivered clinical training to three Ukrainian clinicians.

Ukrainians Andrii Gidzun and Vitalii Ivashchuk are set to be the first two soldiers to receive Hero Arms following the injuries they suffered on the battlefield trying to protect their country.

The robotic arm has moveable fingers and thumbs that allow them to pinch and grasp objects. It gets controlled by sensors that are activated by muscles in the forearm. The soldiers will receive the custom-made prostheses next month.

Mr Ivashchuk, 24, said testing out the Hero Arm was a “very cool feeling”.

He said: “I am pleased that I have such an opportunity to get such a functional prosthesis. I did not even hope for it.

“When the electrodes were applied and I had the opportunity to test this prosthesis, I just enjoyed it. I was pleased, to put it mildly.”

The bionic arms for the two soldiers have been funded by Mastercard, which is supporting the charitable foundation Superhumans to raise £33million to set up a specialist hospital in the Lviv, Ukraine.

The Superhumans Centre will partner with Open Bionics to provide the Hero Arms, as well as rehabilitation and counselling to civilians and soldiers who have lost limbs amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion.

Mr Gibabrd told Sky News civilian casualties in the war can include children, who can often be unaware of the potential risks.

He said: “We’ve heard of circumstances where they’ve been picking them up and obviously then losing limbs. So when we designed the Hero Arm, we decided to try and make it appropriate for children as young as eight years old.

“It’s not yet at the level technologically where it could be a replacement for a human hand. We designed it for activities of daily living. We’re aiming for it to be able to hold objects of different sizes, to pick things up, hold a cup of coffee, tie shoelaces, brush teeth – these are the kind of things that we focused on in the design.”

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Olga Rudneva, the chief executive of Superhumans, said the Hero Arms can be given to children as young as eight years old.

He 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 centre opens, it will take up to 3,000 patients each year. All services will be free for patients thanks to partners and donors.

“We’ve heard of circumstances where they’ve been picking them up and obviously then losing limbs. So when we designed the Hero Arm, we decided to try and make it appropriate for children as young as eight years old.”

This week, it was reported that the use of explosive weapons in Ukraine pushed civilian casualties to a four-year high. According to Action on Armed Violence (AOVA), the use of explosive weapons skyrocketed by 83 percent last year due to the war in Ukraine.

It added the total number reported killed and injured in 2022 was 20,776, the highest level since 2018, with 10,381 casualties just in Ukraine, based on reports from English language media.

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