💪 Part 2: Prosthetic arms above the elbow are impossible everyone said - until a designer turned engineer went to work

💪 Part 2: Prosthetic arms above the elbow are impossible everyone said - until a designer turned engineer went to work

In 2016, Ben Ryan designed and created his 3D printed hydraulic prosthetic arm for his son Sol. Now, Ambionics has changed the life of another child and his family.

Rich Spuller
Rich Spuller

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Earlier, we looked at the story of Sol Ryan and his father, Ben, a former psychology lecturer turned design engineer who refused to let the status quo dictate his son's future.

He began developing an idea for a replacement limb that was inspired by nature and discovered a way to use hydraulics for functioning prosthetics. In 2016, he founded Ambionics with the goal of turning this development ideas into a working reality.

Since its founding, Ambionics has gone from strength to strength.  Under Ben's leadership, the company has developed major advances in prosthetics technology. In just two years of the company's existence, Ben has been awarded nine times in national and international achievements for technology and innovation.

Of course, with this success, Ben Ryan began to gain some attention across several social media platforms for his important work in child healthcare.  Thanks to that social media exposure, the family of a 5-year-old British boy named Jacob Scrimshaw found the help that they were so desperately searching for.

When Jacob was born eight weeks early, most of his left arm was missing.  Just as with Sol Ryan, the UK's National Health Services (NHS) and most private companies said that there were no solutions.  Jacob's parents, Gemma and Chris, were told that functioning prosthetic arms were not an option when the limb ends above the elbow.

“I always thought Jacob coped well without his arm and got on with things, but when he came home from school in tears I knew we had to do something,” his mother, Gemma Turner,told South West News Service (SWNS), a British news agency.

Setting out on a mission to find a proper prosthetic for Jacob proved to be a challenge.

"We started raising money on GoFundMe. I knew what we wanted would cost an awful lot of money. We thought we would have to go to America,” said Turner.

7 months into the fundraiser, the campaign reached about $20,000, meaning Gemma and Chris were able to begin searching for the perfect prosthetic for their son.

On Instagram, Gemma came across a man named Ben Ryan, a one-time psychology teacher who is now the owner of Amnionics, a company that creates innovative prosthetics. She reached out.

Ryan responded right away, and immediately went to work with a prosthetics expert and Jacob's family to perfect a hydraulic arm for him. The family wanted an elbow that could be set in different positions, have a gripping mechanism, and a modular hand that could be swapped out for other tools.

Ryan developed a model in which the elbow can be set using a sliding lock, and the hand close when Jacob squeezes a water filled rubber chamber that is mounted to to the upper arm.  He designed the mechanism and its functionality while the arm was being cast by his colleagues in Poland.

On December 12, 2019, Ben Ryan delivered the arm to Jacob at a meeting in Righwood, Hampshire, and said the fitting was a great success and that Jacob "exceeded everybody's expectations".

Jacob is the first child in the United Kingdom to receive a functioning prosthetic arm above the elbow.

"He can give his brother a hug and hold his hand," he said.

The 5-year-old has taken to it very well, according to Ryan and Jacob’s parents. Turner said her son “loves” his new arm and she was excited to see Jacob open Christmas gifts with two hands for the first time.  More importantly, at least for young Jacob, is the arm is large, green, and superhero themed!

Jacob Scrimshaw, 5 with his new prosthetic arm. (SWNS)

Ryan added: “Jacob has smashed all expectations, already he is wanting to wear his prosthetic more than we could have hoped for. It is great that he is getting used to it."

Although the family has raised more than $21,000, they will need to continue raising money for the expensive prosthetic, since he will need replacements as he grows.

To donate to this worthy cause, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jacob-scrimshaw

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