British soldier gets forces’ first bionic arm

Saturday, February 19, 2011

LONDON - A British soldier, who lost his arm in a grenade attack in Afghanistan, has become the country’s first military amputee to be fitted with a bionic arm.

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

The 23-year-old soldier was fitted with the device at a hospital in Birmingham, Sky News reported citing the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS).

“When I first got hit and was in 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 to measure me for a new arm,” he said.

The prosthetist told him: “We’ve got this new arm which will work for you. It won’t be as good as a normal arm but it will be the next best thing.”

Garthwaite, who controls the arm’s movements by using muscles in his chest and back, said he 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.

He said he was honoured to be the first person in the British military to get such an arm.

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