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Monday, 19 September, 2022

Mum of meningitis survivor and bionic influencer celebrates huge NHS win for amputees

Multi-grip myoelectric control prosthetic hands are now available as a routine commissioning treatment option on the NHS for upper limb amputees

Following a clinical commissioning policy published on 22nd August, NHS England concluded that “there is enough evidence to make the myoelectric control multi-grip prosthetic available and insufficient evidence to support non-myoelectric control multi-grip prosthetics at this time.” The news means that NHS Prosthetists in the UK can now commission multi-grip bionic hands for patients with an upper limb difference, as an alternative to the older prosthetic hand options currently available through the NHS.

Sarah Lockey, mother to meningitis survivor and bilateral amputee Tilly Lockey, is triumphant after spending a decade advocating for this technology to be made available not just to her daughter but to all children and adults in need: “After hearing the news today that the NHS are looking to change their policy to include a multi-grip prosthetic arm as part of their routine commissioning, my heart was filled with so much love and pride.

¨This is what we have been fighting for and finally, I feel like we are starting to be heard. I just want to thank everyone who has supported this campaign and who has spoken up in the fight to give evidence of why a multi-grip prosthetic should be included in NHS care. This technology should be accessible to everyone who will benefit from it and I feel like today will go down in history.”, says Sarah.

When Tilly lost both hands to meningitis as a toddler, Sarah made a promise that she would stop at nothing to get improve her daughter’s life, and she believes that Tilly’s progress with her Hero Arms over the years has achieved that and wants more than anything for these devices to be funded nationally for all amputees. “I know that this is just the first step and there are still processes to follow before the NHS will start delivering Hero Arms to amputees in the UK, but this is such a huge win. So many children and adults want bionic arms like Tilly, and this is the first step for those hand amputees to be able to access the care and bionic hand they need.”

Open Bionics was founded with a mission to make advanced bionic technology more widely available. It has taken 7 years of conversations with clinicians and decision makers at every level to reach this moment.

“Before this decision was made, only a very small group of very wealthy people could access this technology via private healthcare. This is a huge win for upper limb amputees in the UK. Our Hero Arm users played a significant role in changing national policy by voicing their enthusiastic support of policy change; I thank them for their patience, perseverance, and engagement with NHS England,” said Samantha Payne, Open Bionics Co-Founder and COO.

Up to this point, NHS prosthetic hands have been either: body powered, meaning they are controlled by the remaining muscles or opposite side via a pulley system; passive functional prosthetics, which can help the user with the appearance of limb loss and but doesn’t move; or single-grip myoelectric control prosthetics, which are controlled by a battery source, but with limited movement.

Multi-grip prosthetic hands offer more than one grip pattern, it allows for a greater range of movements, making completing tasks easier and promoting a greater sense of functionality and independence for those with a limb difference.

The Hero Arm is the lightest and smallest multi-grip available in the UK made for children as young as 7 years old. Wearers can even choose what their bionic arm looks like after the company worked with Disney to create official Iron Man and Star Wars bionic arms.

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