In an interview with ITV News earlier this week, a state of the art prosthetics technology company argued that prosthetic limbs should now be available on the NHS.
Open Bionics, a technology company based in Bristol specialising in creating prosthetic limbs for young amputees, have presented their case through co-owner Samantha Payne who believes bionic limbs should be far more accessible.
She said: “We have created the most affordable multi-grip bionic hand, so it’s at a price point that’s affordable enough for NHS healthcare.
“We wanted to create a bionic technology that was very advanced but available, democratically, to the masses.”
Louise Riley, Senior Solicitor at Fletchers Solicitors, is hugely in favour of Open Bionic’s latest range of affordable prosthetic limbs and has direct experience successfully handling cases for individuals who have gone on to require prosthetic support over and above anything afforded by the NHS.
One claimant trialled the BiOM prosthetic foot in the private sector which can potentially restore more function than any other foot and enable more natural gait.
“I’ve seen lots of innovations in prosthetics in the private sector in a short space of time and there are constant improvements as technology advances.
“3D printing of lightweight limbs is an extremely exciting development if it drops the price point and makes bionic technology available to the patients that need them on the NHS.”
The BiOM foot introduced a different kind of prosthetic limb whereby the user can walk at a natural speed and change speeds more easily.
The cost for one of the limbs is around £47,650 with a replacement every three years.
Louise continued: “Regrettably, due to funding limitations such technology is seldom seen on the NHS at present.
“The only experience I have of bionic technology is via the private sector within personal injury claims.
Claimants in personal injury claims have the right to elect to have all of their treatment on a private basis.”
Louise also handled a case where the claimant trialled ‘the Michaelangelo hand’, a sophisticated powered prosthetic component.
Due to the severity of the claimant’s brachial plexus injury, however, a restricted range in motion of the left elbow combined with restrictions on active movement of the shoulder; much of the function of the hand was beyond him.
Louise explained: “the iLimb Quantum was recommended, which can be controlled by a mobile phone app that allows the user to change grip patterns.”
The cost of that prosthesis was around £40,000 and regular replacements would be required.
“The costs of prosthetics is dear but the function that they enable a patient/claimant to have is priceless.
“The future is looking to be extremely exciting as technology continues to advance affording even more function”