F1 fan given bionic hand by Mercedes GP team
A 14-year-old Formula 1 fan has been granted a special wish by the Mercedes Grand Prix team, and has been given a new bionic hand.
Matthew James was born without a left hand, and wrote to Mercedes GP's boss Ross Brawn to ask if he could help out with the development of a new prosthetic version to replace his basic and unflexible one.
As a return for the company's investment, Matthew said he would allow Mercedes to 'sponsor' his new hand, by putting the company logo on it.
Mercedes was touched by Matthew's "intelligent and moving letter" and team principle Ross Brawn was personally motivated by the fact that the teenager currently attends his old school in Reading.
"Matthew's letter to the team was very touching, and of particular personal significance given my close relationship to Reading School, which both Matthew and I have attended," said Ross.
Matthew had even gone so far as to identify the limb he wanted – the i-LIMB Pulse, developed by Touch Bionics. Unfortunately with the hand normally costing around £30,000, it was far too expensive, and not available on the NHS.
As a result of his letter, Mercedes got in touch with Matthew and Touch Bionics to see what could be done. Touch Bionics agreed to waive its usual fees in exchange for the use of Mercedes' technology centre, and Mercedes helped with the fundraising for the remaining money required.
The new limb has made a massive difference to Matthew's life already, as he said:
"My current arm has two sensors located at the end which literally pick up the impulses of the muscles in my lower arm. It is a simple 'open and close' mechanism, like a claw," said Matthew.
"The new hand, the i-LIMB Pulse, has five individual motors in each finger and therefore each finger can move individually. Whilst it is a open/close mechanism as well, it has different modes and settings which you can use to change the 'opening mode', so for example you can go from operating all fingers to using two and it locks the other three."
''I am actually looking forward to getting back to school so I can test it out, it's going to be so much fun.
''I like science and am planning to go into engineering but I used to struggle with lab experiments - now they should not be a problem."