The Tej Kohli Foundation is funding 3D-printed bionic arms for 10 British children from Bristol-based robotics pioneer Open Bionics. As a reminder, Open Bionics builds and develops low-cost 3D printed bionic limbs.

Investor Tej Kohli is to fund the purchase of ten bionic arms for children with limb differences in the UK. The Tej Kohli Foundation hopes that its commitment to fund arms for ten children over the next 5 months as part of its ‘Future Bionics’ program will highlight how assistive technology can substantially improve the lives and confidence of young people living with disabilities. The Tej Kohli Foundation hopes to inspire and influence other healthcare institutions to follow this lead and discover the advanced 3D-printed technology.

In England, the National Health Service (‘NHS’) currently provides a single-grip myoelectric-controlled (‘myo’) prosthesis at a cost of approximately £8,000. However, the Open Bionics Hero Arm can be controlled with the electrical signals generated by a user’s muscles and has superior multi-grip functionality that enables users to perform many more everyday activities.

The Open Bionics Hero Arm costs £10,000 through a private prosthetics clinic in the UK, whereas other advanced multi-grip bionic hands cost £30,000 - £60,000. The Tej Kohli Foundation will spend an initial £100,000 to launch its ‘Future Bionics’ programme, which will enable ten British children to access not just a superior technology, but a better life.

The first Hero Arm recipient is 10-year-old Jacob Pickering from Blackburn, who will receive his new Hero Arm just in time for Christmas. Jacob was born without his right arm as a result of amniotic band syndrome. All Jacob has spoken about for the past month is the Hero Arm, and his father David is “completely overwhelmed” that Jacob has been selected for a donation and claims that it will “change Jacob’s life”. The second Hero Arm recipient is 14-year-old Harris Gribble from Exeter, who is a keen Rugby and Cricket player.

The lightweight Hero Arm is currently the only multi-grip myo prosthetic arm that is available for paediatric use. The enhanced ability of the user to be able to personalise their 3D-printed Open Bionics Hero Arm is also a huge boost to mental well-being and to perceived social acceptance. This is particularly important for younger people.

Investor Tej Kohli first discovered Bristol-based Open Bionics when he invested into ‘Rewired’, a robotics-focused venture studio ‘with a humanitarian bent’ that was a very-early backer of Open Bionics in 2017.

Tej Kohli, Co-Founder of the Tej Kohli Foundation said:

“We started the Tej Kohli Foundation in 2005 with a project to provide daily meals for 1,000 children in Costa Rica. Since then the Tej Kohli Foundation has supported projects all over the world and helped tens of thousands of people, especially those living with disability. This gift of ten bionic arms is the first project that we have ever initiated in the UK. I see it as just the beginning, and my hope is that this gift will help to highlight the positive difference that technology can make to the confidence and prospects of a younger person. We’re doing this as an example, but we hope that others will follow our lead. These technologies are now so accessible and affordable that healthcare organisations such as the NHS should do more to embrace and improve access to them for disabled young people.”

Samantha Payne, Co-Founder and COO of Open Bionics said:

“We’re really grateful to the Tej Kohli Foundation for pledging to fund advanced bionic arms for ten children in the UK. These children are amongst dozens of people with upper limb differences in the UK fundraising right now for a Hero Arm. We've worked really hard to achieve a price point for the device that is acceptable for existing NHS budgets for prosthetic provision, and we very much hope the NHS sees how helpful these devices are and will begin offering them to the people who need them.”

 

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