AN award-winning inventor who developed an artificial limb for his son has teamed up with SDC to further progress the bionic arm.
Ben Ryan developed the limb for his son, Sol, using X-Box accessories and a 3D printer, after doctors were forced to amputate the two-year-old’s arm below the elbow when he suffered a severe blood clot at 10 days old.
The family from Anglesey were told that they would have to wait until Sol was at least three before the NHS could offer a prosthetic limb.
But former psychology lecturer, Mr Ryan was not prepared to wait, as he’d heard of children who rejected their prosthetic limbs as they’d been fitted too late so decided to develop his own, despite having no background in engineering.
Two years on Sol can use his arm to grip and power the hydraulic arm, as if the arm was always his own.
Mr Ryan through his company-Ambionics has gone on to receive five awards in the field of paediatric prosthetic development.
Now the pioneering invention has moved a step closer with the launch of a trial involving children under the age of three from across the world.
“Each arm created is customised to the user from a 3D scan of their limb,” said Mr Ryan.
“We clean up the scan data then design, and supply test sockets followed by the full arm system.
“Most of the children taking part in the trial are from Wales and the rest of the UK, but we also have youngsters in Europe, Australia, Africa, Canada and South America.”
Mr Ryan will be working with Martin O’Leary head of DT at SDC and pupil Mitzi Taltson to create added value to Sol’s bionic arm.
“We are going to be doing lots of cool stuff, such as developing a Buzz Lightyear buzzer for the back of Sol’s bionic hand, or a light sabre as Sol has just seen Star Wars for the first time and fancies one,” said Mr O’Leary.
“Mitzi was very keen to get involved as she wants to be a design engineer.”
Mr Ryan said: “Through my past career as a lecturer I’ve been to around 180 sixth form colleges and colleges and I’ve never come across a school like St David’s College.
“The facilities and learning resources available here are pretty incredible.”
He added: “I’m looking forward to be playing around with ideas with Mr O’Leary and his students.”
“I find young students such Mitzi have more interesting ideas rather than seasoned engineers, and I also find girls don’t overthink things like boys,” said Mr Ryan.