Richard Slusher, an amputee camp counselor from Northeast Ohio who was born with no right arm, raised funds needed in just over 5 weeks for a multi-grip bionic arm. A strong advocate for disability rights, Richard crowdfunded for a Hero Arm to support him in his day-to-day job working with children.
Recently, Richard wrote candidly for Amplitude Magazine about what it’s like living with a congenital limb difference and how challenging it has been to obtain a prosthesis he wanted “The Hero Arm is lightweight and the socket is breathable, which makes it comfortable to wear for an entire day (which I couldn’t do with my previous devices). I’m able to cook, pour drinks, open doors, and complete other tasks with far more ease than I used to. But my new prosthesis hasn’t just brought practical changes. It also has been emotionally liberating.” – Read the full feature from Richard in this Amplitude Magazine article.
After a life-time of using a prosthesis with minimal function, Richard was in awe when he was able to move his bionic fingers for the first time. The Hero Arm was custom built and uses myoelectric sensors to detect underlying muscular contractions which are then amplified and converted into intuitive bionic hand movements.
When I wear it I feel like a robot, which is so fun and it opens doors to positive communication about limb difference.
An optimist by nature, 27-year-old Richard says prosthetics he had worn before “always had this feeling of conformity, like wearing a prosthetic that looked like a real limb is what I had to do to be accepted.”
Once he decided to opt for the Hero Arm, Richard worked ran a crowdfunding campaign. He said: “I didn’t think it would do that well right out of the gate, I was so humbled by it.”
When Richard first tried on the Hero Arm, he was excited about the opportunity to make it an extension of his personality. Choosing bright blue covers, Richard described the Hero Arm as “something straight out of the future”.
He added: “When I wear it I feel like a robot, which is so fun and it opens doors to positive communication about limb difference.”
Richard comes from a close-knit community that championed him from a young age to achieve his goals, he explained: “I grew up surrounded by family members who always supported me to do whatever I wanted. I want people to see my journey as a call-to-action that their needs matter and that anyone who is not happy with their prosthetics should seek alternative options.”
“People with limb differences deserve better access to prosthetics that fulfill their physical and psychological needs. We hope the Hero Arm will empower Richard to continue to achieve his goals and encourage others to reach out if they need support funding their bionic arm. We’re here to help.” commented Samantha Payne, Founder & CEO of Open Bionics.
Recently, Richard spoke candidly about what it’s like living with a congenital limb difference and how challenging it has been to obtain a prosthesis he wanted “The Hero Arm is lightweight and the socket is breathable, which makes it comfortable to wear for an entire day (which I couldn’t do with my previous devices). I’m able to cook, pour drinks, open doors, and complete other tasks with far more ease than I used to. But my new prosthesis hasn’t just brought practical changes. It also has been emotionally liberating.” – Read the full feature from Richard in this Amplitude Magazine article.
We are excited to announce that Laiken Olive, whose pronouns are they/them, is the 21-year-old Artist from South Louisiana who has become the first recipient of the ‘Venom Snake’ bionic arm.
“I always get asked to do Metal Gear Solid cosplays on TikTok” says Laiken, who has amassed 26,000 followers with well over 1 million views.
In the popular video game, Venom Snake loses his arm in an explosion and wears an iconic red and black bionic arm complete with detachable missile functionality and gadgets to stun enemies.
In Metal Gear Solid, the main character wakes up from being in a coma for nine years, and I’ve been waiting a decade to have a prosthetic that is functional and intuitive to my needs.
Whilst the Hero Arm isn’t equipped with weapons, it is custom built and uses myoelectric sensors to detect underlying muscular contractions which are then amplified and converted into intuitive bionic hand movements.
When talking about the game, Laiken can see synergies with personal life experiences, “in Metal Gear Solid, the main character wakes up from being in a coma for nine years, and I’ve been waiting a decade to have a prosthetic that is functional and intuitive to my needs.”
“The first time my insurance claim was denied for a bionic arm, I was offered an arm with a heavy body harness most commonly known to be worn by military men. It was so heavy and put a strain on the whole body which seemed so counter-intuitive.”
From a young age, Laiken was ostracized and bullied for being different. Having to attend school wearing a hook would often be the cause for tears.
“Growing up, the only reason I would wear my prosthetic was to hide my difference.” Laiken says a lot more needs to be done to break barriers the limb difference community face daily – starting with access to prosthetic limbs.
Going through the insurance appeal process was an “emotional roller-coaster,” says Laiken. After a strenuous year of appeals Laiken had their Hero Arm fitted.
This bionic arm is now available for amputees in clinics across the USA.
Laiken says they chose the Hero Arm to help enhance their difference “I am non-binary because I never felt like I fit in what is set-out as a societal norm, so I really want to use these Metal Gear Solid covers to challenge not only the stigmas that surround limb difference, but put my spin on gender roles within the game.”
Talking about the synergies of the game and tech Takayuki Kubo, President of KONAMI DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT, Inc., said: “We’re incredibly excited to collaborate with Open Bionics, who are at the cutting edge of robotics. We’re thrilled to see the iconic Metal Gear Solid aesthetic of Venom Snake and his bionic arm burst out of the screen and come to life, in a dynamic fusion of technology and design that is changing the lives of upper limb amputees all over the world.”
Samantha Payne, COO and Co-founder of Open Bionics, said: “Venom Snake’s bionic arm is one of the most requested cover designs for the Hero Arm of all time, so we’re incredibly grateful to KONAMI for working with us to turn fiction into reality. We love seeing how Laiken uses their new bionic arm as an empowering tool.”
Open Bionics and the Hero Arm honored at Hanger LIVE 2020
Open Bionics was recognised with the 2019 Innovation Award at the 7th annual Hanger Partner Awards. The awards ceremony was held in Nashville, Tennessee, at Hanger LIVE, Hanger’s annual education conference.
Samantha Payne, Co-founder of Open Bionics, said: “We are hugely honoured for the Hero Arm to be recognised by Hanger’s team. They are an incredible team of upper limb clinicians and together we’ve created some amazing patient moments. The Hero Arm was co-designed with people with limb differences and this award really celebrates the coming together of patient feedback, clinical expertise, and industry. Hanger Clinic has become a home in the US for the Hero Arm and we’re exceptionally excited to continue working together and bring more innovations to the field. Watch this space!”
As a highly sensitive human, living with a limb difference has been rough. The Hero Arm has completely changed my world. – Kate Kehayes
The Hero Arm is a multi-grip myoelectric arm for adults and children aged 8 and over. The lightweight device, which launched in the U.S.A in April 2019, has versatile multi-grip functionality, an adjustable and breathable socket, high-performance batteries and microprocessors, and empowering aesthetics. Adult users can choose stylish sophisticated covers, and children can choose from a Disney superhero range, including Star Wars BB-8, Marvel Iron Man, and Disney Frozen Hero Arm covers.
32 year-old Hero Arm user Kate Kehayes, who was fitted with her Hero Arm at the Hanger Clinic in Raleigh, NC, said: “As a highly sensitive human, living with a limb difference has been rough. I spent years with my arm glued to my side, covered with a jacket or purse, trying so hard not to be noticed. The Hero Arm has completely changed my world. I’m now able to connect confidently with people in a way that makes me feel superhuman rather than barely there.”
Hanger, Inc., is a leading provider of orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) patient care, as well as a distributor of O&P services and products. Each Hanger Partner Award winner is carefully selected by members of Hanger’s clinical and operational teams, and the awards recognize exceptional supplier partners for their role in manufacturing products used to deliver orthotic and prosthetic care and empower patients’ lives every day.
The Innovation award recognizes a partner that exhibited expansive thinking in product innovation and technology, resulting in positive clinical outcomes. Open Bionics was chosen to receive the award due to their innovative manufacturing methods and user centric design.