The limb different community can sometimes unfortunately face roadblocks set forth by insurance companies for access to the tools they deserve to live adaptive lives. It is not uncommon for those seeking a bionic prosthesis to have to prove it is medically necessary, trial a less advanced prosthesis first, or encounter other negative reasons as to why their access to life changing technology is being gate-kept.

         Such was the case recently for North Carolina resident and amputee Benjamin Nunn, who endured a challenge with his insurance company for an Open Bionics Hero Arm, a multi-grip myoelectic bionic prosthesis. After an initial denial, Ben worked closely with his clinicians at Limbionics to appeal the denial. Thankfully, Ben won his appeal and was just fit with his brand-new Hero Arm! While insurance denials can happen, it’s success stories like Ben’s that motivates us to continue the work of assisting potential Hero Arm candidates when and where we can. Open Bionics took time to chat with Ben about his experience and what he’s been using his new Hero Arm for so far.

Q: Can you please introduce yourself so our readers can get to know you?

A: I’m Ben, I’m from North Carolina. I’m married, I have two kids who now have kids of their own! I was a career biomedical technician, so I worked on medical equipment from 1982 through to about 2022.

Q: Can you share how you became limb different and how that changed things for you?

A: During that time, I had a problem with giant cell tumours. It kept occurring just in my right hand – each time worse and bigger. At the time of the first amputation, they had removed two fingers. It came back again on my wrist, and it came back big and quick. After a discussion, we decided on a full amputation. This was in February of 2023.

Q: What did your recovery look like after the amputation?

A: I let it heal up, went through the process of looking around, and being a bio med tech, I was already really interested in cutting edge technology. When I came across the Hero Arm, I was impressed at it being 3D printed and custom fit for me. I found out about the carbon fiber wires that are used in the fingers and was impressed by that.

Q: And how did your clinical journey begin to get the Hero Arm, we understand you had some hiccups with insurance along the way?

A: Yes – it was a bit of a struggle. We started in June of 2023, and I was told at that time that I was approved and that everything was great. When I went in for my fitting, I was then told “We’re sorry, you’re not approved.” After a lengthy process, I finally appealed that decision myself and found out that the clinic I was working with at the time wasn’t certified on providing DME (durable medical equipment), which is what the insurance fixated on.

Q: What did you do from there?

A: Through my own research, I found Limbionics and started working with them. Again, our first attempt to get it approved didn’t work – it was deemed ‘not medically necessary.’ The second time, I had my local physician write a recommendation for me. Finally, it went through and I was approved and the appeal let go. I also found out that BCBS paid my claims.

Q: That is so relieving to hear. We are so glad you finally got your approval! How was the fitting process with Limbionics?

A: The placement is perfect. My prosthetist Zoe did an amazing job getting the sensors just in the right spot. Once I get things going with practice it just works so well. It gives me the ability to do all the finger grips, I’m getting really good at it. This is my arm now, and I’ve been having a blast.

Q: What are your thoughts now that you finally have it and have been incorporating it into your daily routine?

A: I still go to the hospital to deal with a few minor tumours, but all the staff there are amazed by it. I wore it there for my last appointment and the entire phlebotomy staff wanted to see it and touch it. My grandkids love it too, my grandson keeps giving me high fives. Everywhere I go, even into the local grocery store, I’m telling people “Check this out”, and people are like “WOW!”

Q: What are you finding that you like best about it so far?

A: I’ve been finding that I can pick up smaller objects, and from a practical standpoint I can pick up water bottles and hold them while I twist them open, which was next to impossible before. Carrying grocery bags, holding my toothbrush to put toothpaste on it.

Q: What else do you love about your new Hero Arm so far?

A: It just molds together so beautifully. It’s really a work of art. Especially the vortex cover pattern, I really love it. Sometimes I catch it in the mirror and I say “Wow, that looks really cool!”

Open Bionics is proud to provide more and more people in the limb different community the tools they want to live adaptive lives. We are pleased that Ben was able to not back down from his unfortunate insurance experience and ultimately gain approval for the device that he wanted. It’s high time that more insurance companies listened to the actual users and became their allies rather than a hurdle in the path of their bionic journey. We can’t wait to keep up with Ben and see just what he uses his Hero Arm for next.

If you’re interested in a Hero Arm of your very own, please fill out the form linked here and we will not only be in touch with you, but also your advocate and ally along the way. To help ease your concerns about our relationships with insurance, Open Bionics has had success with Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare, Cigna, Medicaid & Medicare, and Humana, among others. 

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The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements. Each Hero Arm is custom-built for optimal comfort, and fits like a glove.

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This month, we met Mona S. from a small town in Germany. When it comes to prosthetic solutions, she has always chosen function over form. 

“I have various other prosthetic hands that have several gripping functions, but they haven’t proven themselves, they broke under the strain of working in a stable.” commented Mona when we asked why she chose the Hero Arm. 

Mona was born with a limb difference, but she hasn’t let that stop her from doing things she loves. From outdoor sports to yoga, Mona has never let her difference stop her, saying “the only time I felt disabled in my life was when I got my driving licence and my horse riding licence. Because people in society said: no, you need two hands for that…and I thought to myself: What can I do about it, that you need two hands to drive a car, I can do it with one.”

Wasting no time in putting her Hero Arm to the test, Mona spent the day she was fitted completing activities integral to her daily routine. From feeding a horse an apple, to gathering straw, and even pushing a wheelbarrow, her Hero Arm was on duty. 

Mona described her initial impression of the Hero Arm as “exciting” and “groovy,” noting its modern design and distinctiveness from previous devices she has used. 

She told us that her friends and family are all very excited about her Hero Arm as well, and as for the future, she remains practical yet optimistic. Mona’s wish is for the Hero Arm to support her in continuing her passions without limitations!

At Open Bionics, we use innovative technologies such as 3D printing and 3D scanning to ensure each Hero Arm is custom-built and bespoke to the user.

If you’d like to trial the Hero Arm for free, click on the link below to register your interest and begin your bionic journey.

Try a Hero Arm for Free

The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements. Each Hero Arm is custom-built for optimal comfort, and fits like a glove.

Register For A Hero Arm

Our new Open Bionics clinic in Orlando Florida has been hard at work hitting the ground running since its doors opened in October. Our CPO Emily Shannon has been excited to bring Hero Arms to new and returning amputees, and such is the case with Samuel, a Hero Arm user who came in recently for a brand-new refit to his existing Hero Arm. We had the opportunity to chat with him about his experience during his clinic visit! 

Q: Welcome Samuel, please tell us about yourself!

A: Hi! I’m currently 13 years old and live in Oviedo, Florida, outside Orlando. I was born with a limb difference – left partial hand! I’m currently homeschooled in 8th grade but will be able to graduate early. I had some issues with public school due to bullying because of my limb difference, so I switched to homeschool in 2022. 

Q: Can you share with us your experience with limb difference and what you can do like anyone else?

A: I can do most things with one hand without a prosthesis, however my confidence and independence are the biggest benefits I’ve experienced since having the Hero Arm. 

Q: Speaking of the Hero Arm, this isn’t your first time getting one. Can you talk with us about how you first found out about it and what that experience was like? 

A: We (mom and I) found out about Open Bionics in 2021, we met Leona at an event and requested information. From there we were connected with Sarah for funding support. A donor came forward, Alita Angel Superfans, to cover the cost of my Hero Arm plus travel expenses to the Denver clinic! We enjoyed flying out to Colorado for the evaluation and test fittings, and we loved the hotel stay! That delivery was at a conference in Clearwater Florida in April 2022, and we were so excited because we joined a video call with Tilly Lockey! 

Q: That’s amazing! And since then, you’ve outgrown that socket and just received your brand-new Hero Arm, how was the new process for you in Orlando?

A: When I outgrew my first Hero Arm, I was so excited to hear about the new Orlando clinic and the scheduling and travel was a lot easier, and Emily is super awesome! 

Q: We are happy to hear that the new experience and clinic worked so well for you! What have you been using your new Hero Arm for?

A: My mom jokingly shared that she wants me to start helping around the house with cleaning, cooking, helping my sisters. I also use it for eating and cutting food (I love pancakes), playing video games, riding my bike, and I like that it gets people’s attention and people will come up to me and ask about it! 

We are so excited to continue watching Samuel’s Hero Arm journey and see what he uses it for next in his life. If you are interested in trialing a Hero Arm at our Orlando clinic with Emily, click HERE to register your interest!

Do you know anyone who would love a Hero Arm but doesn’t know how to secure funds? Register and speak to our funding success team today.

Try a Hero Arm for Free

The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements. Each Hero Arm is custom-built for optimal comfort, and fits like a glove.

Register For A Hero Arm

So, you’re about to enter the exciting journey of launching a crowdfunding campaign for your Hero Arm? This can be an exhilarating time in your bionic journey. Of course, you may be feeling nervous, overwhelmed, and curious as to if your efforts to achieve your goal will prove fruitful. Not to worry, within this blog, I (as someone who has gone through the process) will share important steps and tips for managing a successful crowdfunding campaign; one that will have you heading to an Open Bionics clinic for your Hero Arm unboxing in no-time! 

First, I’d like to address the elephant in the room and express my belief that crowdfunding for a prosthesis is an avenue that the limb different community should not have to take. Crowdfunding and GoFundMe are not healthcare. We face an uphill battle in making prosthetic devices accessible for those who want them through the healthcare system. When insurance denials occur, it’s extremely discouraging and rightfully so. Appealing an insurance denial can be even more stressful and time consuming. Luckily, the route of crowdfunding is an option for those who wish to explore it, but we should never accept it as the only avenue. 

I am a congenital amputee and attempted to get my first Hero Arm by Open Bionics in early 2020 through my insurance at the time. After multiple conversations that led nowhere, conflicting information, and ultimately denial, I was faced with a monumental decision: do I give up the fight for a device designed to make my life more accommodating or do I push on?

Context: I was not the type of person to ask for help. I had a bad habit of suffering in silence. I carried this mentality with me for a while after my insurance denial. It wasn’t until late summer of that year did I receive the motivation I needed to launch my Hero Arm GoFundMe campaign. My stepmother told me to never underestimate someone’s desire to help. With that, I set out to get my Hero Arm. 

First, I connected with a funding success manager, Sarah, at Open Bionics who guided me through every step. From creating a video of myself explaining why I wanted a Hero Arm and what I would use it for.

Here are the things I did that resulted in my funding goal being met in under 60 days:

I absolutely credit the amount received in the opening hours to priming my audience as opposed to randomly dropping the campaign link without notification. This is a sure way for campaigns to go unnoticed, or to generate too little attention in the crucial beginnings. I branched out the reach as well, using both my Twitter account and LinkedIn to also share what I was posting in the Facebook group. Each week, I shared a heartwarming story, fun fact, call to action, and even hardship on each platform with the donation link. I encourage those who may be shy in their crowdfunding endeavors to not be afraid to pull the heartstrings. Be raw and real. Show people what you face and how a Hero Arm will make your life better. 

As an amputee, it’s not easy to share aspects of our lives online. It’s an invasion of privacy and can elicit unwanted comments or feelings that can be emotionally overwhelming. I completely empathize with this. However, we cannot be afraid to show people what we go through if we want their support.. We must be willing to give them a peek into our  world, a world that opens them up to empathy and a motivation to give. Show them the difficult tasks you face without a prosthesis. Show them how your current prosthesis gives you a rash or blisters. Show them how the Hero Arm could make these situations better. 

At the beginning of each week, I shared updates across all social platforms on the donation total thus far and number of shares. I also included a call to action such as “Can we make it to X shares and X amount of money by the end of this week?” This proved to also keep my audience engaged and excited to see the numbers rise, with some sharing multiple times and even donating multiple times. 

I took the campaign further and reached out to members of my community as well. I contacted my local newspapers, my college, my high school board of education, local churches, clubs, any organization that popped into my head that I thought may help, I contacted. The very least they could say was no. I printed flyers and posted them at businesses with their permission. I even sent a private email to my former Dean of University, a woman I knew had multiple connections in high places. Through her assistance, I was fortunate to generate another $8,000. My point here is: do not be afraid to reach out to someone. If their name pops into your head even slightly, contact them.

In the end, I was able to begin my fitting journey for the Hero Arm by reaching my crowdfunding goal in a month and a half! Through the campaign video showing me and my needs, priming my audience, creating a community where all info and updates could be shared, sharing consistently, keeping the audience engaged, and stepping out of my comfort zone, I was able to do what I thought would be impossible in the beginning. The largest bit of advice would be to never give up. Keep at it. Take mental breaks, but always return to rejuvenate your campaign. If I could breathe life into every dormant Hero Arm GoFundMe, I would do so in a heartbeat. 

Do you know anyone who would love a Hero Arm but doesn’t know how to secure funds? Register and speak to our funding success team today.

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Recently, Christa Seubert from Würzburg, Germany was fitted with a bionic hand after tragically losing her arm below the elbow 11 months ago to cancer.

The 84-year-old first thought she had a blocked carpal tunnel, “I had two operations on my hand. As a result, the entire hand became inflamed. And suddenly, overnight, a lump appeared between my thumb and index finger on my right hand.” It quickly became apparent that Christa had an aggressive cancer. After chemotherapy failed, an arm amputation to save her life became unavoidable. 

Christa is very active and enjoys a variety of hobbies, from cycling, gardening, handicrafts to walking her dog Charly. After the amputation, Christa struggled to get back to doing everyday activities independently,  “Simple daily activities have been challenging, even cutting a loaf of bread and buttering it on my own is difficult.” commented Christa. 

To be able to enjoy everyday life, Christa wanted a prosthesis that wouldn’t weigh her down. Mathias Stegemann, CPO at APT Prothesen in Würzburg, who fitted Christa commented “For Christa, being fitted with a Hero Arm has big advantages. It’s the ease of use, the very low weight compared to other prosthetic fittings, and the ease of putting on and taking off that I think will allow her to enjoy her independence.”

Within an hour of being fitted, Christa was able to use her new bionic arm to take her dog for a walk and enjoy a hot chocolate along the bank of River Main.  

The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted to intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements.

At Open Bionics, we are on a mission to support individuals like Christa turn their disabilities into superpowers. We use innovative technologies such as 3D printing and 3D scanning to ensure each Hero Arm is custom-built and bespoke to the user. 

Register your interest for the Hero Arm

The Hero Arm uses myoelectric sensors which detect underlying muscular contractions generated from specific muscle groups in the arm. These are then amplified and converted into intuitive and proportional bionic hand movements. Each Hero Arm is custom-built for optimal comfort, and fits like a glove. 

Register For A Hero Arm

I recently had the privilege of volunteering at a unique event in Clearwater, Florida known as Pirate Camp, an outdoors camp designed for children with limb differences and their families. Created by the Never Say Never Foundation, the camp was filled with activities that ranged from sailing and fishing to arts and crafts, an obstacle course, and a host of other engaging outdoor events.

As one of the volunteers enlisted to run the arts & crafts section, I found it incredibly rewarding to assist and participate in the various creative activities. These sessions weren’t just about making things; they were about showing the kids what they could do and helping them see that their potential is limitless. The creativity on display was inspiring, and the kids tackled each project with enthusiasm.

One of the highlights of the camp was the Pirate Dance, where everyone donned their best pirate outfits and partied the night away. After seeing their creativity during arts and crafts, I couldn’t wait to see the campers’ costumes! Open Bionics volunteers for  Pirate Camp annually, so I was warned that I would need to go above and beyond, and put my cosplay skills to the test. Naturally, I took that as a challenge, 3D modelling a pirate hook and 3D printing a golden arm cover for my Hero Arm!

The campers absolutely loved my Hero Arm’s flexibility in allowing me to design and create my own crazy arm covers, and the possibility of doing the same to their own Hero Arm. For more info on how I transform my Hero Arm as a means of self-expression and creativity, check out this recent blog post!

From my perspective, my Hero Arm was not only a tool that helped me to take part in crafts (check out my awesome bracelet making skills) it also became about having fun with your limb difference by owning it and personalizing it for Pirate Night. 

The pirate dance was a fun, energetic event that brought laughter and joy to the campers, their families, and the volunteers. Moreover, the Never Say Never Foundation arranged for several campers to receive sponsored prosthetic devices. Witnessing the children receive these life-changing gifts was profoundly moving, and it underscored the camp’s commitment to making a real difference in the lives of the campers.

The experience at Pirate Camp went beyond just entertainment; it was a supportive space where children and families could connect with others who understand the challenges and triumphs associated with limb differences. The atmosphere was one of acceptance and mutual support, which is crucial for building confidence and a sense of community.

As the weekend concluded, it was clear that the event wasn’t just about having fun—it was about empowerment. The campers left with new friendships, a greater sense of what they could achieve, and, for some, new prosthetic devices that would assist them in their daily lives.

My takeaway from Pirate Camp was invaluable: a reminder of the importance of inclusion, support, and the difference that thoughtful technology can make. It’s a weekend that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact, both for myself and for all the young pirates who attended.

Want to try the Hero Arm for free?

If you have a below-elbow or partial hand limb difference, register to find out more about the Hero Arm and try the technology for free at your local Open Bionics clinic.

Register For A Hero Arm