14-year-old Matthew James was born without a left hand. For most of his life he’s become accustomed to using a standard prosthetic hand, which, with several useless digits and limited mobility became more of a stand-in prop than an actual replacement limb. One day Matthew decided to write a letter to Mercedes GP Petronas boss Ross Brawn asking for £35,000 to pay for a new top of the line limb. In return, he offered to allow the company to sponsor his hand – placing their logo on his prosthetic much like any other sponsorship sticker you might see emblazoned across the sides of an F1 racer.
So touched and impressed by Matthew’s candor and wit, Mercedes decided to not only grant his wish – but do him one better. Teaming with Touch Bionics, Mercedes helped Matthew get fitted with what is known as an i-LIMB Pulse – the most advanced prosthetic limb in the world. And none of it cost Matthew or his family a single dime.
This new hand is so dexterous that Matthew can do things with his left hand that he’s never been able to do his entire life. He can write, draw pictures, tie his own shoelaces and even catch a ball!
The Bluetooth enabled hand is made from high-grade plastic with a black silicone socket, surrounded by a aluminium chassis-style casing capable of supporting a load of up to 90kg (14st). Each finger is powered by an individual engine which receives electronic signals from two electrodes attached to the end of Matthew’s arm, reading muscle movements under his skin.
”I also love sport but anything that involves two hands, like cricket, has always been a struggle but now I can compete with the other lads.” says James. ”It is really amazing technology and I am so grateful to Touch Bionics and Mercedes.”
Ross Brawn, who attended the same school as Matthew, said: ”Matthew’s letter to the team was very touching. ”It was of particular personal significance given my close relationship to Reading School.
”Meeting Matthew, and hearing first-hand how the new device would improve his quality of life, was a pleasure and I am delighted that our initial contact has now led to such a positive conclusion.”
But what about the rest of Matthew’s offer? There’s going to be a tiny Mercedes badge sewn into the sleek black design of the wrist. Matthew got his sponsorship after all.