A seven-year-old girl can finally brush her hair after becoming the youngest in the UK to receive a bionic ‘hero’ arm.
Caitlin Hutson was born with only one fully formed hand due to a rare congenital condition.
His underdeveloped left arm has five shortened fingers at the end but no bones.
During her early childhood, Caitlin had difficulty holding the silverware and dinner tray at school.
Her mother, Maria Hutson, 42, said that until this year, Caitlin had carried on with a smile on her face, but a recent community fundraising effort changed her life.
7-year-old Caitlin is already enjoying her newfound abilities, from eating ice cream to high-fiving friends when she goes back to school.
She was set up £18,000 for a bionic arm last week, and Maria said her daughter is already brimming with newfound confidence.
Caitlin is already enjoying her new abilities, like eating ice cream, and is looking forward to high fives with her friends.
Maria, from Wymondham, Norfolk, said: ‘In the space of 24 hours her confidence has gone up a lot.
‘Caitlin struts around the garden and dances in it; as a mother, it’s lovely to watch. We are so thankful for everyone who made this dream come true.”
In 2016, Caitlin was born with only one fully formed hand due to a rare congenital condition. Her underdeveloped left arm has five shortened fingers at the end but no bones, making basic tasks incredibly difficult for the young woman.
Caitlin was born with an exceptionally rare condition called symbrachydactyly, which affects only one in 32,000 births.
The congenital disorder of the hand usually causes short fingers that are sometimes webbed and fused together.
In the most severe cases, all of the fingers may be missing and replaced by small “bumps” of skin, according to the children’s charity Reach.
This has made it difficult for Caitlin to do everyday tasks like brushing her hair.
But Maria, along with Caitlin’s father Terry, 45, came up with a high-tech, but very expensive solution: a bionic arm.
They joined a waiting list for a “hero” bionic arm for Caitlin, and in December last year they were invited to Open Bionics in Bristol for an appointment.
Caitlin Hutson is pictured with her parents Maria, 42, and Terry, 45, and brother Benjamin, 5, at their home in Norfolk.
The company creates low-cost 3D-printed bionic arms for amputees that are fully functional and allow people to grab, pinch and high-five.
Maria, a swimming teacher, said: “Last year we put his name up and, to our surprise, things moved quite quickly.
But a ‘hero’ bionic arm costs over £13,000 and even more to fit, so Caitlin’s parents started a GoFundMe.
Maria added: ‘This year, we’ve had numerous bake sales and a superhero day at Caitlin’s school, and businesses and individuals have shown their support.
“We are totally overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the people.”
In total, Caitlin’s family raised £18.5k, which was enough to outfit the ‘hero’s’ bionic arm with an extended warranty.
The “hero’s” bionic arm is fully functional and allows people to grab, pinch, and high-five. Caitlin can even brush her hair with it.
In total, Caitlin’s family raised £18.5k, which was enough to equip the arm with an extended warranty.
This means that it can be replaced as she continues to grow, since the arm will be covered for the next five years.
Since taking the test, Caitlin has quickly grown accustomed to the feel of technology and loves life with her new “hero arm.”
Caitlin said: ‘Life is good with my new arm. Eating is easy and I love being able to brush my hair.
“I’m excited to go back to school, I think my friends will congratulate me a lot.”
Maria said that they are very proud of Caitlin and said that she is an example of how disabilities do not hold people back.
“The little things that people like you and me don’t even think about are very important to her,” he said.
‘For the first time, she can use cutlery without any problems and brush her hair like any other seven-year-old.
‘Watching her eat an ice cream is a pleasure because until now she has always made a good mess.
“It has given her the independence she needs for her later life, which in turn has made her trust in the world of good.”
“She’ll also show others that disabilities don’t always have to hold you back and that she can do everything everyone else can and more.”
Bionic arms are normally only available to children eight years of age or older, but Caitlin was eligible for her first hand at age six.
Seven-year-old Louie Morgan-Kemp, from Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, was also recently given an Ironman-themed ‘hero’ arm.
Sammy Payne, co-founder of Open Bionics, said: ‘Caitlin will be our youngest user to date.
‘Kids use their Hero Arms to ride their bikes, make breakfast, carry their backpacks to school, and generally perform two-handed tasks.
‘Kids love the Hero Arm because they can change their sleeves and change the look of their bionic arm.
‘One day they can wear their favorite color, the next day they can change it up and be Iron Man. Their bionic arm is completely unique, just like them.’