Broadstairs mum’s appeal to buy ‘life changing’ bionic arm to help retain her independence

Julie says the Hero Arm will giver her independence

A Broadstairs mum of two is appealing for help to buy a ‘bionic’ prosthetic arm so she can keep her independence.

Julie Norwood, 53,  was born with one hand but has always adapted and managed every day tasks, never being held back by the lack of a left hand.

But the Tesco Manston worker is now suffering rheumatoid arthritis in her right hand, most likely due to the additional use to compensate for the lack of the left hand, and that means she is slowly losing the ability to perform many tasks.

Julie says this means having to rely on husband Gary and  children Keiron, 24, and Rhea, 19, to help with things such as cooking or tucking in clothes.

Julie and her children Keiron and Rhea

She said: “My right hand is very swollen. Gary now does the cooking as I can’t grip the knife properly or, if Gary is on lates, the kids do tea for me as I find it difficult to lift the saucepan.

“People have said to me I am disabled. I am not disabled, I am perfectly imperfect. I never had a left hand so I don’t miss it and learned how to use it in different ways.

“The only thing I have never been able to do is knit and that’s no great loss.

“What I am missing is being able to use my right hand and I want to get my independence back.”

Julie and husband Gary

The NHS does provide basic prosthetic arms but this only performs a grip function and there is no guarantee Julie could keep it.

The Hero Arm made by Open Bionics is worked by the muscles triggering sensors with multi- grip functions, freeze mode and posable thumb and wrist. The limb is also made of Nylon 12, meaning it is tough but light, and it is created through taking a 3D scan of the limb to make sure it is a perfect fit.

Julie said: “The sensors are built into the arm to work the hand and it is triggered by muscles in the arm.

“In the video the guy is helping me learn how to operate it. They also ask customers to download an app called Sidekick which helps you learn how to control the hand and what it can do, like pincer gripping. Last week I learnt how to make rude finger signs!

“Now I have to strengthen the muscles in that arm as they aren’t as strong as in the other arm that gets used more.”

The ‘bionic’ arm comes at a cost of £20,000. Julie said: “If I lived in Scotland they (NHS) would fund it but here they don’t.”

Julie will have a cast taken of her arm towards the end of this month or the beginning of June and once the funds are raised the Hero Arm will be 3D made.

The arm would mean Julie can once again walk her two dogs, play on the Switch, cook, pick things up and manage smaller tasks such as doing up her bra and using her insulin.

Julie said: “The arm is brilliant and it would change my life immensely and stop me from losing my independence.

“It means I could hold my kids hands, I know I wouldn’t be able to feel it with the arm but I would be able to do it.”

Julie, who hopes she can get a Wolverine design on the arm, says it would be ‘life changing.’

Find Julie’s fundraising page here