A teenage Formula One fan has been fitted with a souped-up artificial hand after he offered to sell advertising space to Mercedes – on his prosthetic LIMB.
Brave Matthew James, 14, who was born without his left hand, sent a cheeky letter to Ross Brawn, boss of F1 team Mercedes GP Petronas, asking for £35,000 to pay for a top-of-the range artificial limb. In return, shrewd Matthew said he would allow the company to sponsor the hand by putting the Mercedes logo on it – like ads seen on F1 cars.
But Mercedes where so touched by Matthew’s ‘intelligent and moving letter’ they agreed to help him and teamed up with firm Touch Bionics, who create and fit hi-tech artificial limbs. Together they designed his own customised i-LIMB Pulse – the most advanced prosthetic limb in the world.
The hand is so versatile Matthew can grip a pen to draw pictures and write, tie his shoe laces and catch a ball. The hand, made from high-grade plastic with a black silicone socket, literally plugs into Matthew’s arm.Two electrodes on the inside of the socket detect electrical impulses made by the muscles in Matthew’s lower arm. The signals are then beamed to a mini-computer in the palm which translates the messages into movements, replicating a normal hand.
After receiving the letter in June, Mercedes invited Matthew to their headquarters, where he toured the factory and met racing legend Michael Schumacher.
The company said they were unable to pay for the hand but agreed to help Matthew raise the money, by asking fans and sponsors to make donations. Touch Bionics also agreed to fit the hand and train Matthew at their state of the art facilities for free, which would have otherwise cost £25,000.