Heroic Sheffield teacher creates Iron Man-style ‘bionic arm’ for pupil born without forearm

The mother of a Sheffield boy, 12, who was born with one arm has said he “can now do what other kids can do” after a teacher at his school volunteered to make him a special prosthetic limb.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 3:34 pm

Nicki McCaslin, of Oughtibridge, said her Lewis son had been born without a left forearm and was given a prosthetic arm by the NHS.

However, he never used the NHS arm because it was too heavy. Noticing this, Daniel Grant, a teacher in the Design Technology department at Bradfield School, offered to build Lewis a special, lighter ‘bionic arm’ instead.

“He loves it,” Nicki said. “It will help him do everything that other kids are able to do.

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Teacher Dan Grant with Lewis and the 'bionic arm'.

"They have made it look like Iron Man’s arm, which he loves. We have to sort out a few bits and put some padding in it, but he’s so excited.

"He will be able to cook and he will be able to ride his bike. He recently had a bad accident on his bike because he had to lean right over the handle bars, and now he doesn’t have to do that.

"Until now Lewis always had to manage without a left forearm."

Teacher Dan Grant with Lewis and the bionic arm.

The new arm was made using a 3D printer in the school’s DT department, and attaches at Lewis’ left elbow.

Mr Grant researched the prosthetic and measured Lewis’ right arm, and sent the measurements off to an engineer in Wales at a charity called Team UnLimbited.

They took the measurements and sent back the files for making the arm with a 3D printer, which Mr Grant then printed out and built.

And while it took Mr Grant a long time to make the arm, it only cost about £30 in parts.

Mr Grant said: “I wanted to do this because I thought it could be a really positive part of what had been a pretty rubbish year.

"I thought this was an incredible opportunity to use the equipment we have here in school. It feels great to have been able to bless Lewis with this arm.”

He explained: “It uses a reasonably complex mechanism that relies on the elbow joint and small amount of forearm on Lewis left side.

"When Lewis raises his arm the fist closes, and Lewis is pretty capable at manouvering it so he can pick things up.”

Lewis’ mum Nicki said: “I am just so grateful. There are not many people that go out of their way to give people a chance and they have given Lewis the chance to do things he has never been able to do before.

"Lewis is an amazing little boy. He has ADHD and Tourettes as well and I think this has given him a real boost.”

And Adrian May, headteacher at Bradfield, praised Mr Grant going out of his way to help Lewis.

He said: "It’s an amazing piece of work. It can bend and it can grip. The prosthetic he had but it was fixed and didn’t do anything.

"Lewis completely deserves it. He’s a lovely boy.

“It’s amazing what some of the teachers here can do.”