22yo London lad James Young was out with a group of mates waiting for a train when he lost balance and fell between the carriages of a train as it was pulling into the station.
The resulting substantial injuries – a severed left leg below the knee, a badly mangled left arm, along with collapsed lungs, a fractured skull, and cracks along his spine. saw him in an induced coma for 12 days while surgeons operated on him.
Surgeons tried unsuccessfully to save his left arm by removing the dead and infected tissue, but in the end the arm couldn’t be saved.
Move ahead 4 years, Young has been outfitted with a futuristic limb inspired by his love of video games, and designed by prosthetics artist Sophie De Oliveira Barata, founder of the Alternative Limb Project.
Heavily influenced by the Metal Gear Solid game franchise, the high-tech limb uses electronic sensors to detect movements in Young’s shoulder muscles, giving him full control over the battery-powered hand and arm.
The engineers behind the arm didn’t stop there, however. They’ve also added a few bonus features to take it beyond the functionality of a normal limb.
The arm features an added laser light, a built-in flashlight to help him navigate in the dark, a USB port to charge his phone, and it can even be equipped with a small drone that is stored in the shoulder.
The arm does still have its downsides – it’s not waterproof meaning it has to be taken off for showering or swimming, at almost 5kg (10 lbs), it’s a bit of a heft to carry round all day, and being a prototype means there is still a fair bit of fine-tuning to be done.
His leg prosthetic still causes some pain when used for long periods, so he’s mostly in a wheelchair for the moment, but one day he hopes to have a matching futuristic leg, once titanium implants in the stump of his leg strengthen and yield better weight support.