Little Izaak Harson has been given a chance to try out some groundbreaking technology that could change his life.
The six-year-old - who was born without his right hand – visited Musgrave Park Hospital in south Belfast for an open day which showcased the many services on offer for patients who have lost limbs.
The Ballyclare schoolboy was offered a unique opportunity to try out one of the bionic hands that he may one day use to carry out day-to-day activities most of us take for granted.
His mum, Victoria, 38, explained: “Izaak was born with upper limb deficiency.
“The doctors don’t really know what caused it, there are a few different theories but nothing conclusive.
“He’s never really let it hold him back.”
Victoria said they had no idea Izaak would be born without his hand, as nothing was picked up in scans.
But even when she discovered her son’s disability, Victoria refused to think the worst.
“At the start they thought it was maybe part of a bigger issue so he had to have all sorts of tests done, on his heart and things like that, to make sure there was nothing else wrong,” she said.
“To be honest, it didn’t really worry me too much. We would be Christian people and we haven’t been as affected as some other people because some parents nearly go through a stage of mourning.
“I’m not saying what’s right or wrong, but we just didn’t have that experience.
“At the moment, he uses a myoelectric hand which he has to help him grasp things.
“We got it through the service at Musgrave Park, they’re really fantastic.
“He sees the consultant a couple of times a year and they always say that if there is anything he wants to do then we’re to speak to them and they will see what they can do.
“He wanted to learn to ride a tricycle but couldn’t hold the handlebar, so they made him a piece of equipment so he was able to do that.
“They made his myoelectric hand blue because that’s his favourite colour.
“There’s so many things they can do now, for example if you want to play snooker there are special adaptations for that and if you want to play golf, they have adaptations for that too.”
In addition to regular appointments with his consultant, Izaak also attends Musgrave Park to ensure his prosthetic arm fits properly.
He also sees the occupational therapist frequently.
“He is young so he’s constantly growing so he needs to go up to have it adjusted quite a bit,” continued Victoria.
“The occupational therapists are great as well.
“Silly little things that you don’t really think about, like tying a shoe lace, getting dressed, how to do up a zip, we go along and the therapist will show us how to do it.
“The occupational therapist goes out to his school and shows Izaak’s assistant how to help him as well, for example, with little exercises he should do throughout the day.
“Izaak gets involved in a lot of things, he has started judo and we were worried he would have problems but apparently he is doing very well.
“I really think the service at Musgrave is brilliant, they offer support and if we need anything they are there.”
Izaak is one of thousands of patients who rely on Northern Ireland’s disablement service to lead a normal life after the trauma of losing a limb.
Between 150 and 160 new patients are referred each year to the service at Musgrave Park.
It helps more than 2,000 people in total and they range from those who are born with a missing limb, such as Izaak, to cancer patients or people who have lost a limb as a result of an accident.
A prosthetic open day was held recently at Musgrave Park Hospital to display the many different ways patients benefit from care by the team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and occupational therapists who work there.
Visitors were offered the opportunity to try riding a bike with an artificial leg, bowling with an artificial hand and using gym equipment with a prosthesis.
Geraldine Laughlin, service manager, explained: “The service is so important because whether a person loses a limb as a result of an accident or a medical condition, it results in a significant change in life.
“We don’t just include the physical side of things, we also help the patients come to term with the mental and emotional aspect as well.
“We have a multi disciplinary team who work together to establish what each patient hopes to achieve, because everyone has different expectations.”
To find out more about the regional limb fitting service, log on to belfasttrust.hscni.net/RegionalLimbFittingService.html