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  • For somebody like me,

  • to be speaking here is truly an honour and a privilege.

  • So, Niki, Katerina - thank you, and thanks to the TEDxAcademy.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • The next few minutes might be slightly different

  • to what you're expecting.

  • I don't have a presentation

  • and I'm not an expert in evolution or technology.

  • I'm Nigel, I'm just an ordinary man with an extraordinary arm.

  • My story starts in September 2006.

  • I'm at work, I'm cleaning out the drum of an industrial blender.

  • The drum starts to spin,

  • I get dragged inside

  • and my arm becomes trapped.

  • The drum stops for a few seconds.

  • And then, like a pendulum,

  • it changes direction.

  • I feel my arm being squeezed, then crushed.

  • And I hear the bones snap before it finally stops.

  • So I wait for help.

  • Thirty minutes later I'm still trapped

  • and I'm getting desperate.

  • The rescue teams, they can't get to me safely.

  • Somebody threw a screwdriver to me.

  • I caught the screwdriver and dug myself free.

  • Once I'd climbed out of the drum, the paramedics took over.

  • A week later, the nurses are removing my bandages,

  • the doctors have come to have a look.

  • My left leg has been cut from my hip to my knee

  • and a large piece of my leg has been cut away

  • and wrapped around my arm.

  • My hand is a mess - there are scars, stitches everywhere,

  • with this big lump of leg wrapped around my forearm.

  • The doctors explain that putting me back together again

  • isn't going to be quick or easy.

  • I face up to 10 years of treatment

  • and there are no guarantees of success.

  • So I turned to the Internet, looking for answers, making notes,

  • trying to find out exactly what I'm facing,

  • how it could affect me and what my options are.

  • Six months later, my arm is still not healing.

  • I take my notes to a surgeon.

  • I ask him to read them as if he was reading about himself,

  • and then explain to me the benefits of keeping my arm.

  • Four days later I became an amputee.

  • Now, during a planned amputation,

  • a surgeon will leave the patient with the longest stump possible.

  • It makes, apparently, prosthetics more comfortable to wear.

  • It's standard procedure.

  • So, following standard procedure, they left me the longest stump possible.

  • To achieve it, they cut through the thickest part of my graft.

  • So instead of my arm tapering, it gets wider.

  • I didn't know it at the time,

  • but the shape of my stump was going to cause me a lot of problems.

  • All I wanted to do was to get my life back.

  • My company said I'd get the best treatment possible.

  • They had good insurance.

  • A bionic arm? No problem.

  • Back to work, simple.

  • No.

  • Some small print in the insurance policy

  • meant that instead of the treatment I was told to expect,

  • I was sent to the NHS.

  • Standard procedureis a three-stage plan

  • and they don't do bionic hands.

  • Stage one, they call it a passive limb.

  • It looks like a hand, it's got no function.

  • Mine didn't fit very well.

  • It was five centimeters longer than my left arm.

  • Six months later I moved on to stage two.

  • Stage two is a body-powered system.

  • (Sighs)

  • Again, mine didn't fit too well.

  • It was uncomfortable to wear and painful to use.

  • It's a hook, developed over 100 years ago.

  • And it's powered by a piece of string and a rubber band.

  • The end of 2008, I'm back in hospital again.

  • Constantly trying to jam my flared stump into a tapered socket

  • has been causing pressure sores, infection and a lot of pain.

  • They amputate again.

  • 2009, well, that starts quietly.

  • I'm finally clear of infection and it's time to start again.

  • Physically, life is a challenge.

  • I used to be the provider for my family.

  • But the strong, fit, active Nigel that I used to see in the mirror -

  • he's disappeared.

  • My left arm is now damaged.

  • My weight, about 120 kilos.

  • I need help just to get dressed.

  • Psychologically, I'm in a dark place.

  • I've moved into my spare room.

  • Nighttimes, they're for the nightmares.

  • I wake up, soaked with sweat or screaming.

  • Daytimes are for the mood swings -

  • the massive highs, the crashing lows,

  • fears, self-doubts,

  • frustration and anger -

  • the sudden, raging anger

  • that I quite often unfairly take out on my wife and my son.

  • I lost my place.

  • (Applause)

  • One second.

  • (Applause)

  • I'm so sorry.

  • Talking about my wife always leaves me speechless.

  • (Laughter)

  • About the - sorry. There we go.

  • (Applause)

  • We'll try and win this one.

  • About this time I also notice a change

  • in other people's attitudes towards me.

  • Strangers often avoid me.

  • Very rarely do people make eye contact or start a conversation.

  • They stop and stare, sometimes with pity, fear, disgust.

  • Some will point and laugh.

  • Some will just yell insults.

  • I stop going out.

  • I become withdrawn.

  • I start shutting myself away from everybody,

  • sometimes for days on end.

  • I'll sit outside, in my garage,

  • just me and my demons.

  • Now 2009, yes, it started quietly,

  • but it ended with a bang.

  • Bang! Heart Attack. Dead. Game Over.

  • Or so I thought.

  • They put six stents into my heart and sent me off to cardio rehab.

  • So two years later,

  • I've been using a myoelectric Greifer.

  • I've been using it for a while and I'm used to it.

  • And I can finally afford to get this socket custom-made.

  • One day I get a call from the prosthetist.

  • He said a company called RSLSteeper,

  • they have a new prosthetic hand, they want someone to test it.

  • He mentioned me,

  • and a short while later, I became the first person in the world

  • to start long-term testing of the bebionic v3.

  • So, here's my arm.

  • And briefly, this is what it does:

  • I have three basic pieces.

  • I have my socket,

  • which is the most important piece.

  • If this isn't comfortable,

  • if you can't wear this all day without pain,

  • it doesn't matter how good this piece is -

  • it will stay in the cupboard, unused.

  • Next, I have the most useful piece; it's my wrist.

  • It allows me not to use my left hand to change the position.

  • It is useful.

  • And then, we have the coolest bit.

  • Now, my socket, like I said, is custom-made.

  • I have two electrodes.

  • One sits against my skin here and one sits against my skin here.

  • And all I need to do is make the muscles contract.

  • So if I imagine I'm opening a can of beer,

  • it opens.

  • If I imagine I'm squeezing a ball,

  • it closes.

  • And if there are any guys out there

  • who can't open a beer and squeeze your balls -

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • maybe this one is not for you.

  • I have eight different grip patterns on this one.

  • So, this is my basic grab. I can change grip.

  • They call this power grip; I call it handshake grip.

  • I can move the thumb. It's two-position and it's manual.

  • It's manual and it knocks about 10,000 pounds off the price.

  • So, that's it.

  • So now, I can read my books.

  • If I want to do anything on the keyboard,

  • I can change the grip.