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Inspired by Disney Princess Elsa, Pakistani Girl Gets “Magical” Blue Prosthetic Arm
KARACHI: Momina Aamir’s father, three, was overcome with emotion in August when his daughter, who was born without a right arm, asked her father if she could borrow his hand so that she could bow down correctly while performing the Muslim prayer ritual.
After that moment, Aamir Abbas said he was more determined than ever to find a solution, which turned out to be a blue multi-grip bionic arm customized to the exact wishes of Momina, a big fan of Princess Elsa in the film. from Walt Disney’s animation, “Frozen.”
“I had just finished praying when Momina came to me and said, ‘Baba, give me your hand so that I can pray like you too,'” Abbas told Arab News. âIt’s hard for me to express my feelings in words. I had never felt or made to feel that he was missing something. But it made me think and seek solutions.
According to the World Health Organization, around 30 million people worldwide need prostheses, but less than 20% have them and they tend to be expensive and heavy, with little or no movement. According to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi, one in 20 children in Pakistan is born with some kind of hand defect.
But with the help of Karachi-based startup BIONIKS, which provides orthotics and prosthetics services, Abbas was able to make his daughter’s dream come true.
Earlier this year, the company set a world record by equipping four-year-old Muhammad Sideeq with a multi-grip bionic arm. The story was covered by Arab News, and Abbas said the media coverage was instrumental in connecting the family to BIONIKS.
âThis story gave me hope and made me visit BIONIKS,â said Saadia Aamir, Momina’s mother.
After receiving her new arm last week, Momina, at three years and four months, is the youngest recipient to have an advanced prosthetic limb.
Some treatment options for children born with deformities of the hand or arm – depending on the nature and severity of the problem – include limb manipulation and stretching, tendon transfer, fixation of limbs a splint for stretching the finger to its original position or repairing constrictions in muscles, ligaments, and skin.
In some cases, skin grafts can be used to treat the deformity. Surgery is also sometimes done to cure the condition.
Unfortunately, not all children are able to get the right treatment in Pakistan due to lack of expertise as well as the high cost of the procedures.
And although Momina is one of a handful of lucky children, it was not easy to conceive the required limb for her due to her age and birth condition, as the design is equipped with sensors that allow users move the prosthetic limbs while remembering to make the movements.
“It was much more difficult to fit all the things in her case since she never had a hand,” Ovais Hussain Qureshi, co-founder of BIONIKS told Arab News. “She hadn’t experienced those senses in her mind that allow us to use our right hand.”
For example, he said, when Momina was first asked to close the fingers of her right hand, she would move the entire artificial arm.
But the girl was smart, and the team had no trouble communicating with her and quickly taught her how to use the member.
âShe is very friendly and chatty,â Qureshi said with a smile. âShe would walk around freely in our office, visit the research and development room, sit with our designers and talk to them, ‘I don’t like this or that part. Can you make the shade of blue a little lighter? How about adding diamonds or crystals to the arm? “
âIt won’t be wrong to say,â Qureshi said, âthat she has a really personalized arm. In fact, she almost did it herself!
Momina’s mother said her daughter decided she wanted a blue arm because of Princess Elsa in “Frozen.”
âThe day she got her arm, we left our house late at night and she slept in the car,â she said. âAs I took her arm away, she woke up and asked me not to. When she fell sound asleep I took her off and was surprised to see her restlessness in the morning. She was looking forward to the arm but was happy when I brought it back.
Momina’s mother said her daughter was so deeply attached to her ‘magic’ arm that she was shocked when she was brought back to the office for minor changes and adjustments.
Her parents said most people wanted their children to have prosthetic limbs that were the color of the skin, but they decided to let their daughter have the arm she really wanted.
âShe’s happy with the color,â her mother said. “Sometimes she even laughs at our ordinary arms and says she has a nicer one!” We want her to grow up with it.