Updated: Feb 4
Creative. Artistic. Energetic.
Budding artist Harriett is 4 years old and lives with her mum, dad and little sister in Elsmere Port, Cheshire. Missing her left hand and part of her forearm, Harriett was one of the first children to receive a Koalaa soft prosthetic through #ProjectLimitless.
We spoke to dad Liam, to find out more.
Finding out about Harriett’s limb difference
Harriett is a little whirlwind. She’s always running around and dancing and doesn’t stop talking! She’s also very into her art and drawing.
We first found out about Harriett’s limb difference when she was born. Up to that point, we’d had all the scans and everything had appeared normal, so it was a massive shock.
The night she was born, while Lauren and Harriett were in the hospital, I started looking online to find out more. My mind was already thinking about the future and what it might mean.
That night I found a charity called Reach and we joined up to become members. From doing further research I also came across a charity called Limbo, who have been really good too. They were the ones who first told us about Koalaa and #ProjectLimitless.
Experience with prosthetics
Despite Harriett being so young, we had already had a few experiences with different prosthetics before getting the prosthetic from Koalaa.
When Harriett was very little, we went to a limb centre and they advised us to have a non-operational prosthetic, which was basically like a dolls arm and didn’t have any functionality.
Limbo also made us a 3D printed prosthetic, which she used until she’d outgrown it.
Expectations of Koalaa and Mitt
We knew a little bit about Koalaa's prosthetic arms from talking to people and when Harriett’s arrived, we could instantly see its potential.
A big thing about the prosthetic for us, is that Harriett can just get on with it. She can put it on and off, tighten it and change the attachments all by herself. She was so excited about that!
It’s also made of fabric rather than plastic or rubber, meaning she can use it for longer and it doesn’t cause her any discomfort or pain.
The first thing Harriett did with her Mitt
When we told her it was coming, she was really excited. Then when it arrived, the first thing she did was to colour it in with the washable felt tips pens. After that, for the next two days, she didn’t take it off! (except when she went to bed).
She shows it off to everyone and was especially excited to show her grandparents how she could do it all herself.
When Harriett first started at school, she surprised us by getting up in front of the whole class and telling everybody about her little arm. When she got her prosthetic from Koalaa, she got up there again to tell them all about that too! She now takes it in to school with her most days, so she has it if she feels she needs it for anything.
She’s so happy with it that her little sister, who is 3, is now saying she wants one too!
Fun and games
Harriett loves arts and crafts and uses her prosthetic to draw, paint and write. She also uses it for playing the guitar, painting her nails and going up and down on her scooter and bike. It’s made a big difference, as before she was needing to lean quite heavily to compensate. Now she can sit up straight on her bike and we think it won’t be long before we can take the stabilisers off.
Using a knife and fork was a big moment too, because Harriett had never been able to do that before. She can now cut up her food herself for the first time.
As she gets older, we imagine her using it for many other different tasks and activities.
Best thing about her Koalaa prosthetic
The best thing about the prosthetic from Koalaa is its usability and the way it has benefited Harriett’s independence. She doesn’t need our involvement, she can just put it on and use it when she wants it.
It’s also very comfortable to wear and she loves that she can decorate it with her own designs.
Harriett now has more confidence and independence. The most important thing for us is that it helps her feel better and gives her more options and opportunities.
I’m hoping the prosthetic grows with her and she continues to find new ways to use it. If it keeps helping her at school, that’s a big thing too.
ProjectLimitless has been brilliant and to anyone considering registering, I’d say you’d be mad not to.