Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Independent. Sporty. Mitt user.
Ryan’s Koalaa Soft Prosthetic Story
Ryan is 9.5years old and lives with his mum, dad and older brother in Perth, central
Scotland. Ryan was born with a shortened left arm and finger buds (affectionately referred to
as his nubbies). But from climbing to bike riding and swimming, nothing has ever got in his
way and we were delighted when he volunteered to put an ALX through its paces!
We caught up with his mum, Cat, to find out more.
What’s family life like?
We’ve never made a big deal of Ryan’s limb difference and it certainly hasn’t ever held him back! Like any other boy his age, he never sits still. He’s just adapted and worked out his own way of doing things - using his elbow joint to pick things up and finding there are very few things he cannot do. As his dominant hand is his right hand, the impact has been quite small.
What prosthetics do you have?
Ryan is now starting to get to that age where he is a little more self-conscious. When he
started at primary school there were no other kids with a physical disability and he became
more aware that he had a slightly different arm to everybody else. So the first prosthetic he
used was purely for cosmetic purposes.
We found a realistic-looking hand, which he would wear under his school jumper. But it’s
rigid and doesn’t have any functionality and actually prevents him from using both his arms,
as he would usually do. So he just ends up taking it off. When he transitions to secondary
school, it may be something we look at again, if he wishes us to.
How important are prosthetics?
As Ryan’s dominate hand is his right hand, his ability to do things hasn’t been impacted upon that much. He can write and paint and can even climb just fine. It is only certain tasks that require two hands, which can cause him an issue. For example, he can ride his bike using his elbow but it’s quite uncomfortable for him.
One of the main reasons we were so excited about Koalaa was because he desperately wanted to be able to skip and that is a task that needs two hands.
How did you first come across Koalaa?
We are members of a charity called Reach, who support families of children with upper limb
differences. It was through the charity that we first came across Koalaa and volunteered to take part in a product trial, to help the design process by sharing our feedback and ideas.
Best thing about Koalaa?
When Ryan’s ALX arrived, it was everything we expected it to be and more.
Rather than being heavy and rigid like other prosthetics, which would end up rubbing, the ALX is very light and made from soft material, meaning it’s very comfortable to wear.
We like that there is a choice of attachments and that they are very straightforward to clip on and change. The ALX can also be tightened and loosened very easily and Ryan picked it up immediately and can do it all himself.
What has Ryan used his ALX for?
Ryan was thrilled that he could finally skip and we’re really excited to know that the Koalaa team is working on an attachment to help with riding a bike too. We can’t wait to try that one out!
The best thing about Koala for us is that Ryan has even more options. Whatever activities or
hobbies he may want to try now, or in the future – even if they need two hands to do - he has no limitations. Nothing will hold him back and that’s just wonderful.