Bionic limbs boost self-esteem of Gaza amputees

GAZA, April 19 (Reuters) – A “smart” prosthetic hand that mimics human anatomy and movement has enabled Ahmed Abu Hamda to play with his children and regain self-esteem, as part of a new project in the Gaza Strip, where the conflict with Israel has left hundreds of Palestinians without limbs.

Since March, a Qatar-funded hospital in Gaza has been providing myoelectric prostheses, motorized devices powered by batteries and controlled by electrical signals generated by muscles.

Hamda, 36, lost her right hand in 2007 when unexploded ordnance exploded. He is now able to play with his two children, eat, drink and do home repairs thanks to his newly installed myoelectric limb, he said.

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“Since I got the limb, my outward appearance has improved, people don’t recognize that I have an amputated hand,” he told Reuters at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Hospital. Thani for rehabilitation and prosthetics.

“At home, I can drink water, and if I go to the market, I can hold bags and the mobile phone,” said the satellite dish installer.

The project is the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories. So far, 21 amputees in Gaza have received “smart” limbs, and another 40 are on the waiting list, hospital officials said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross lists at least 1,600 amputees among Gaza’s population of two million. The Assalama Charitable Society, which cares for the wounded and disabled, said 532 Gazans had lost limbs in the conflict with Israel.

Inaugurated in 2019, Hamad Hospital has treated hundreds of amputees. Since 2014, Qatar has spent more than $1 billion on construction and relief projects in Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist group Hamas.

Patients are not charged for an artificial limb, said Noureldeen Salah, general manager of Hamad Hospital, putting the cost of a “smart” prosthesis at around $20,000.

Now that he has his new artificial hand, Abu Hamda said, he can embrace life more fully with his four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son.

“Now I can hold them, play with them, grab their hands and walk down the street,” he said with a smile.

(This story has been reclassified to recast the first paragraph)

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Written by Nidal al-Mughrabi Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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