Thursday 30 October 2014

Thieves steal war veteran's prosthetic-arm-controlling iPod

Matthew Sparkes

Published 27/08/2014 | 12:32

Photo: http://www.touchbionics.com/

Thieves have left a veteran of the war in Afghanistan with a useless prosthetic arm by stealing the iPod Touch which configures and controls the device

A US veteran of the war in Afghanistan who lost an arm and both his legs in an IED blast has been left with a totally immobile $75,000 prosthetic arm after thieves stole the iPod Touch which controls it.

Staff Sergeant Ben Eberle was on patrol in Tangi Valley in 2011 when he noticed a blue wire in the road. Suspecting it to be an IED he turned and ran, lifting his right arm to protect his face, and was immediately hit by a huge explosion.

The blast threw him into an armoured truck, and he ricocheted off and flew another 35 metres.

"They didn't know if I was going to make it,” Eberle told Military.com. When he awoke he had lost both legs and his right arm. Since then he has used a wheelchair and a sophisticated prosthetic arm controlled by an iPod Touch which gives him fine motor skills.

On Thursday night thieves attempted to pick the lock of Eberle’s truck, but struggled and eventually smashed the window. After unsuccessfully attempting to steal the radio they again gave up and took only the iPod from the glove box.

"I was p***ed. I threw my blanket off and I wanted to just get up and run out the door, but I had to get my wheelchair," said 27-year-old Eberle.

Eberle’s expensive prosthetic arm, manufactured by Touch Bionics, comes with the iPod as part of the price as it uses a special app called i-limb to configure and partially control the device. Without it, the arm is largely useless.

A spokesperson from Touch Bionics said that it was “truly unfortunate” that the iPod had been stolen, and told the Telegraph that a new device would be sent to him free of charge as soon as possible.

The company clarified that some media reports claimed that the arm was now totally irreparable as it was inextricably linked with a single iPod. This is incorrect, and Eberle’s arm will be operation again once the replacement iPod arrives.

Telegraph.co.uk

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