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'Now I can dress myself thanks to my new miracle arm' - Erin


It’s a first for Erin Power as she takes a selfie on RTE One’s Big Life Fix

It’s a first for Erin Power as she takes a selfie on RTE One’s Big Life Fix

It’s a first for Erin Power as she takes a selfie on RTE One’s Big Life Fix

A teenager born without arms can dress herself for the first time thanks to a tailor-made prosthetic arm with dressing hooks.

Erin Power was struggling to be independent before inventor James Carrigan and coding prodigy Niamh Stockil dreamed up a new way to transform her life.

While most teenagers click countless selfies every day, RTE's heart-warming Big Life Fix show captured the touching moment Erin took her very first selfie after the ingenious pair created a phone system which she carries around her neck.

Before they arrived in her Dublin home, Erin had a special needs assistant at all times in school.

Her mum had to go along when she socialised with friends as she needed help dressing herself when she visited the bathroom.

"Asking someone to do anything is a thing I hate but sadly I have to do it all the time," the teenager says on camera.

Erin - born without arms due to a condition called amniotic band syndrome - showed extraordinary independence by learning to do most things with her feet.

"I taught myself to feed myself with my feet, how to write and draw and open door handles, I just instinctively picked those things up because I was like, 'OK, I can't do things this way but maybe I can do things this way'," she says.

She even brushes her hair and her teeth with her feet but her biggest wish was to be able to go to the bathroom and dress herself and use her phone independently.

After struggling to use a clunky prosthetic she was given at the age of five, Erin gave up on artificial limbs.

However, she had grown more self-conscious about using her feet in public and felt her confidence sliding.


"It's just I'm getting a bit more insecure about using my feet for stuff in public," the 15-year-old tells RTE.

Her mother Nicky adds: "I feel like saying to her if I could take off my own arms and give them to you, I would, but that is not what she wants to hear either."

In the programme, the teenager is overjoyed when the team reveals its fixes.

Mr Carrigan and Ms Stockil, who works for Microsoft, have created a lightweight prosthetic with dressing hooks to allow her to pull clothes on and off.

"That's so cool. I've never been able to do this before," says a delighted Erin as she tests pulling down tracksuit pants pulled on over another pair.

The arm also comes with a second attachment to help her work her phone and computer.

Erin cries out with excitement when the team unveils her new phone system, which dispenses with the need for other people to take it out of her pocket.

"You can take your very first selfie ever," says Mr Carrigan as Erin holds out the phone in front of her face and clicks.

The final fix was a giant bespoke Harry Potteresque keyboard which she can use with her feet to pursue her passion for writing.

"I'm a big nerd and I love books. I really enjoy writing, I want to be a fantasy author, I really like the Harry Potter books," she says.

"It's really cool. Oh my God, I have no excuse for not writing any more."

Big Life Fix, RTE One on Wednesday at 9.35pm