Ian Reid was on a summer holiday in Gran Canaria in 2004, when
he was involved in a tragic bus accident that claimed the life of
his wife and left him with horrific injuries to his left arm. After
a brake failure, the bus rolled onto its side and slid down a steep
road, with Ian's arm horrifically trapped.
The firefighter from the Scottish Highlands spent a week in
hospital in Gran Canaria, an experience which he recalls as being
the worst of his life.
"I couldn't speak the language and was in a lot of pain and
discomfort the whole time," he says.
After a week, his insurance company flew him back to Scotland,
where he spent several months in intensive care in Aberdeen.
"It was good to be back home, so my family could be with me,"
recalls the father of three. "My mum and dad came down from Thurso
and stayed by my side the whole time, while friends and family
pulled together to make sure the kids were looked after."
Ian's injuries were severe, but he still had some remnant bone
and tissue from his hand, and the first goal of surgeons was to try
and save whatever function they might be able to from his remaining
"It was a terrible-looking injury, like something out of a
horror movie," says Ian. "The surgeons tried to retain a basic open
and close pinch between my finger and thumb, but it didn't work out
in the end."
Ian found out from speaking with other amputees that prosthetic
devices were advancing all the time, and that there were new
myoelectric devices that could bring an improved return to
function, but even more appealing to Ian was the fact that he would
no longer have to cover his disfigured arm in public.
"By that stage I just didn't want to have to look at it
anymore," he says.
In 2004, Ian opted for an amputation of the lower portion of
his left arm, and was initially fitted with a passive
prosthesis that provided him with the immediate benefit of
covering-up his injury.
"At least people stopped staring," says Ian. "Which was great,
because I had become so tired of the public reaction to my
However, the device didn't offer any return to function, and in
2007, Ian was fitted with a myoelectric device by the UK National
Health System (NHS), which was heavy and cumbersome, but provided
some basic grip features that allowed him to get back to some of
the joinery work he had done before becoming a firefighter. Ian's
ultimate goal was to regain the level of function needed to get
back to active duty with the fire service.
A year later, Ian saw a news story on the BBC about a Scottish
man who had been fitted with a remarkable new prosthetic hand with
articulating digits. That man was Donald McKillop, and the product
was Touch Bionics' i-LIMB Hand.
Ian approached his solicitor about opening a case to get an
i-LIMB Hand, and in 2009 approached Touch Bionics to begin the
process towards fitting. At the time, Touch Bionics was working on
the next version of the i-LIMB Hand, and was close to completing
its work. As a result Ian was offered the chance to be the first
user of the i-LIMB Pulse, and in early 2010 was fitted with the
"The i-LIMB Pulse is a very exciting technology development,
particularly for someone like myself, who is looking to get back to
a level of duty in the fire service," says Ian. "The pulsing
effect, increased robustness and range of grip features will
hopefully give me the increased level of function I'm looking