A Retired Staff Sergeant Gets a Second Chance at a Normal Life

Meet the man who received the world’s first robotic arm . . .

When James Sides went out on patrol, he located an IED buried in the Afghanistan earth. As he began working to dismantle it, something went wrong and the device detonated close to his body. Sides recalls being thrown from his position when he realized that his right hand was completely missing. The blast also left him blind in one eye.

Though he made a healthy recovery, Sides never truly felt like his life returned to normal. That’s when the Alfred Mann Foundation decided to help Sides with a revolutionary new prosthetic. The Foundation, and the Alfred Mann Institute, develops prosthetics for medical use. Alfred Mann himself did extensive work in the field of hearing and eye aids, helping to make major breakthroughs in the field of medical science. They partnered with Rich Davis and the team at Rogers &Cowan to try and bring awareness to this piece of sci-fi made real.

The Foundation embedded several sensors within Sides forearm that are designed to translate his muscle movements into hand motions. As our hands move, the muscles in our forearms have to move with the fingers. The sensors help fill in the missing muscle, sending signals to the hand that dictates how it moves or whether the palm opens or closes.

Using this technology, Sides has regained crucial mobility that has helped him get one step closer to living life as it was before the accident. He has even regained his confidence, and hopes that his new hand will help him re-enter the workforce. He plans to be a part of Colorado’s ski patrol, where he hopes his survival skills will be put to use helping the lives of those on the slopes.