Ben Dodds - Sci-Fi Loving Film Buff Gets His Own ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hand After Tragic Accident Changes His Life Forever

Ben Dodds is a husband, sci-fi devotee, and fitness enthusiast originally from Croydon, London.

Adoring the film industry and being a self-confessed “geek” Ben has worked for Paramount studios as a Production Technician for ten years. In November of 2016, after seeing the torrential downpour outside, Ben’s life took a fateful turn when he decided to take the tram instead of biking to work as he usually does. This simple journey to work ended in tragedy when after entering a tunnel, the tram made a 90-degree turn and abruptly derailed after failing to slow down. In the process, Ben was ejected from his seat and suffered a severe crush injury to his right arm when the side of the Tram carriage landed on him. Devastatingly people’s lives were lost, and others seriously injured due to the crash. Ben recalls being in and out of consciousness in the ambulance and was told that his arm was beyond saving.

After Ben's amputation above the elbow and the loss of his dominant hand, he had to get used to using his left hand for everyday tasks. “When I left the hospital, they recommended colouring books and Lego to help me learn to use my left hand," explained Ben. In March 2017, Ben went to the Dorset Orthopaedic (formerly Pace Rehabilitation) Amersham clinic for the first time, where he worked with prosthetist Hakim and physio Kat to evaluate different prosthetic solutions to help him return to everyday life. “Since my first meeting with the team at Amersham they've been great”, said Ben. “Always determining with me what prosthetics I would need and putting me at the centre of all discussion. When opportunity has arisen, I've been able to be part of development and meet the companies that have provided elements of my arms to aid my knowledge and understanding within the prosthetic world.”

Ben was initially fitted with a body powered prosthesis and sports arm but since has undertaken successful myoelectric trials enabling him to wear the Michaelangelo hand, the newest ILimb Quantum hand and Espire elbow. “When we began discussing the Michelangelo arm, initial discussion centred on the benefits of this hand for me, including its ease of use and how it works in terms of the sensors and how signals are generated. From here, I then learnt how to generate the necessary signals in my arm and would practice this through a computer training program and then following this through to a trial prosthetic and spending time with the Ottobock team developing the arm.” Ben can now wear his prosthesis for up to seven hours a day and trains regularly to keep his core stable, shoulders strong and to prevent himself from leaning to one side. “My first impressions of the Michaelangelo were that it is brilliant, just using my left hand made everything a struggle but functionally having a “second hand” again made things a lot better for me day to day, especially cooking, playing video games and gardening.”

Ben accredits adapting to his prostheses to his great attitude and love for technology. “I remember when I had my amputation, one of the first thing I said to my wife was “I'm going to get a hand like Luke Skywalker now”, laughed Ben. Although enjoying success with his prosthesis, Ben acknowledges the hardship that comes with losing his arm. “Its important to see the arm as a tool and not a replacement for your own arm. Stay as healthy as you can and look after your body, it will make using your prosthesis a whole lot easier.” In his spare time, Ben cycles and runs frequently, he recently took part in his first triathlon post-accident and hopes to take on more challenges in the future.