Meet Shropshire schoolboy Harrison - one of the first to use a new prosthetic arm

A Shropshire schoolboy has become one of the first people in the world to try out the new prosthetic arm.

Harrison using his Koalaa prosthetic at The Wave
Harrison using his Koalaa prosthetic at The Wave

Harrison Algar, six, of Culmington, near Ludlow, was born with a congenital limb difference meaning that his left arm did not fully develop before birth.

And while the Corvedale Primary School pupil isn't held back by his left arm, he does find some activities can prove a little more tricky... including surfing.

But not now, because he has used a special prosthetic arm at a special surf session held at the UK’s largest inland surfing venue, The Wave in Bristol.


Harrison's mum, Sue Algar, said: “Seeing Harrison go for it and have so much fun out on the waves was just fantastic.

"He was so confident and just couldn’t stop smiling.

"The new prosthetic helped him balance and stand up on the board and he was so proud to be surfing!

"It has given him an opportunity to try new things and he couldn’t wait to tell his teacher at school about it.”

Proud mum Sue added: "He's a real get up and go kid and we allow him to try anything. He's tried gymnastics, tennis and football."

Harrison, who likes all subjects at school has a particular liking for dinosaurs and wants to be a paleontologist, has been given the new prosthetic arm to keep.

Harrison's mum who runs AirBNB properties, firefighter dad Matt, and little sister Libby are all impressed with his surfing style.

The new arm, the first of its kind in the world, has been designed to help surfers with upper body limb differences to ‘pop-up’ on their board.

Named ‘Nicole’ after the individual who inspired its design, the prosthetic has been developed by UK startup Koalaa, which is on a mission to make prosthetics comfortable, affordable and accessible for anyone on the planet.

After months of development and a successful trial, the tool is now available for surf fans of all ages around the world.

Koalaa’s patented design sees a soft fabric sleeve being worn that can be fitted with different tool attachments, depending on the task the user would like to do.

Knowing that surfing was something many people within the limb difference community were keen to try and that ‘popping-up’ onto the board was a key challenge, they set about creating a solution.

Amongst the surfers taking to the waves in Bristol was Nicole Brennan, who has a below elbow limb difference and has worked closely with the team at Koalaa on the design of the new prosthetic. It has been named in her honour.

Nicole is founder of The IAMPOSSIBLE Foundation, one of the only disabled-led charities for those with limb differences in the UK and which aims to create a world where ability is not defined by an individual's form or physical appearance.

She said: “I spend as much time on the beach as I can and have always wanted to try surfing but never felt like it was a sport that was available to me.

"Being able to push up from the board to a standing position was always a barrier and it’s been amazing to work with the team at Koalaa to create a prosthetic that can make surfing accessible for those with limb differences like mine.

"Projects like this, which give people the confidence and tools they need to go out there and try new things, show that anything is possible, and that’s huge.”

Nick Hounsfield, Founder of The Wave surfing venue, said: “We have always been passionate about making surfing accessible to all. Our whole space has been designed to be truly accessible, our surf coaches are trained to provide specific adaptive surf training for those with different needs and we have been huge supporters of Team England Adaptive for a number of years.

"We jumped at the chance to enable the testing and launch of this brilliant innovation from Koalaa, which we hope will break down even more barriers, so everyone can share in the joy of surfing.”

Nate Macabuag, founder of Koalaa, added: “It’s been so amazing to see members of the limb different community having so much fun trying out the new prosthetic on the water!

"Enabling people to go for it and to try new things, or even just helping to make everyday tasks a little easier, is why we do what we do.

"All of our designs are driven by our users, their ideas and feedback and they remain closely involved at every stage of the design process.

"Naming our prosthetics and tools after the people who inspired them is something we always love to do.”

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