When former soldier and double amputee Ben McBean saw someone in Plymouth wearing a lifelike prosthetic arm, he had to know where he could get his own — and he found what he needed at Dorset Orthopaedic.
Thanks to the clinic’s internationally-renowned silicone workshop in Ringwood, Ben, 31, of Richmond, has an arm so lifelike people often don’t realise he is wearing a prosthesis.
“All my friends and family were pretty shocked when they first saw it. I don’t think people realise what can be done to be honest! The best thing about it is the fact most people don’t even notice I have a prosthetic arm and that says it all.”
Ben lost his left arm, and his right leg above the knee, after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) laid by the Taliban in the Afghanistan conflict in 2008. He’s probably best known for the fact his plane ride home for treatment was spent in the company of Prince Harry, who later dubbed him a “real hero”.
Ben quickly adjusted to having a prosthetic leg and arm, and poured his energies into creating a new life for himself, becoming a motivational speaker and starting his own property development company — which he has now sold to take early retirement.
He also set himself incredible challenges, including completing the Three Peaks Challenge, running the London Marathon two years in a row and climbing to Everest Base Camp
It was five years ago that he first heard about Dorset Orthopaedic, when he was talking to someone who had a prosthetic arm that was extremely lifelike.
“It looked about ten times more realistic than the one I had at the time. I wanted one right away and pretty much drove straight to the clinic in Ringwood. I had a cast taken and was told to return for moulding a week later. The cast only took about 15 minutes and it actually felt quite nice. I’d never seen anything like it before but I knew it was going to be something special.”
A couple of finalising appointments later and Ben was introduced to his new arm. He said:
“When I saw it all finished for the first time I was over the moon! From day one, all I wanted was an arm which looked real and it’s exactly what I got. I wear it all the time; it’s such a confidence boost for me.”
Ben has a summer arm and a winter arm with differing skin tones to match when he has a tan, and has recently collected a new arm, since the silicone has a finite lifespan.
“My newest arm is even better,” he added. “It’s so lifelike, even down to the veins in the hand. It’s incredible what they can do.”