Many people who suffer with physical, sensory, or cognitive problems will be under the care of occupational therapy to help them regain independence in all aspects of their lives.

Rehabilitation for these patients has now been enhanced at Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital following the purchase of a brand new, upper limb brace.

The Mobile Arm Rehabilitation Kit (MARK) – a powered arm and hand orthosis designed to help restore function to paralysed or weakened upper limbs – is now available for patients thanks to a £50,000 investment from the League of Friends.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital is currently the only NHS Trust in the UK with access to this piece of equipment.

Mr Simon Pickard, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who specialises in hand and upper limb surgery – specifically upper limb paralysis from brain or spinal cord injury as well as peripheral nerve injuries – was the driving force behind the purchase of the MARK system.

He said: “This is a really innovative and progressive piece of equipment that will benefit a large cohort of our patients going forward – especially those with weakened muscles or paralysis that require intensive rehabilitation.”

One of the first patients to use the orthosis as part of their rehabilitation was 18-year-old Zac Fox who suffered an injury to the nerves in his right arm following a motorbike accident back in 2019.

Zac had nerve surgery at RJAH by Mr Pickard back in January 2020 and is now under of the care of the Occupational Therapy Team.

Mr Pickard added: “The brace provides the opportunity to help patients retrain muscles that they cannot control, or are recovering following injury or reconstructive surgery – this is the case for Zac, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to carry out day-to-day activities.

“As the first NHS Trust to have this system, it means we have the opportunity to be involved in high-quality research and will allow us, as a hospital, to provide our patients with world-class care.”

The MARK brace is created by a company in the USA called Myomo who offer mobility medical robotics for those suffering from neurological disorders and upper-limb paralysis.

Victoria Sugden, League of Friends Charity Director, said: “We are so pleased to be able to fund such a trailblazing piece of equipment – the Peripheral Nerve Injury Team provide an excellent service and the MARK equipment will only enhance this further.”

Pictured [from left to right] is patient Zac Fox, wearing the The Mobile Arm Rehabilitation Kit (MARK), with Heather Thomas-Bache, League of Friends Office Manager and Head of Volunteering; Mr Simon Pickard, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon; and Alison Mannion, Occupational Therapist.