Sun Jifa, a farmer in China, had his life changed forever when an explosive he planned on using for fishing went off prematurely. He lost his arms and when he couldn’t afford high-end, hospital-made prosthetics he opted for a cheaper set. Finding those to be less than acceptable, Sun started building his own pair of arms, which he currently wears. It’s an incredible story of ingenuity and personal strength.
After creating his own pair of arms Sun started building others. Selling functional prosthetic arms for under $500, he saves people from buying the poor quality ones he was forced to use and helps those who are unable to afford professionally-made ones which can cost up to ten times the price. To date Sun has been able to help hundreds of people rebuild their lives after a catastrophe.
While the arms look rudimentary compared to what you may expect (especially once the term “bionic” gets thrown around) the video shows that they are fully functional and don’t hinder their owner from doing manual labor or precise mechanical work (such as making more arms).
Sun noted that “[The left arm] transfers power from the natural movement of my elbow into the finger, allowing it to grab and hold… rotating the two bones that I have left in this arm allows my right hand to open and close,” giving us some idea of how they operate.
The mechanisms inside the arms appear to be simple, functional, and versatile, so while the arms lack the life-like nature of the prosthetics produced by a major firm they are still an incredible achievement.
For his effort Sun Jifa has created a thriving business, become local celebrity, and earned international media attention.