Young disabled surfer takes to the surfing thanks to prosthetic arm

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‘The prosthetic gave her the confidence and support she needed to push up from the board to standing’

An eight-year-old girl made a splash and became one of the first in the world to trial a new prosthetic arm - designed top help people SURF.

Joanie Melady wore the new support mechanism - described as the first of its kind - created to help surfers with upper body limb differences to ‘pop-up’ on their board.

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The young girl tried out the new prosthetic arm at the UK’s largest inland surfing venue The Wave, just outside Bristol.

Joanie was born with a congenital limb difference meaning that her left arm did not fully develop before birth.

Alan Melady, Joanie’s dad, said the prosthetic arm gave his daughter the confidence she needed to throw herself into the activity - and it turns out she is a “natural” on the water.

 The prosthetic arm has given Joanie the confidence to surf The prosthetic arm has given Joanie the confidence to surf
The prosthetic arm has given Joanie the confidence to surf | The Wave / SWNS

He said: “Joanie had never tried anything like this before but she’s really sporty and was super excited to get out there and give it a go. Turns out, she’s a natural!

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“She smiled the whole time and as soon as she had ridden one wave in, she was straight back out there to catch the next one.

“The prosthetic gave her the confidence and support she needed to push up from the board to standing.

‘’I’ve surfed a few times before but she was way better than me! We’re so proud of her.”

UK startup Koalaa, which has been developing the tool for months, is on a mission to make prosthetics comfortable, affordable and accessible for anyone on the planet.

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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.

The ‘Nicole’ - named in Ms Brennan’s honour, 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.

Nick Hounsfield, founder of The Wave, 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.”

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