Boy, 9, hits mountain bike trails thanks to new prosthetic arm

A nine-year-old boy from Penkridge has become one of the first children in the UK to receive a new type of prosthetic arm, thanks to an innovative project.

Harley Pitt using his prosthetic arm on his bike
Harley Pitt using his prosthetic arm on his bike

Harley Pitt was born with a "below elbow limb difference", meaning that his left arm did not develop below the elbow.

An active and independent young sports fan, Harley has never let that hold him back, but there are certain tasks and activities he can find more challenging - such as riding a bike.

However, his new arm has a special tool for cycling and it's already proving a hit on the mountain bike trails.

Harley doesn't let his condition hold him back

Harley now has an award-winning Koalaa prosthetic arm through the Project Limitless initiative - the result of a collaboration between the Douglas Bader Foundation and quadruple amputee and adventurer Alex Lewis.

The project aims to provide every child in the UK who needs one with a free prosthetic arm.

Ian Pitt, Harley’s dad, said: “We didn’t know about Harley’s limb difference until he was born and it was quite a shock.

“Having no prior knowledge of how people with limb differences ‘cope’ we were naturally concerned how he would get on with doing the things we all take for granted.

Harley Pitt and his dad, Ian

“I’m passionate about motocross, cycling, and anything on two wheels, so when I found out we were having a son I hoped that would be a passion he would share.

“When we realised his limb difference, my mind went into overdrive on how we could still get him on a bike.

“But we quickly realised that Harley wasn’t going to let anything hold him back. He’s worked out his own way of doing most things and is super independent.

“Harley learned to ride a bike with no stabilisers at the age of three. I knew then that nothing is going to stop him."

Harley Pitt

Ian added: “I secretly hoped that there was something out there that would still make riding a bike easier and enable him to explore the trails like I do.

“That’s why it’s been brilliant working with the team at Koalaa on a tool that helps him do that. The first time he tried it on his bike he was stoked and said, ‘Dad this is ace, I feel so free!’.

“To be honest, when we first heard about Project Limitless, we never expected to receive something as cool as the Koalaa sleeve.

“He’d had other prosthetics before but they weren’t very comfortable and didn’t work that well for what he wanted to do. This was totally different!”

Koalaa’s engineering team created a special bike riding adaptation, knowing that cycling is something many children and adults with a limb difference are keen to do.

Harley was delighted to be asked to work with the team on its design, including testing out various prototypes and even paying a visit to Koalaa’s London workshop.

The tool he has helped design is now available for people with limb differences across the world.

Harley has received a Koalaa soft prosthetic, which unlike traditional prosthetics is more like clothing, in that it’s lightweight and made from material, making it perfect for an active child.

The sleeve is worn and can then be fitted with a range of different tool attachments, which can be used for different tasks, including painting, playing an instrument, using a tennis racket and holding cutlery or drinks.

Alongside the sleeves, Koalaa also provides ongoing support for users through a dedicated ‘Limb Buddy’ service.

Ian added: “It’s so amazing to watch Harley going for it on the local trails around Cannock Chase and he can’t wait to enter a few more races.

“It’s also inspired me to sign up for my own cycling challenge too. In June, I’ll be joining three work colleagues and cycling to Amsterdam to raise money for prostate cancer.

“I can’t thank Koalaa enough for the work they do, it’s truly life changing and inspiring.”

To find out more or to register a child for support through Project Limitless, visit yourkoalaa.com/projectlimitless

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