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AwardsOct 23, 2023

Veteran with spinal cord injury first to receive Jaco arm

A former Paratrooper, who was paralysed in an accident, has told how he can feed himself for the first time in 17 years after being given a Jaco robotic arm.

Military veteran Jon Noble is only the second person in the UK to own a JACO assistive robotic arm, which is mounted on a power wheelchair, thanks to funding from military charities Support Our Paras, Blesma The Limbless Veterans, Help for Heroes, Royal British Legion and ABF The Soldiers Charity and case working and liaison support from SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.

The veteran was badly injured in a road traffic accident in 2003, which left him as a C4 tetraplegic.

Power Diary
Power Diary

How does the Jaco arm work?

This arm, which is composed of carbon fiber and is resistant to the elements, has a 6-axis movement that enables it to replicate the motions of a human arm, providing up to 16 different movements for increased flexibility and realism. It is mounted onto Jon’s electric wheelchair, and Jon is able to take full control through a chin-operated joystick control system.

Though some users can take control using joystick head control sip, sip-and-puff, head array system, or almost any other interface, in combination.

Wheelchair control

Jon served for four years in 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. He completed two tours of Northern Ireland and one in Iraq. When he was first injured, he would ask himself at night, "Can I just have one arm back please?" Seventeen years later, his prayers have been answered.

“I gave up all control over my life 17 years ago. The JACO arm will mean I have more choice over my own life and going to help me reengage in life and interact. I can start to see things opening up again for me now.”

The JACO arm was supplied and installed by Rahana Life. The robotic arm was developed by Kinova in Montreal, Canada and not available on the NHS.

Jon’s wife and main carer, Glynnis, who he met in 2007 and married last year on Zoom, discovered the JACO arm on Christmas day through YouTube and knew instantly that it was going to make an impact on their daily living.

“From the moment I saw the arm, I couldn’t believe it. This is life-changing.

There are a thousand things that this arm is going to allow him to do; simple things like scratch his own itch! Time spent just getting out the house is going to be cut down by at least 50% in my world. It’s not just affecting him but me and the responsibility on my shoulders, which lightens my load.”

Jon added: "For the first time, I was opening doors, which is huge for me due to safety, picking things up – and dropping them, but that comes with practice. I even took my first selfie.

I’m so happy and privileged to get this technology and for the military charities to help me out with funding.”

Power Diary
Power Diary
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