Norfolk bionic man first in UK to get new leg

A Norfolk man who lost his left leg in a road crash has become the first UK patient to be fitted with a new bionic leg prosthetic system.

The Genium leg is said to provide lower limb amputees such as Matthew Newbury, who now lives in central London, with the ability to move with greater precision and response.

Its supplier, Otto Bock Healthcare, claims the microprocessor-operated system - which launches today in the UK - revolutionises the quality of life for amputees.

It can differentiate between when a person is standing still and walking, and has 10 modes for different activities such as cycling, cross-country skiing and golf.

One of its key technological aspects is the Optimised Physiological Gait (OPG) which allows for a gait close to a natural one.

Mr Newbury's system has been personalised to enable him to lock the leg in a position to operate a rudder pedal when he flies aeroplanes.

Costs vary but his is worth around �50,000, which includes the prosthesis, fitting appointments with his prosthetist at ProActive Prosthetics and six years warranty and servicing.

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Property developer Mr Newbury, 30, was aged 15 when he lost his left leg after a motorbike he was a pillion passenger on was struck from behind by a Land Rover, on the A14 in Newmarket.

He spent more than 18 months in various hospitals and rehabilitation centres as doctors battled to save his right leg and administered 11 skin grafts.

In 2004 he was awarded �2.1m in compensation for the crash, as well as awards for future accommodation - and blew some of the cash on a Porsche with the number plate HA5 1 LEG.

Today the Genium enables him to walk up stairs foot-over-foot, walk backwards, cope with rough terrain and stand for long periods with his knee locked - feats that were never before possible for him.

Mr Newbury, who lives in central London, said: 'The new Genium has completely changed the way I live my life and has provided me with the confidence to attempt things that I had thought were beyond me.

'With previous prosthetics, I was constantly aware and cautious of their limitations.

'You need to think about every step.

'With Genium, it does all the thinking for me.

'I can now easily climb the scaffolding on my housing projects and am able to walk, ride and navigate life without a second thought.'

Mr Newbury admits he made some wild decisions following his payout, resulting in him losing his driving licence for speeding in his Ferrari in central London.

But the experience proved to be a turning point for him and he sold his expensive cars and moved abroad to take stock of his life.

When he returned, he used the rest of his payout and money from other investments to run his own home building company.

Mr Newbury, who left school with five GCSEs, is now said to be worth more than �9m.

His prosthetist, Richard Nieveen, said: 'It is very encouraging to see Matthew so well with this new knee and we will be watching his progress with great interest.''

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