In 1996 Rob Smith, then a twenty year old student, suffered a high-level spinal cord injury which left him with partial paralysis in all four limbs. After spending nine months in a spinal rehabilitation unit, he was eventually able to return to University as a disabled student to complete his degree course in engineering.
Although able to stand and to walk short distances using crutches, Rob was frustrated by the limitations caused by his poor hand function and the lack of suitable equipment available to help him, so he began designing a range of aids to enable him to live a more independent life. He tracked down the necessary materials and explained to his mother how he wanted the aids put together. She then made them on her sewing machine at home.
The results were remarkable. Rob’s gripping aids enabled him to successfully carry out many additional tasks, from household DIY to skiing in the Alps, and brought him the added independence he needed. As a result his family began to make the aids available to others with poor hand function, and in 2008 Active Hands became a limited company.