David Aguilar Amphoux was born with a creative spirit and Poland Syndrome, a condition that prevented the development of his right arm and pectoral muscle. The 22-year-old Andorran holds the Guinness World record for being the first person to self-build his own fully functioning prosthetic arm using LEGO® bricks. David is on a mission to make affordable prosthetics widely available and to raise awareness about dif-ability (different ability), working to help other young people believe that “dreams are possible if you fight for them.”
David’s innovation journey began at the age of five when he received his first set of LEGO® bricks. He spent hours playing with what soon became his favorite toy. At nine years of age, determined not to be defined or limited by his condition, he began exploring how to build a mechanical arm with LEGO bricks. Nine years later at 18 years of age, he succeeded in building his own prosthetic arm using LEGO bricks. It came with a movable elbow joint and a grabber to pick things up. He has continued to refine his prosthetic and now has a collection of five different models, all made from LEGO bricks. His latest model, the MK5, articulates fully and has fingers that move thanks to a set of mechanical pulleys. David has also produced a video explaining how to build the prosthetic, which is available, for free, on YouTube.
David has won many awards and accolades for his inspiring initiatives and their social impact. For example, in 2017, he won the Guiness World record for his work. Two years later, NASA invited him to take part in the 2019 Cross Industry Innovation Summit. The educational arm of LEGO has also invited him to work on pieces for its Spike™ Prime series, playful learning tools that encourage students to explore STEAM concepts.
David’s passion for innovation has led him to study bioengineering at the International University of Catalunya (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya) (UIC Barcelona)) to support his plans to develop better prosthetics to help people living with disabilities.
“Due to the success of this invention, I have been able to understand that my role in life is to help people, which is why I am studying bioengineering while creating a series of projects with an important social, educational and cultural impact,” David says.
David’s social impact projects include the development of his solidarity brand HandSolo. Through the website, HandSolo.com, David sells a range of merchandize and donates a proportion of the profits to associations working with people living with disabilities and various solidarity projects.
Video: David Aguilar explains how to build and program the latest version of his prosthetic arm, the MK-V LEGO®.
Prior to launching his brand, David sought authorization from Disney, to avoid any legal problems. “The launch of my solidarity brand HandSolo was authorized by Disney, since the phonetic similarity with the character from the [Star Wars] Saga required authorization,” he explains.
David and his family are strong advocates of inclusion and diversity. David’s father, Ferran, has written an educational comic in which David ─ himself a victim of bullying because of his condition in real life ─ is portrayed as a superhero who fights against bullying.
The reaction of young people to David was the inspiration for the comic. When young people see him with his rather cool prosthetic, their perception of disability changes very quickly; prejudice and stigma disappear and their perception becomes more positive. The aim of the comic is to educate young people about disability, to change perceptions about those who are dif-abled ─ or who have different abilities ─ and to promote greater inclusion, tolerance and respect.
“My story of overcoming disability teaches both children and adults to believe in their dreams, to fight for them and not to collapse in the face of adversity,” David says.
As Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility and with my story I have understood what my role is in this life. Inspire, motivate and raise awareness.
David recounts his heartwarming personal innovation journey in his memoir, Piece by Piece, published by Penguin Random House, and the documentary “Mr. Hand Solo”, which was nominated for the 2022 Goya awards.