I Wayan Sumardana is a 31-year old welder from a small village called Nyutehbel in Bali, Indonesia. Six months ago, he woke up without any feeling on his left arm. Initially, he thought he had a mild stroke, but doctors and local “shamans” could not provide an accurate diagnosis on what happened.
This paralysis greatly affected his family, as he could not work for two months. He had to find a way to provide for his 3 sons and his wife. Asserting that he merely did research over the Internet, he built a bionic arm using scrap metal from his junk yard.
Nicknamed “Sutawan,” the man has no college degree, but he did attend a technical secondary school. He states that he was passionate about electrical engineering, even as a child, and he currently works as a welder and a repairman for electronic devices—such as electric fans, refrigerators, and televisions (a far cry from bionic arms, to say the least).
Self-made electronic arm
Sutawan’s bionic arm consists of a headband and a small machine hoisted on his back. Cables run over his left arm from the machine.
He claims that brain signals are interpreted by the machine, which then moves his arm. However, experts assert that it is not operated via brainwaves, as it lacks the necessary components.
Without this “bionic arm”, his left arm hangs limp by his side and he can only move 2 to 3 fingers.
He claims that he can only use the arm for 4 hours, as it makes him feel dizzy and sick. Interestingly, villagers claim he is being possessed while wearing the bionic arm.
He has become a celebrity, and crowds of journalists from all over the world have interviewed him. That said, experts cast doubt on his machine, saying that there is no programming encoded in the machine to translate brain signals into movements. Nevertheless, his fellow villagers consider him to extraordinary. His family feels thankful that he can work again, and can continue to survive in this small Indonesian village.