A new kind of bionic hand is helping conservationist Gavin Hageman get to grips with recovering from a massive stroke.

In September, the father-of-two from Eastfield Road, Witney, was laying tiles in his new conservatory when the stroke left him fighting for life.

The 45-year-old managed to crawl to the phone to dial 999 for paramedics who rushed him to intensive care.

Mr Hageman was paralysed down his left side and remained in a critical condition for several weeks.

But gradually, he began to regain some sensations and is now one of the first patients at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre to use the spring-operated SaeboFlex, which fits on to his left hand.

The device helps patients unclench their fists, enabling them to pick up items and rebuild pathways between the brain and the fingers.

Mr Hageman said: “After I collapsed, my whole body was numb and I still have reduced sensitivity on my left side.

“Before this happened I used to work for Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust as a conservation officer and I would build bridges and look after nature reserves.

“Before that I was a chef and I love chopping vegetables to make meals for my wife Alison and our two boys, Finlay, six and Luke, four.

“I am left-handed, so since the stroke it has been very difficult to do the things I love to do.

“But the SaeboFlex is definitely helping my recovery.

“I have been using it for about six weeks now and I have already noticed a big difference.

“I don’t wear the SaeboFlex at home because I think it makes me look a bit like Freddy Kreuger and I wouldn’t want to scare the children.”

Mr Hageman has been using the device with the help of staff at the Oxford Centre for Enablement, part of the NOC in Headington. He has been staying at the centre after being transferred from Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital and is now going home at weekends.

He added: “I’m determined to get control of my hand back and I will work as hard as I possibly can to achieve that.

“The SaeboFlex costs about £1,000 and ideally I would like to be able to buy one so that I could take it home to speed up my recovery.

“I loved working for BBOWT and I would like to get back to my job as soon as I possibly can.

“I was such an active person and I miss the job like hell.”

Helen Walsh, a spokesman for BBOWT, said: “We wish Gavin a speedy recovery and hopefully he will be able to return to work at some point in the future.”

Natalie Wallace, superintendent physiotherapist at the NOC, said: “Many of the patients we treat have varying levels of disability that have resulted from some neurological trauma, like stroke.

“The results that can be achieved by using a tool like the SaeboFlex are really impressive and we’re really excited to have this as part of our treatment equipment.”