Saturday 25 February 2017

Formula 1 technology used for woman's bionic hand - 'I can carry my purse while holding my boyfriend's hand'

Jennifer Cockerell

Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, poses for portraits at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London.
Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, poses for portraits at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds flowers at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds weights at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 16, 2015. Ms Ashwell, 29, from London, can now carry out tasks with both hands for the first time, but said it is the little things she can now do that surprise her the most, such as being able to carry her purse at the same time as holding her boyfriend's hand. See PA story HEALTH Hand. Photo credit should read: Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, poses for portraits at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds a glass of water at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds flowers at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds a glass of water at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire
Nicky Ashwell, the UK's first patient to receive a lifelike bionic hand, holds flowers at the offices of the London Prosthetic Centre, Kingston, West London. Laura Lean/PA Wire

A woman has been able to ride a bike for the first time after being fitted with what has been described as the world's most life-like bionic hand.

Nicky Ashwell, 29, from London, can now carry out tasks with both hands for the first time, but said it is the little things she can now do that surprise her the most, such as being able to carry her purse at the same time as holding her boyfriend's hand.

Ms Ashwell, who was born without a right hand, had previously used a cosmetic prosthetic that she was not able to move.

Now she has been fitted with an anatomically accurate new hand developed by prosthetic experts Steeper, described by the company as a bionic breakthrough that uses Formula 1 technology to deliver "unrivalled level of precision and natural movements".

The hand, which weighs about the same as a bar of chocolate, has small proportions that have been specifically designed with women and teenagers in mind and is built around an accurate skeletal structure with miniaturised components designed to provide the most true-to-life movements.

Ms Ashwell is now getting used to being able to carry out everyday activities, such as using cutlery and opening her purse, that most people take for granted.

The product manager at an online fashion forecasting and trend service said: "When I first tried the bebionic small hand it was an exciting and strange feeling - it immediately opened up so many more possibilities for me.

"I realised that I had been making life challenging for myself when I didn't need to.

"The movements now come easily and look natural - I keep finding myself being surprised by the little things, like being able to carry my purse while holding my boyfriend's hand.

"I've also been able to do things never before possible like riding a bike and lifting weights."

She was fitted with the hand at the private London Prosthetics Centre.

Ted Varley, technical director at Steeper, said: "Looking to the future, there's a trend of technology getting more intricate. Steeper has embraced this and created a smaller hand with advanced technology that is suitable for women and teenagers.

"An accurate skeletal structure was firstly developed, with the complex technology then specifically developed to fit within this in order to maintain anatomical accuracy. In other myoelectric hands the technology is developed first, at the expense of the life-likeness."

Press Association

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