Nicky Ashwell be bionic

Nicky Ashwell - the first UK patient to be fitted with the bebionic small hand. Source:

Nicky Ashwell, 29, from London, was born without a right hand. For most of her life, Ashwell had to use one hand to carry out everyday task as her cosmetic hand was immobile.

That changed on 16 June 2015, when she was fitted at the London Prosthetic Center with what has been described as the world's most lifelike prosthetic hand.


Developed by Steepler, experts in the field of prosthetic limbs, the bebionic small hand is an anatomically accurate artificial limb with miniaturized components providing lifelike movements. Built using Formula 1 technology, the bionic limb is a “turning point in the world of prosthetics” with its ability to perfectly mimic the functions of a real hand via 14 different precision grips.


Developed with women and teenagers in mind, the hand weighs a mere 390g, but is strong enough to handle weights up to 45kg. It works by using the user's muscle movements to trigger sensors connected to individual motors in each finger and powerful microprocessors. The technology comprises a unique system which tracks and senses each finger through its every move – mimicking the functions of a real hand, says Steepler.


Thanks to the bebionic small hand, Nicky Ashwell is now able to perform everyday activities that most of us take for granted. The 29-year-old product manager at an online fashion forecasting and trend service had this to say about the artificial limb:


“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.” 


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 lifelikeness.”