A British woman has been fitted with what's billed as the "world’s most lifelike bionic hand". The bebionic small hand is the latest model in Steeper's bebionic line of prosthetic hands and is the first of the advanced myoelectric hands to be specially designed to fit women and teenagers as it senses the user's muscle movements and uses these to trigger individual motors in each finger.

Nicky Ashwell, 29, is a congenital amputee from London, who was born without a right hand. She became the first user in the UK of the recently launched the bebionic small hand when it was fitted at the London Prosthetics Centre. Previously, she had relied on cosmetic hands that provided no functionality. However, the Centre says that the bebionic small hand now allows her to ride a bicycle, grip weights with both hands, use cutlery, and open her purse thanks to the technology that uses sensors to detect muscle impulses in her stump and by means of microprocessors turns these into commands that operate the fingers.

“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," says Ashwell. "I realized 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.”

Developed by Steeper, the bebionic small hand is the smallest version yet of the bebionic myoelectric hand. Created using Formula One and military technologies and designed around the human skeletal structure for a more natural appearance, this latest version is scaled for women and teenagers, and has miniaturized components and 337 mechanical components for more lifelike movements.

Weighing around 390 g (14 oz) and measuring 165 mm from the base to the middle fingertip, the bebionic small hand is strong enough to hold up to 45 kg (99 lb) and is capable of assuming 14 precision grips, as well as bespoke ones. According to the makers, it allows wearers to perform activities that were previously too complex and unmanageable.

"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," says Ted Varley, Technical Director at Steeper. "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."

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