A three-year-old girl is one of the first in the world to benefit from a new, soft, customisable prosthetic arm designed by Imperial College graduates.
Hero, from Herefordshire, was born with one hand and is one in 32,000 people born with an upper limb difference called Symbrachydactyly.
Her parents, Amy and Ben, trialled a new low-cost prosthetic arm from Mitt Wearables when she was two-and-a-half and it has allowed Hero to carry out a range of new tasks.
Amy told the BBC: “It’s just given her opportunities to do things that she has never had before.
“She was painting the wall and taking a drink at the same time – she had a go at using a screwdriver – it’s really opened up the world for things she can do.”
Mitt Wearables offers a lightweight, soft, and adaptable arm which, at less than £500, is an affordable option for children who rapidly outgrow traditional prostheses.
Alternatives range in price from £5,000 to £10, 000 and are more heavy and expensive.
Amy added: “The potential of what this will offer her in the future is pretty huge.”
Mitt Wearables were designed entrepreneurs Nate Macabuag and Ben Lakey, former Imperial students, backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“Traditional prosthetic arms are not only expensive but tend to be heavy and uncomfortable to wear,” said Ben.
“We’ve taken a very different route with Mitt. Instead of trying to mimic a hand, we’ve created an arm and a range of simple tools that can be attached and swapped as required.
Mr Lakey said they listened to users’ needs when designing the product and were keen to design a product that could be used at all times.
He added: “The feedback we’re receiving has been just amazing.”
Globally, more than 70 million people are affected by limb loss with 90 per cent of those currently unable to afford any kind of prosthesis – Mitt Wearables’ aim is to rapidly scale their business.
Elspeth Finch, head judge for Launchpad competition for the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub, said: “Nate and Ben are inspiring engineers.
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“We’re excited to see their business launch across Europe and expect it to grow rapidly.
“They have addressed a clear gap in the market for lower cost, easily customisable prosthetic limbs, and we expect there to be global demand for their design.
“Mitt is a fantastic example of the best of British engineering innovation.”
The prosthetic will be available in the spring and anyone interested can join the waiting list here.