Giving Tilly a Hand

Tilly contracted meningitis as a little girl and lost both hands.
Word by Tilly's Mother, Sarah Lockey, as published by in September 2016

Being fitted with a bionic arm by Open Bionics

The Open Bionics connection came about when we saw an online request for children who had upper limb amputations to volunteer to help with 3D printing prosthetics. We had never tried 3D printing prosthetics before and I always wanted to keep Tilly really up there when it came to trying out the best hands. I also thought it was time to get Tilly involved again – she had just started to lack in a bit of confidence not wanting to show her arms out in public and wanting to cover up the scarring on her legs so I was hoping this might help her.
I hadn’t realised that Tilly had been chosen from hundreds of applicants and we are so grateful that she was. We were shown a video link of what Open Bionics and Deus Ex wanted to develop and showcase at San Diego Comic-Con and we were blown away. It got us really excited about prosthetics again. It all seemed totally what Tilly would choose to be involved in. She loves heroes and super powers, as well as gaming and fashion, so it just seemed like all of this rolled into one.
Open Bionics sent us a 3D scanner in the post, so we took a 3D scan of one of Tilly’s arms and emailed it back to them. We travelled down to Bristol and met the Open Bionics team and instantly felt comfortable with them. They were all so enthusiastic and excited to really push prosthetics to the limit – if there even is a limit with Open Bionics. Their enthusiasm knows no bounds and they are constantly going beyond the boundaries of what everybody had thought possible.
Tilly was helping with research on what amputees need and was fitted with the socket that had been created from the 3D scan we emailed and sensors were attached to her arm to work out the sensitivity of Tilly’s muscle movements. They were making an ‘Adam Jenson’ bionic arm for a child and this is what Tilly would wear in San Diego.Tilly is happy working alongside Open Bionics and she is loving everything about the experience. I think this opportunity came at the right time for Tilly as she had just started to lose a little bit of her confidence and this has brought it back.
There were photos taken of Tilly walking around Open Bionics playing with her new bionic arm for the first time and just having fun with it. It was amazing how easily she could use it just after a few minutes.
There were also images released of her wearing her arm at Comic-Con in San Diego. She loves being able to use the fingers to make different gestures like thumbs up and the ‘OK’ sign, as she has never been able to do these things before. She’s even got her own signature pose when she looks through the ‘OK’ sign – people have been calling this ‘The Tilly pose’. It’s really cool for her and amazing to see her have fun and be excited about a prosthetic.
Tilly loved being involved in Comic-Con. She is very professional and works alongside adults very easily. It didn’t faze her that she had to sit on a panel for an hour in front of an audience and talk about the project. I couldn’t be more proud.

Coming up next for Tilly

We are still working with Open Bionics and developing children’s bionic hands. We are at conferences in Amsterdam and London over the coming months as well as waiting for surgery to happen on Tilly’s legs.We just want to continue to help change the world of prosthetics and support Open Bionics as much as we can. Tilly’s dream is to make prosthetics a high fashion piece – something that amputees can be proud to wear.
She already has done a lot of modelling but she would love to take it to the next level and model bionic hands as a fashion accessory and not just a necessary piece of equipment. Tilly would love to be there to show other children who have a disability that there is a better future for them and that they can do it too. Maybe one day Tilly can draw around her bionic hand to support another child fundraising for bionic limbs.

Team Credits

Samantha Payne

  • Co-Founder and COO

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Samantha Payne
Co-Founder and COO