Ambionics - Affordable body powered hydraulic prosthetic arms for babies and toddlers By Orthopaedic Research UK

51.5% funded

£10,000.00 the goal


£5,145.00 pledged so far from 54 backers
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Latest Backers

  • Lieven Grauls : £100.00
  • Susan Bell : £50.00
  • Menna Jones : £100.00
  • Abdulrahman Albar : £20.00
  • Carlos CHAU : £10.00
  • Gary Cross : £25.00
  • Edward Barlow : £30.00
  • Heather Turner : £10.00
  • David Truyens : £100.00
  • Gillian Mowbray : £30.00
  • Simon Gillis : £500.00
  • Alan Whistler : £50.00
  • Paula Hanks : £10.00
  • Anonymous : £100.00
  • Brett Langenberg : £13.00
  • Angela Smith : £10.00
  • Dani Clode : £5.00
  • Joshua Lomax : £10.00
  • Sarah Popplewell : £50.00
  • Anonymous : £20.00
  • Shirley Wright : £100.00
  • Nicola Harris : £20.00
  • Pranav Vasanthi : £5.00
  • Anonymous : £10.00
  • Emily Tidmarsh : £10.00
  • Alison O'connell : £20.00
  • Alison Beer : £50.00
  • Anonymous : £20.00
  • Pete Blakemore : £50.00
  • Joy Solmonson : £100.00
  • Abdulla Baobeid : £10.00
  • Jamet Taylor : £10.00
  • Ann Callan : £10.00
  • Chris Lewis : £10.00
  • Natalie Thomas : £5.00
  • Anonymous : £10.00
  • James Sheridan : £50.00
  • Terry Brett : £40.00
  • Douglas Gore : £10.00
  • Paul Smyth : £50.00
  • Laura Giddings : £20.00
  • Mike Brojak : £10.00
  • Chris Elsworthy : £5.00
  • Anonymous : £10.00
  • Kevin Ryan : £25.00
  • Hannah Keeley : £20.00
  • Vandana Singla : £50.00
  • Alan Whistler : £50.00
  • Rebecca Ryan : £10.00
  • Laura James-Mowbray : £50.00
  • Anonymous : £25.00
  • Bernie Fraser : £12.00
  • Stefan Gierczycki : £25.00
  • Ben Ryan : £3,000.00

Ambionics is an award winning med-tech start-up focusing on prosthetic intervention at a very early age in infant amputee. Medical prosthetics currently available to babies and toddlers are outdated. Unfortunately, newer technologies,  adapted for adults, are often unsuitable for use in young children under the age of three. Ambionics has developed an affordable body-powered prosthetic for use by infants. They are now looking to develop the prosthetic further and need funding to cover research material and staffing costs to conduct user testing.


This crowdfunding campaign is supported by: 

Infant amputees currently have a very limited choice of prosthetics

In many cases, parents are faced with the choice of plaster casts or newer technology (developed with adults in mind) for their young children. Neither of these options take into account the unique needs of a growing child exploring their environment. 

Current prosthetic arm technology for young infants dates back, in many cases, to the Victorian era (plaster casted moulds for example). They are perceived as ugly and are often rejected by infants and young people. Unfortunately, newer technologies, such as arms with myoelectric sensors, are very often unsuitable for children under 3 years of age. The batteries and motors can be powerful, with the potential for injury, the sensors can’t always detect an EMG signal (due to ‘puppy fat’) and must be protected from liquids. Body powered hooks too are cumbersome and restrict the kinds of clothes that can be worn, cables and harnesses require regular adjustments and the appearance is often described as ‘industrial’ and unnatural. 

Ambionics has developed a prosthetic arm with the needs of a growing child in mind

Learning how to grasp a soft toy is a crucial milestone in all infants’ lives. This seeming simple action is learnt by a young child through a series of attempts which teaches the child how to perform the grasping action. In addition, by repeating the attempts the child is assessing their environment and learning what is and what is not possible. As the child attempts to grasp the toy, nerves signals are sent down different pathways to the brain, in essence programming the brain to perform the action of grasping the toy. 

Intriguingly, research studies have shown that if these nerve pathways remain unused, they will be lost, a process called synaptic pruning. This could perhaps explain why many infant amputees tend to reject prosthetics when they are currently introduced at around the age of two and a half years.

(For a good description of synaptic pruning and how it affects human development, please follow this link: )

At Ambionics we have reasoned that since the extent of the pruning is partly a product of time, it makes sense that practicing any skill (including the use of prosthetics) in the first two and a half years, will be more successful if introduced as early as physically (and technologically) possible. The cumulative effects (over the first two years) of our pioneering intervention for young children improves motor function, proprioception and spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, muscle tone and improved readiness to engage with more sophisticated prosthetic devices.     

We need £10 000 to conduct user testing of our latest prosthetic models this summer

With your help, we’re hoping to raise £10,000 to help us conduct further research and recruit passionate people who can help us further develop the product. This will also allow us to further test our product at Warwick School of Engineering ahead of device certification in Autumn. Over the next year, Ambionics anticipates creating 6-11 jobs and raising significant levels of investment to fund the necessary clinical and medical device usability trials. The first Ambionics laboratory is scheduled to open in October 2018 with further laboratories opening across Europe and the United States in 2019 - 2020.

Thank you for backing our campaign!

Body powered hydraulics for infants - a nature inspired approach

In September 2015 we settled on the idea of a body powered hydraulic design. This approach was inspired by how nature allows spiders’ legs to actuate using hydraulic pressure. 

Body powered hydraulics work in the following way: sacks of fluid (actuators) are placed in front and behind the moveable part of the forearm within the socket or under the shoulder. Each time pressure is applied to the actuator, fluid is displaced, causing it to move through the system under pressure. This pressure operates the gripping mechanism between the forefinger and thumb.

Since infants at the intended age (8 to 36 months) regularly switch between crawling and walking, it was decided to keep the fingers of the hand rigid and load bearing but still ‘hand-like’ and attractive.

Ambionics is developing an affordable accessible prosthetic for young children 

One of the factors we identified for prosthetic rejection was attendance at limb centres for fitting. This process can be distressing for infants and usually involves parents taking unpaid leave or using their allocated annual leave. Instead we can train parents to 3D scan their child’s arm whilst they are asleep at home.

During deep(REM) sleep, infants are effectively paralysed. This provides an ideal opportunity to capture biometric data using an inexpensive technology. From here, we generate digital test sockets for sizing followed by the full arm system. There are obvious benefits to having digital backup copies and since these can be digitally scaled, only one scan is required per year and we can offer replacement sockets as required. This process has now been tested internationally on our beta trial so we are confident to move on to the next phase in our R&D.


It is estimated that in the US alone, around 4 out of every 10,000 live births has a congenital upper limb deficiency, excluding medical accidents at birth and amputations following meningitis and cancer but more commonly through trauma, i.e. lawn mower accidents. In conflict zones and in the developing world the incidence is of course much higher. 

A poll of all manufacturers of prosthetic devices revealed approximately 10,000 units sold per year in the US yet 30-50% of upper limb deficient persons do not use prosthetic arm / hand regularly. There is a clear moral as well as commercial case to bring products and services to market that can help the youngest children take up the use of prosthetics.





























ERA Foundation “Born to Engineer”

RS Components “Portrait of an Inventor”

Life Science Hub Wales


Ben Ryan didn’t study or intend to be a design engineer. He got his degree in psychology and taught A-level psychology courses internationally for 12 years. But that all changed when his son, Sol, was born.

Due to an injury during delivery, Sol had his lower left arm amputated days after his birth. Ben soon learned that the National Health Service wouldn’t be able to assist Sol with a functioning prosthetic arm until he was four years old. However, having done extensive research on infant development he knew Sol would be more likely to reject the prosthetic if not fitted before the age of two, so he decided to take action.

By watching tutorials and visiting various forums, Ben taught himself the basics of design using Autodesk Fusion 360 software and created a functioning prosthetic arm for Sol. He began by taking digital scans of his son’s residual limb with a Microsoft Xbox Kinect scanner to ensure a proper fit and used Fusion to design a prosthetic that integrated a hydraulic system developed by Ryan that enables the wearer to open and close the thumb. The idea was inspired by how spiders use fluid pressure to move their legs. The prosthesis was then fabricated using a 3D printer and silicone moulding. 

Not only does this design weigh less than traditional prosthetics, it also delivered cost savings of up to 76 percent and reduced production time from 6 to 11 weeks to 5 days. More importantly, Sol wears his arms as it if were second nature.  Because of his father’s intervention Sol has no muscle atrophy on the affected side and this is helping him make the transition to electrical devices much smoother. The vast majority of infants like Sol would have abandoned prosthetics by now.   

Ben is continuing to work with Autodesk with support from RS Components to further develop the design and functionality of the device through user testing. Realising the power that digital design tools and 3D printing have to change the way things are made, the father from North Wales has also started his own company called Ambionics and launched a crowdfunding campaign to help other children like Sol get access to affordable prosthetics.



'Ben Ryan and Ambionics’ work in prosthetics for children is not only innovative, but also has the potential to make real change in the field. Affordable prostheses for children has a big potential specifically for developing countries and I believe Ambionics is doing a lot to bring benefits to such communities. I am part of Ambionics Health Advisory Board and very glad to go above and beyond to support this initiative through constructive collaboration'

- Khaled Goher, Professor of Biomedical Science, Aston University


'Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s research and development department supports the work being carried out at Ambionics, which has the potential to revolutionise the care of infants with upper limb differences.'

- Dr Nefyn Williams, Director of Innovation, BCUHB, NHS Wales


'Ambionics is a representation of many things to me, not only is Ben pulling himself up by the bootstraps to help his son, he’s demonstrably proven that the prosthetics world is ready for a paradigm shift, particularly when it comes to how we think about prosthetics for children. What really excites me about this is how Ben is able to work in a true, pure digital method, allowing him to connect with parents and clients from all over the world.'

- Paul Sohi, Product Designer, Autodesk


'3D printing has been around for many years for rapid prototyping and is only recently creating waves in manufacturing across many key industrial sectors in the U.K. The potential for 3D printing in advancing healthcare technology is significant. The proposition and creative genius of Ambionics in using 3D printing and new materials to the benefit of prosthetics has the potential to revolutionise the lives of thousands of children (and adults) in the U.K. alone. I believe this product is a true game changer that creates a significant step change in the field of prosthetics.'

- Dr Louise Jones, 3D printing/Additive manufacturing lead, Knowledge Transfer Network


'This case is indicative of 3D printing’s ability to improve lives by overcoming the traditional barriers of low-volume manufacturing, We continue to support and enable innovators like Ben to bring customization to mainstream prosthetics manufacture.'

- Scott Rader, General Manager, Healthcare Solutions, Stratasys.




Kaveh Memarzadeh
Well done - I'm sure you will make it work!
07/06/2018 08:39:53
Ben Ryan
Thank you to everyone who backed and shared this campaign. Sadly I missed the target and it was an all-or-nothing deal. Your donations will not be processed. I would like to encourage the 53 kind ladies and gentlemen who backed this to consider making an equivalent donation on the Ambionics website instead. We accept Card and PayPal donations. Thank you!
06/07/2018 20:01:08
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