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INNOVATION FOR INDEPENDENCE

ISSUE 74 August/September 10 £6.95

Human tests on mind-controlled artificial limbs By Dominic Musgrave THE first human testing of a mind-controlled artificial limb is ready to begin in America after the university behind it received a $34.5million contract. A joint project between the Pentagon and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), the Modular Prosthetic Limb will be fully controlled by sensors implanted in the brain, and will restore the sense of touch by sending electrical impulses from the limb back to the sensory cortex. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has provided the funds for the device, which researchers claim would by far eclipse the hook-and-cable device used by most amputees. The final design offers 22 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger, in a package that weighs the same as a natural limb. Programme manager Michael McLoughlin told Assistive Technologies it is designed to respond to a user’s thoughts. He added: “We’ve developed the enabling technologies to create upper-extremity prosthetics that are more natural in appearance and use, a truly revolutionary advancement in prosthetics. “Now, in phase three, we are ready to test

it with humans to demonstrate that the system can be operated with a patient’s thoughts and that it can provide that patient with sensory feedback, restoring the sensation of touch.” The team will develop implantable microarrays used to record brain signals and stimulate the brain. They will also conduct experiments and clinical trials to demonstrate the ability to use implantable neural interfaces safely and effectively to control a prosthesis, and optimise arm control and sensory feedback algorithms that enable dexterous manipulation through the use of a neuro-prosthetic limb. Michael added: “Initially, we have targeted the quadriplegic patient population because they have the most to gain. “Unlike most amputee patients who have other options in terms of care and independence, these patients are totally dependent on others for most things. There is no alternative. Their lives will be truly transformed by this advancement. “The goal is to enable the user to more effectively control movements to perform everyday tasks, such as picking up and holding a cup of coffee.” Over the next two years, the team hopes to test the systems and neural interface technology in five patients.

British motor racing legend Sir Stirling Moss officially opened the annual Mobility Roadshow exhibition at the East of England Showground, Peterborough. Other guests over the three days included former England rugby union international, county cricketer and broadcaster Alastair Hignell, wheelchair basketball player and TV presenter Ade Adepitan and disabled actor David Proud, who has appeared in Desperados and EastEnders. Full story, Page 20


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Stem cell lifeline for sufferers By Dominic Musgrave CULTURED stem cells are to be used for the first time in the UK to treat the common joint condition of osteoarthritis, throwing a potential lifeline to millions of sufferers in the future. A new clinical trial funded by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK aims to test the effectiveness of stem cells derived from bone marrow at repairing worn cartilage in osteoarthritis of the knee. The stem cells will be tested against cultured cartilage cells which are currently used to repair small areas of cartilage damage, but not osteoarthritis. These cells are extracted from patients, grown in the lab and re-implanted back into the patient. A combination of both types of cells will also be trialled with the aim of repairing damage to the joint, stopping osteoarthritis getting worse and delaying or even avoiding the need for knee replacement surgery. Professor of orthopaedic surgery at Keele University, James Richardson, who is jointly leading the study with Sally Roberts, professor of orthopaedic research, said the study offered a real chance to help osteoarthritis patients, for whom there is currently little effective

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treatment, apart from joint replacement. He added: “It’s great that Arthritis Research UK is funding this work in Oswestry to take things further. We are the first laboratory in the UK producing mesenchymal stem cells and chondrocytes for treating patients, so we are unique in being able to test the effectiveness of both types of cell therapy. “The important thing is to run a randomised trial. If successful, we need to find out if it is cost-effective. If a few years can be saved, the benefit to the patient may be not to prevent the need for a joint replacement, but to prevent need for a revision of a joint replacement.” Up to 70 people with established knee osteoarthritis will take part in the year-long trial, scheduled to start by the end of 2010, to be run at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire, as part of a five-year £500,000 research programme. The hospital has been at the forefront of using a surgical technique originally pioneered in Sweden called autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) using engineered cartilage cells taken from patients with cartilage problems – usually caused by sports injuries – for many years.

Britain’s Missing Top Model winner Kelly Knox hosted a fashion show at an event which had service users as the stars modelling some eye catching creations. The Enfield council event was a Beacon celebration to acknowledge and thank all the partners, service users and carers, that have supported and contributed towards the achieving the status and working during the year. Kelly hosted the show, which proved that disability is no bar to beauty.

If you’ve got a story for us please ring our healthcare editor Dominic Musgrave on 01226 734407

Study reveals dangers of high heels A STUDY by an American kinesiology master's student has found prolonged wearing of and walking in high heels can contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis. Danielle Barkema recently completed her thesis research at Iowa State University studying the effects of high-heeled walking on forces acting on lower extremity joints. She was assisted by professor and department chair Phil Martin. Danielle said: “Obviously with research like this, you can't say with any certainty that if you wear high heels regularly you will develop osteoarthritis. We don't know that. “There are probably high heel wearers who do and those who do not. However, based on this information, wearing high heels puts individuals at greater risk for

developing osteoarthritis. And it seems to be that the higher the heel height, the greater the risk.” She elected three different heel heights – flat, two inches, and 3.5 inches – and had each of the 15 women in her study complete walking trials. Danielle then measured the forces acting about the knee joint and the heelstrike-induced shock wave that travels up the body when walking in heels. Using sensors, accelerometers and lab equipment such as a force platform and markers/cameras, she was able to capture motion and force data and translate them into results that could change the way millions of women select their footwear. While previous studies have examined the effect of high heels on joints, the researchers found that

Contacts Editorial Andrew Harrod Group Editor editorial@assistivetechnologies.co.uk Dominic Musgrave Healthcare Editor Email: dm@whpl.net Tel: 01226 734407

heel height changes walking characteristics such as slower speeds and shorter stride lengths. And as the heels got higher, they also saw an increase in the compression on the inside or medial side of the knee. Danielle added: “This means prolonged wearing and walking in heels could, over time, contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis. Visually, it's quite apparent that somebody's posture is altered when wearing high heels. “We noted those changes in posture in the study, as well as various joint angles, such as the knee and ankle angle. The most dramatic change occurs at the ankle.” The idea for the research thesis topic actually came from Barkema's twin sister, Ashley, who saw the physical toll regular high heel wear was having on her co-workers.

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A PHYSIOTHERAPIST has been struck off the HPC Register for failing to provide a private area for a patient to undress, failing to provide a gown for a patient, failing to leave the room whilst patients were undressing and inappropriately massaging patients when there was no clinical reason to do so. A panel of the HPC Conduct and Competence Committee heard how the allegations against Ashok Chitte Sreenivas involved his conduct towards three female patients, all of whom had been referred to Physiomatters for treatment following injuries that each had received in separate road traffic accidents. A complaint was also made after he had telephoned one of the patients trying to pressurise her into having another session with him, explaining that the female physiotherapists were often fully booked. Ashok later telephoned the patient again asking her to withdraw her complaint and write a letter regarding this. She told the Panel that the registrant had explained to her he had been suspended from work and if the complaint was not withdrawn he could lose his job. Chair Mr John Williams said: “The Panel having found the majority of the facts to be proved that the actions of the registrant amounted to misconduct. There was no clinical justification for performing frontal massage on the patients. The Panel is satisfied that there was a sexual motivation in the actions and comments of the registrant towards all three complainants. “A patient is entitled to place trust in a treating physiotherapist, and the registrant’s actions breached this trust. The Panel considered the registrant’s behaviour to be so egregious that a finding of impairment was inescapable.” Ashok was present at the hearing and represented by Counsel.

Dr Maurice Ferre from MAKO and professor Phil Rowe from the University of Strathclyde

Robotic arm to be used in clinical trials By Dominic Musgrave A STATE-of-the-art robotic arm for orthopaedic surgery that could potentially transform the way in which knee joint replacements are conducted is to be employed in clinical studies. It is the first time the robotic arm technology pioneered by the MAKO Surgical Corp will be used outside the US. The American firm has joined forces with orthopaedic surgeons from NHS Scotland and engineers from Strathclyde University to establish the multidisciplinary MAKO Centre for Surgical Robotics. Over the course of the next three years, the Centre at the University’s Department of Bioengineering, together with the participating surgeons at the NHS, will take part in randomised clinical trials of

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MAKO’s Robotic Arm Interactive Orthopaedic System, which allows surgeons to perform a precise knee resurfacing procedure called MAKOplasty®. Professor Jim McDonald, principal of the University, said the technology could reduce the cost to the NHS. He added: “The creation of the Centre for Surgical Robotics reflects Strathclyde's strategic mission to apply high quality research and enhance our successful links with industry and the NHS to bring benefits to wider society “If successful, the Centre will contribute to improving the functional outcome of knee surgery patients in Glasgow, reducing pain and helping patients recover more quickly. “The potential for further

developments through this new partnership could transform many other aspects of orthopaedic surgery." MAKOplasty®, which is commonly performed on patients with early to mid-stage osteoarthritis of the knee, has been employed by orthopaedic surgeons in the US since 2006 to enhance the accuracy of the surgical procedure and significantly improve patient recovery time. MAKO, the University and NHS Scotland will support the first full and independent randomised clinical trial of the MAKO RIO®, and will draw on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s experience in orthopaedic innovation and joint replacement surgery, as well as the University’s internationally recognised expertise in biomechanical and functional assessment of orthopaedic devices.


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Robert Mason, a former agricultural engineer who suffered from chronic pain in his back and legs following a freak accident removing a gearbox from a large baler, was one of the first people in the UK to have the treatment.

UK first for implanted pain device By Dominic Musgrave A GROUND-BREAKING pain management device featuring technology similar to that found in the iPhone and Wii remotes has been implanted into a patient for the first time in the UK. The neurostimulator at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals will treat chronic back pain using Spinal Cord Stimulation, with mild electrical pulses delivered to the spinal cord to mask the body’s pain signals and replace them with a tingling sensation. The neurostimulator is the first in the world to use motion-sensing technology similar to the spirit level function in an iPhone or Wii remotes. It can sense a change in the patient’s body position or activity level and automatically adjust how much pain relieving stimulation to deliver. Until now, patients have only been able to use devices that deliver pre-set levels of constant stimulation which meant they had to frequently change their painrelief settings manually whenever they changed position or activity. The RestoreSensor was designed in the US and features technology that uses the force and direction of the Earth’s gravity to sense the

patient’s position. It also houses its own ‘black box’ which records and stores the frequency of the posture and activity changes. Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy, who carried out the first procedure using the device, said: “This is a very significant improvement on traditional Spinal Cord Stimulation implants because for the first time it will automatically increase or reduce the pain relief the patient receives – particularly during the night. “I’ve been working in this field for 15 years and this is technology we have always dreamed of. “We expect it to be used with some patients who suffer from severe leg or back pain, or postsurgery problems, who have not responded to traditional therapy or medication. When successful, it reduces pain by around 80 per cent, and patient satisfaction and quality of life will be very high.” Spinal cord stimulation was approved for use in adults with certain forms of chronic neuropathic pain in October 2008 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. RestoreSensor will be rolled out nationally with 25 hospitals expected to offer the service.

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Researchers in New Zealand have developed a pair of robotic legs to support and assist a person who usually uses a wheelchair. Dominic Musgrave found out more.

Rex helps Hayden to walk again ... WHEN Hayden Allen injured his spinal cord five years ago he became a full-time wheelchair user and doctors told him he would never walk again. But he is one of the first people in the world to test Auckland-based company Rex Bionics’ Robotic Exoskeleton, and is now able to stand, walk and go up and down steps and slopes. Being out of his chair and on his feet again allows Hayden many more options on a day-to-day basis, increasing opportunities for employment and recreational activities by providing access for him independently to go places previously inaccessible to him.

Hayden Allen with Rex

“I think this will also enable people to stay well longer; this means that those who have conditions where disease modifying treatments are coming over the next five to 10 years, will be in better shape when those treatments finally arrive.” Users self-transfer from their wheelchair into Rex, strap themselves in and control their movements using a joystick and control pad. It is powered by a lightweight, long life rechargeable battery, and is the brainchild of childhood friends, Richard Little and Robert Irving.

Dr Richard Roxburgh, medical adviser to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said: “For many of my patients Rex represents the first time they’ve been able to stand up and walk for years.

Both of their mothers are in wheelchairs, and Robert’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis seven years ago was the catalyst for them to put their engineering skills to use to develop a practical, standing and walking alternative.

“There are obvious immediate benefits in terms of mobility, improved social interaction and selfimage. There are also likely to be major long term health and quality of life benefits through reducing the complications of being in a wheelchair all the time.

Rex is not a replacement for a wheelchair, but a complement that offers a range of options not currently available anywhere else in the world. It is potentially suitable for manual wheelchair users who can self-transfer and operate hand controls.

Rex founder Richard Little

Potential customers must complete a medical appraisal including checks with their own physician to ensure their general health and suitability before they can begin the process of fitting and training. Rex has undergone thorough testing during its seven-year development including engineering validation and clinical trials, with the approval of the New Zealand Ethics Committee, in conjunction with disability and rehabilitation advisors.

International business awards success for Touch Bionics TOUCH Bionics has won the Most Innovative Company of the Year prize in Europe at the annual International Business Awards. Nicknamed the Stevie from the Greek word ‘crowned’, the awards will be presented at a gala dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Istanbul in September. In the application process for the award, Touch Bionics was assessed on its progress in innovation over the past year, which included the launches of both its ProDigits partial hand solution and its new prosthetic hand device, the i-LIMB Pulse. Honourees were selected through two rounds of judging by business professionals worldwide. More than 1,700 entries were received from organisations and individuals in more than 40 nations. CEO Stuart Mead said: “Winning an International Business Award is a demonstration of Touch Bionics’ outstanding 6

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2010

Stuart Mead

innovation and business success over the past year, and to win ahead of some of the biggest names in global business is a tremendous achievement. “Innovation is at the core of this company and, from the launch of our first product, the i-LIMB hand, we have never stopped innovating to ensure we continue to lead the world in the field of commercial bionic technology.”

Sports presenter John Inverdale has been appointed president of Aspire. The BBC radio and television personality has been involved with the spinal injury charity for the past 10 years. He said: “During my involvement with Aspire, regrettably I have seen how far too many people’s lives can be devastated by spinal cord injuries. It is the essential

and practical support from charities like Aspire that really helps people regain their independence, which is why I am extremely proud to take on the role as president.” John commenced his role as president by officially opening Aspire’s newly refurbished gym. Picture: John Inverdale chats with a user of Aspire’s newly refurbished gym.


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£1m boost for chip researchers

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By Dominic Musgrave A TEAM of researchers has been awarded a grant of more than £1m to develop a chip which can be implanted in the brain. The chip being designed by academics from Leicester and Newcastle universities and Imperial College London will be wirelessly connected to prosthetic limbs. It will collect data from neuron activity in the brain, and send the information wirelessly to move prosthetic arms or legs.

A patient tries the Wii Fit machine

Andy touches down with Wii boost for patients PATIENTS at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre are benefiting from the use of Wii Fit machines, one of which has been bought by former England rugby player Andy Gomersall. Andy has donated the console to the hospital, with one of the machines being used in the Oxford Centre for Enablement (OCE) based at the Centre. The OCE, which was also given a flat screen TV by a former patient, provides specialist rehabilitation services for patients with limb amputation or complex neurological and neuromuscular conditions. Senior prosthetics physiotherapist Lucy Holt said: "We have seen a vast improvement in some of our patients who also have a Wii Fit machine at home. “Using this machine as part of physiotherapy sessions really helps to improve the mobility and strength in our patients and is a bit of fun too. “We are extremely grateful to Andy Gomersall and the two former patients of OCE for donating the machines as they are proving to be a useful addition to our rehabilitation physiotherapy programme, which helps a range of patients who suffer from conditions such as stroke or loss of limb." Andy is president of the hospital’s League of Friends, and in 2008 officially opened the children's outpatient play area. One of the first people to benefit from the machine is Jon Martin, whose leg was amputated below the knee following a car crash three years ago. He tried out one of the programmes which focuses on balance and required him to shift his weight across the Wii Fit board to slot balls into holes on the screen. John added: “It’s been interesting trying out the Wii Fit and I can see how useful patients will find it as part of their rehabilitation programme.”

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Professor Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, a bioengineer who is heading up this research at Leicester, said the technology has the potential to enable patients with spinal cord injuries to move paralysed parts of their bodies by using robotic devices which are controlled by the wireless chip. He added: “This research is the first of its kind. We are addressing the problem of how to transmit a signal of hundreds of neurons from inside the brain to outside the brain. “The answer is by using wireless technology and advanced processing in a chip. This research will develop new technology to transmit messages from the brain to elsewhere in the body. “The use of wireless technology provides an alternative to cables, which can be obtrusive and have risk of infections.” Rodrigo said the battery-powered chip would, essentially, decode a person’s thoughts, which are represented in the brain as a pattern of neuron activity. He added: “A patient with a spinal cord injury

Rodrigo Quian Quiroga Picture: University of Leicester

may lose the ability to move his or her arm, but there is nothing wrong with the person’s brain. “The guy can see the object he wants to reach, the guy can have the intention to reach to the object, the brain can send a command to the arm – “Reach for this cup of tea” – but the signal gets broken at the level of the spinal cord. “If we can get the signals from these neurons and interpret them with what is called decoding algorithms, then we can move a robot device placed on the paralysed arm.” The £1.2m grant is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Fit for Work campaign is launched BRITISH workers are suffering physical pain as well as stress from working long hours, not taking lunch breaks and going to work when they are sick, new research has revealed. A survey commissioned by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists found a quarter of people regularly work all day without taking a break, and more than half said they often go to work when they are stressed or physically unwell.

Other results from the survey showed that 46 per cent of workers had physical pains caused by working in the same position for long hours, and 41 per cent of employees said they were too busy with work to exercise regularly. Chief executive Phil Gray said overwork was harming workers’ health, and also costing employers. He added:“With advice and support from physiotherapists and other

occupational health experts, employers can create healthier work environments and benefit not only society but also their profit margin.” To combat these problems, the society launched its Fit for Work campaign, which provides information for physios and leaflets for staff in offices and factories, suggesting ways to improve their health at work and fit exercise into their daily routine.

Chiropodist struck off after conviction A CHIROPODIST/podiatrist has been struck off the HPC Register following a conviction for breach of the peace and assault to injury at Perth district court. A panel of the HPC conduct and competence committee was satisfied from the statement of PC Barry McIntosh and the notification of conviction by Inspector Kinghorn that the allegations against Nicholas M

Grant have been proven. Panel chair Colin Allies said: “The Panel is satisfied that the registrant’s fitness to practice is impaired by the convictions contained in both allegations. “In reaching this decision the Panel has taken into account the nature of the convictions and the critically important public policy issues including the need to maintain confidence in the

professions, upholding proper standards of conduct and maintain public confidence in the profession and regulatory process.” The panel decided the most appropriate action was to strike Nicholas from the Register with an interim suspension order granted to cover the appeal period. He was neither present nor represented at the hearing.


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Two amputees are part of a team walking to the North Pole next year. Dominic Musgrave spoke to prosthetist Jamie Gillespie about creating a limb for the challenge.

How Jamie’s helping Guy rise to challenge GUY Disney is part of the seven-man Walking with the Wounded expedition that will encounter extreme temperatures of up to minus 40 during the 30 days. If successful, both he and fellow former soldier Jaco van Gass, will become the first amputees to reach the Pole, raising money to enable the blind, amputees, the burn victims, the mentally disabled and all the other wounded to rebuild their lives and to return to a work place. Jamie, who works for Pace Rehabilitation, said: “As an amputee myself, when I saw the advertisement for the trip, I wanted to be involved in some way. “The next best thing to being there myself will be creating a prosthetic limb to get Guy there, and I will be able to sleep well at night knowing he has got there. “I went with the team for a training session to the Arctic in May to see if his limb was going to be suitable because they are going to be crosscountry skiing 12 hours a day towing a sled.” Guy lost a leg in Afghanistan last year when his armoured vehicle

came under fire in an ambush and a rocket propelled grenade went through it, killing his colleague.

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South African born Jaco, a member of the Parachute Regiment, lost his left arm in Afghanistan last summer following a similar attack. Both were selected from more than 100 injured soldiers who applied to go on the expedition. Jamie said he has consulted with other prosthetists around the globe who have designed legs for amputees to climb Everest. “One of the main issues we picked up from training was the sweating because they are going to be working very hard. Guy was able to stop, take his leg off, dry it and attach it back again then because we were only working in temperatures of between zero and minus 10. “But on the expedition he is not going to be able to stop for half-anhour because he will hold up the rest of them and there will be an increased risk of frostbite.

design tend to fit if the individual loses or gains a couple of pounds, but not this much.”

He added: “The key is to get the limb in place so Guy can do lots of training with it.

“Another problem we face is the amount of weight he will lose, which typically can be between one and one-and-a-half stone. The limbs we

To combat this he says he hopes to create an adjustable socket over the next few months that Guy can tighten or loosen when required.

“The worst thing I can do is give him something a few weeks before he sets off that he is not totally comfortable with.”

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£30k grant to help disabled students through widgets RESEARCHERS at Teesside University have been awarded a £30,000 grant to help transform the lives of disabled learners and their teachers.

The £30,000 grant will provide bursaries for two researchers who will spend six months defining, designing, developing and evaluating digital resources.

Widgets for Inclusive Distributed Environments (WIDE) aims to produce up to 50 high quality widgets, similar to iPhone applications, which will support disabled students through their learning journey.

WIDE will bring together groups of staff who are involved in the teaching and support of disabled students in further and higher education. In a series of brainstorming sessions and workshops those teachers will put forward their own ideas for how the small WIDE applications can help and support disabled students.

The innovative project will be led by the Accessibility Research Centre within the School of Computing. Elaine Pearson, principal lecturer in the Digital Futures Institute, said: “We are really excited about this project because it means we can take a community approach to make a real difference to disabled students across higher and further education.” Funding was secured through the JISC Distributed Learning Environments scheme, and WIDE was one of only three projects that was successful in the funding application process.

Researchers will then design and develop a series of widgets which will be created for specific learning needs, with the aim of producing up to 50 digital applications which can be distributed to the education sector. Each widget will include descriptions of the user scenario on which it was based, together with a summary of its use in practice. The six-month WIDE project will run until December 31.

Depression is hampering stroke recovery DEPRESSION is preventing around one in seven stroke patients from making a good physical recovery, a new study suggests. The impact of depression on recovery from stroke has been largely underestimated and patients' psychological wellbeing should be monitored much more closely, according to the researchers from the University of Leeds. A study of more than 400 stroke survivors revealed that in around 15 per cent of patients, a downturn in mood can be severe and last for several months. One year after the stroke, patients with prolonged depression were more likely to have problems with speech and movement. Those with persistently poor mood were still struggling with simple tasks such as walking upstairs or holding a conversation. Dr Kate Hill, who led the study, told Assistive Technologies the psychological wellbeing of stroke survivors is seldom monitored. She added: “There are all sorts of reasons why stroke survivors who succumb to depression do worse. “They may not be engaging in their rehab, they may not be taking their medication, and they may become more socially isolated. “The label of post-stroke depression

is extremely common, especially in elderly care wards. Our results suggest that a policy of 'watch and wait' would be better rather than automatically giving out antidepressants.” After monitoring stroke survivors, the researchers discovered that patients fell into one of four different groups. Some had depression that improved relatively quickly, but at the other end of the scale, some were still suffering considerable psychological distress after six months. Kate added: “Some patients’ mood will improve after a short time but others will remain depressed for several months. We need a longer term view of looking at psychological effects after stroke. “If we can understand how people are likely to react after a stroke, for instance by looking at how they responded to previous psychological health problems, we can perhaps find better ways of managing the associated depression. ”The researchers also found that patients with persistent depression after a stroke were most likely to have had psychological health problems in the past. The research was funded by The Stroke Association and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Research and Development programme.

New role for Ross ROSS Andrews has joined seating for disabled children and adults specialists Specialised Orthotic Services as product demonstrator and sales executive. The new position in the marketing team has been created in response to increased interest in and demand for products such as the popular ‘P’ Pod – a supportive seat bean bag for children. Ross said: “My remit is to take our products direct to occupational therapists and explain to them the range of equipment we offer, how and why they were developed as

well as the health benefits to their clients and service users. “We recognise that OTs’ time is precious and they aren’t always able to attend exhibitions and shows. This way we go direct to them. There’s an added benefit to seeing something demonstrated first hand, being able to try it and see it in action.” Ross previously worked for a supplier of rehabilitation aids and equipment in Nottingham as sales manager looking after trade and NHS accounts.

Olivia recognised for charity work AMPUTEE Olivia Giles has received an OBE for services to charity after bringing relief and support to thousands of others who have lost a limb. A former partner in an Edinburgh legal firm, she was struck down by 10

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meningitis aged 36. Both her arms and legs were amputated in a bid to stop the spread of the disease. Olivia now concentrates on her charity 500 Miles, started in 2008, which supports amputees in Malawi and Zambia.


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A lateral wedge developed at Salford University could save the NHS thousands of pounds, it has been claimed. Dominic Musgrave found out more.

Lateral wedge proves the preferred choice in patient trials LATERAL Wedge Technology is the result of more than five years of research by the team at University spin-off company Salford Insole, and will offer pain relief to arthritis sufferers.

“There is some evidence of the effectiveness of physiotherapy and knee braces in cases of knee OA, but these are costly to the NHS and can be time consuming for patients.

And Richard Jones, who has pioneered the product through his doctoral work and collaborations with colleagues in orthopaedics across the North West, told Assistive Technologies it could be a much cheaper alternative to knee braces, which cost more than £200.

“Knee braces often have poor levels of compliance and, while physiotherapy can help knee muscle development, it is common for more than eight physio sessions to be required.”

He added: “All too often use of analgesics is the first option for patients, often suggested by GPs. However, this only exacerbates the mechanical problem at the knee because without pain sufferers walk faster and further, increasing the damaging loads on their knees. So, providing pain relief does not address the mechanical cause of the knee pain.

As an alternative approach, Richard and colleagues wanted to build on emerging orthopaedic evidence indicating that a lateral wedge under the foot can help reduce the varus forces at the knee. Previous research has shown this is directly linked to the loading on the medial compartment of the knee (the forces that cause the arthritis) and that reducing this force reduces pain. Richard added: “Lateral wedges are

most often manufactured as a custom foot orthosis prescription which can be expensive in terms of clinician time, and can necessitate a return visit by patients for fitting. “The simplest solution is use of a piece of EVA wedge material under the foot, but the fit into different footwear can be problematic. “Another issue is that by pronating the foot with a lateral wedge many clinicians are concerned about causing foot problems associated with foot pronation.” During Richard’s PhD he worked with podiatry lecturer Phil Laxton to build the lateral wedge onto a prefabricated anti-pronation insole. The concept was to have a lateral wedge to correct the forces at the knee, but to build the wedge onto an anti pronation orthosis to support the arches of the foot. The research involved 28 people with mild to moderate OA of the

medial knee and compared the lateral. Patients wore the insole for two hours more than the brace each day and, at the end of the six-week trial 26 of the 28 subjects chose the insole over the knee brace, with two choosing to use both. “To make sure the proven orthosis design gets into the hands of clinicians and into the footwear of patients, the lateral wedge insole has now been converted into a single piece orthosis,” added Richard. “This requires no additions and can be fitted directly into footwear at the first visit. It offers a massive cost saving to the NHS against the cost of a knee brace or multiple sessions of physiotherapy.” Richard is continuing the research through a major research programme sponsored by Arthritis Research UK.

Mexican visitors attend Kidz South

Representatives from the Mexican Disabled Children’s Trust and Insituto Nuevo Amanecer visit the Specialised Orthotic Services stand at Kidz South.

SPECIALISED Orthotic Services welcomed some special visitors to its stand at Kidz South. Members of the company’s nominated charity Mexican Disabled Children’s Trust (MeDiCT) and guests from Insituto Nuevo Amanecer (INA), a charitable institute in Mexico that MeDiCT supports, where disabled children are treated and educated, attended the annual exhibition. The team from Mexico were in the UK for training, and attended Kidz South to meet the team to thank them for their support and to see the latest innovations available for disabled children. Managing director Gordon McQuilton and other SOS employees have visited Mexico over the last three years to work with the UK-based charity MeDiCT, which helps

Mexican children with cerebral palsy. SOS appeals for wheelchairs and seating equipment which is no longer used and helps fund the shipment of a container to Mexico. In addition, Gordon and his team also donate their time and expertise on an annual visit to help assess the children’s complex seating needs, and ensure the donated equipment benefits them. SOS also showcased its popular ‘P’ Pod and ‘T’ Max on its stand. The ‘P’ Pod is a beanbag with a special seat attached which helps support a child or young adult in a beneficial seating position. ‘The T’ Max is a moulded seat which helps children that cannot use conventional toilet equipment as well as being a showering aid.

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Right: Anthony with the team at Leeds Teaching Hospital and, left: the scanner used to create the new limbs

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Team saves the day for Anthony A FORMER Paralympian who had his artificial legs stolen has been able to walk his sister down the aisle thanks to a hospital team and prosthetics company. Anthony Booth, who lost his legs when he was nine, had been practising for four months to walk without sticks to give away his sister Angela at her wedding. But a fortnight before her big day his wheelchair and prosthetic legs were stolen, along with his car, and the day before the wedding he made a national television appeal for their return. The former wheelchair ice-hockey athlete had already been in contact

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with his local prosthetics provider to try and get some replacement limbs after the robbery, but was told that they could do the preliminary casting for the new legs, but they would not have been ready in time for the wedding. Rehabilitation services manager Nancy Rhodes, who manages the Seacroft Rehabilitation Centre, saw the appeal and requested RSLSteeper branch manager Steven Carter to offer help. Anthony was invited to the Leeds teaching hospital site at Seacroft Hospital, where RSLSteeper provided the clinical input. Steven said: “We are probably the

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only company in the UK who were able to provide a replacement pair of limbs for Anthony in such a short time frame. “This would not be possible with conventional manufacturing techniques, but thanks to the leading edge CADCAM system that RSLSteeper has invested in and a great effort from everyone involved, we made it happen.” Anthony arrived at the centre at 3pm and, at 4pm, RSLSteeper used its Biosculptor CADCAM scanner to collect digital data from the patient’s limbs. Half-an-hour later the data was passed through to the BioMill for

manufacture, with each limb taking just 25 minutes to be carved. By 5.45pm the fitting process began and, shortly afterwards, he was taking his first steps on the new limbs. The whole process was finished by 8pm. Anthony said the team “went above their call of duty”. He added: “They stayed for an extra five hours on Friday night to make sure I was fitted with a new pair of legs. I had given up hope before I got the phone call on Friday morning. I had assumed I would have to use a wheelchair I have borrowed instead of walking my sister down the aisle on her special day.”


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Workshop gives disabled children chance to talk with leading designers By Dominic Musgrave

disabilities and wider groups.

CHILDREN with disabilities and their carers have been given the opportunity to take part in a Dragons’ Den-style workshop with leading designers.

The overall aim of the project is to design a chair that allows children to confidently leave hospital environments and be able to get out and about safely and more independently.

Hosted by Devices for Dignity (D4D), Healthcare Technology Cooperative and industrial design consultancy Frazer-Nash Consultancy, the workshop’s aim was to give children and carers the chance to talk about the problems that affect their daily lives and highlighting how these are not currently addressed by existing technologies. Held in conjunction with children’s charity Whizz-Kidz, four designs were presented to the group, with the aim of the choosing one overall concept that caters for all their needs and provides care, quality of life and independence for thousands of children across the UK, including children with severe

While the designs incorporate the most complex equipment needs such as catering for ventilators and oxygen cylinders, they also have a wider generic appeal as well. Another feature of the designs was its ability to adapt with the changing size of a child; encompassing a range of frames and seat options that accommodate growing children. Wheelchair user Leanna Horne said: “People don’t usually ask us what we want and need but by working together we can ensure children in the future get better wheelchairs than the ones I had when I was growing up. “There isn’t a clinical need for

wheelchairs to be fashionable, but as you get older you want to make sure you fit into society and that your disability isn’t any more obvious than it needs to be. If you have a slim-line chair with character, it’s easier to get around and makes you feel more integrated into society.” Over the last year the team have worked closely with paediatric consultants from Great Ormond Street Hospital and Sheffield Children’s Hospital, occupational therapists, engineers and clinical scientists to design a new transport system that caters for the children’s everyday needs. D4D, which is hosted by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Frazer Nash commissioned a series of on-line surveys, user and carer focus groups to find out exactly what it is needed and how this can be in incorporated into the new designs – these were hosted by Whizz Kidz.

Roadshow ready to roll into Edinburgh MOBILITY Roadshow Scotland returns to Edinburgh for two days in September. The fourth Mobility Roadshow to be held in Scotland, it brings together on one site the widest choice of mobility, healthcare and rehabilitation products, services and information for disabled and older people throughout Scotland and the north of England. Already there is a good line up of exhibitors from all mobility sectors showcasing their latest innovations and models – motor manufacturers; conversion and adaptation specialists; motoring accessories suppliers; wheelchair, scooter, bike and trike companies; independent living products for the home; as well as organisations offering information and advice on all aspects of mobility. Visitors can try and assess hundreds of wheelchairs, scooters and mobility cycles for comfort and safety – from high-end power chairs to lightweight portable models. Always a popular attraction at this event, the Sports Arena will again be buzzing with activity. Mobility Roadshow Scotland takes place at the Royal Highland Centre on September 17 and 18.

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Ben’s shopping trolley gadget speaks for itself By Dominic Musgrave A PRODUCT design student has made a talking gadget for supermarket trolleys to help the millions of elderly and visually impaired people who find shopping difficult. Ben Charles, who graduated with a First, designed the wireless device for his final project on his University of Portsmouth BSc in Computer Aided Product Design course. The device is attached to the trolley's handle and when a shopper scans a product, it displays product information and price in large type and says the price aloud. According to his research, three quarters of the UK's 13 million pensioners find it difficult to read prices and product information in supermarkets.

Ben said: “I wanted to design a device that makes it easier for the elderly and visually impaired to shop in supermarkets. “Many of them face huge hurdles in trying to read product information, such as if a product contains nuts or if it is high in fat, and many can't read the price labels. “I carried out lots of market research and it was clear that millions of people find it really hard, or impossible, to know what they are buying and at what price. These people are not disabled, but they are socially handicapped.” The rechargeable device has an adjustable, tilting screen and three large buttons embossed with braille for displaying price and product information, triggering a quiet alarm at customer service desks if help is required and a third for

Student Roger helps Nepalese leprosy victim A NEPALESE woman who lost her hand to leprosy has had a new limb fitted with help from a Strathclyde University student. Roger Hamlet, who is in his second year at the University's National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics, flew to Nepal to work at the Anandaban Leprosy Hospital during his summer break. When the staff there heard he was coming, they asked for help to find an artificial hand for 22-year-old leprosy patient, Belly Thapa, who has lost her left hand at the wrist. Roger said: “It’s not uncommon for leprosy patients to lose their hands or feet. The disease affects the nerve-endings, leading to loss of sensation. “When you feel no pain, it is very easy to seriously injure yourself, without even knowing it. Women often burn themselves while cooking, and even a tiny piece of grit in a shoe can lead to terrible foot ulcers." Linda Todd, director of the Leprosy Mission Scotland, which supports Anandaban Hospital and sponsored Roger's trip, added: “In Nepal, the stigma associated with leprosy and 14

Roger Hamlet

with disability can be just as damaging as the disease itself. “Belly may be ostracised by her family, she may never be able to marry, and she may not be able to support herself financially. “But The Leprosy Mission Scotland works to rehabilitate people like Belly – to help them find work, and recover their sense of their own worth.”

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Ben Charles

keeping a running total of the cost of the shopping. It also gives clear visual and audible warnings if a product contains any common allergens, such as gluten and nuts. The design was developed to be manufactured through the injection moulding process, and a scaled prototype was made for the product launch. Ben now hopes a supermarket will buy the device. His project tutor John Bishop said: “Ben identified a problem, did

market research, designed the finished article and made a prototype all to an exceptionally high standard. “The result is not just an excellent academic grade, but also an idea that could be used in the near future in our supermarkets.” Ben was awarded the University's project prize sponsored by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and ImechE Best Student prize.

Kat named a Live-WIRE winner A DE Montfort University graduate has been named one of Shell LiveWIRE’s Grand Ideas Award-winners for a revolutionary innovation which could change the lives of people with mental and physical disabilities. Kat Pattison started the company Sonodrome with her partner Jim Frize after they both graduated from the Leicester university in 2009 with degrees in Music, Technology and Innovation. The new technology is a bio-signal Interface which works through a small circuit board that is connected to a PC through a USB cable. It uses electrical signals from the body (the ‘bio’ part of the product) to control a computer programme, and means it has a number of uses from the healthcare industry to immersive gaming. The breakthrough netted the pair £1,000 to help develop the business, which is based in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear. Kat said: “The innovation is a piece

of hardware which works alongside open source software, meaning anyone can write any programme which can then be shared with others through an online community. “Because the freedom of programming is given to the community, the applications developed will only be restricted by the user's imagination. “Anything that requires the use of bio-signals, such as those of the brain, heart and muscles for example, can be implemented – think music creation and immersive gaming, to a brain operated navigation system for the disabled. “This is why we anticipate the new technology will have a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives and, as we are now seeking investment, the award funding will help with the development of our brand and website and will allow us to make some significant steps towards business growth.”

Tackling Osteoarthritis in Sport ARTHRITIS Research UK and the Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine (ISEM) are holding a conference to investigate the prevention and management of osteoarthritis following sport or exercise. International speakers presenting at Tackling Osteoarthritis in Sport on October 21 and 22 include Dr J Richard Steadman, renowned for his

knee surgery and rehabilitation work with elite sportspeople and Switzerland based Jiri Dvorak, chief medical officer to FIFA. It will be hosted by professor Alan Silman of Arthritis Research UK and professor David Patterson of ISEM. The conference has been awarded 10 CPD credits by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (UK).


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A quadruple amputee is aiming to become the first to scale the world’s highest free-standing mountain. Dominic Musgrave found out more.

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Quadruple amputee to tackle Kilimanjaro RAY Edwards is part of a team of friends and fellow amputees who plan to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for his recently formed Limbcare charity. The 56-year-old from Sandhurst, who had to have his arms and legs amputated after developing blood poisoning following radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s Disease in 1987, also hopes the challenge will help raise awareness of amputees. The former chief executive of the Limbless Association told Assistive Technologies the idea came following a boozy night with his friend Stan Hetherington, who reached the summit six years ago and is also part of the team. He added: “After a few bottles of wine Stan suggested going for a walk ... up a mountain called Kilimanjaro and, because my brain wasn’t fully engaged, I agreed. “The following day I thought to myself what have I done, but I’m now really looking forward to it. I’m fully aware that it is going to be quite hard for someone without any limbs – but I’m not one to shy away

from a challenge and all I can think about is getting to the top. “There are four other amputees, most of whom have lost a leg, and another person who is going to be walking on crutches because she has a bad foot. It is really going to test our strength of character.” With the aid of three prosthetic and one hi-tech I-limb, Ray has previously completed the Wokingham Bikeathon and piloted a plane. He has had some legs specially designed for the expedition, and says he is taking spare limbs with him. “It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare because I cannot really look after myself, and there are certain tasks that I cannot do. But we will all be helping each other and working together as a team to make sure we all get to the top. “I am going to be a bit of a walking Meccano set with all of my spare bits and pieces, but it is going to be so rewarding seeing other people doing this, and it is without doubt the hardest challenge of my life. “We have been busy walking the Brecon Beacons and Surrey Hills in

preparation, and I am planning to spend some time in Lanzarote training in warmer weather, although nothing can prepare you for how you will feel at altitude.” Physiotherapists and doctors are also part of the team for the trip, which has been organised by Charity Challenge. It will take between seven and nine days to complete, and hopes to raise approximately £100,000 for charity. Ahead of the trip they hope to visit an amputee centre in Tanzania. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/rayskilimanjaro challenge

Ray Edwards

The team which plans to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro

Extension work underway

Gordon McQuilton and operations director Andy Elson oversee the new build taking shape

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WORK has begun on an orthotics company’s new two-storey extension at its Staffordshire base to help fulfil its four-week ‘from commission to delivery’ commitment. The ground floor of Specialised Orthotic Services’ new build will be home to a series of demonstration rooms showing its range of products to commissioners and users. There will also be a school room, bedroom, living room and bathroom to allow the products to be seen in action. Managing director Gordon McQuilton said: “Due to the success

of new innovations and our continuous product development we need both more space and more staff. This added extension to the existing building will allow us to host open days for teams of occupational therapists and wheelchair services to really showcase our products. They’ll be able to see the products in action and the benefits they can bring.” Other departments such as upholstery, sales and marketing, customer services, and technical and planning teams will also be moved into the new extension when it is completed in October.


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Simon Hawkins receives his award from Bruce Forsyth and Barry Cryer

Dr David Henderson Slater

Amputation study looks at brain changes By Dominic Musgrave OXFORD researchers are working on a new study that hopes to shed light on how the brain adapts following hand amputation. Representatives from the Oxford Centre for Enablement (OCE) based at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, are working with colleagues from Oxford University to look at what happens to this part of the brain when a hand or arm is missing. The study will involve using the latest technology in MRI scanning to examine changes in the brain following amputation of a hand or arm. Dr David Henderson Slater, rehabilitation consultant at the OCE, is the leading clinical investigator on the study. He said: “We are particularly interested in the relationship between brain re-organisation and phantom limb sensation or pain following amputation. “Phantom limb pain is pain perceived to be arising from the amputated limb; it can be difficult to control or predict when it will strike and can be very debilitating.” Amputees taking part in the study will have scans taken of their brains while responding to different types of stimulation, such as being pinched.

Scans will be undertaken at the University’s Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain where high performance scanners are able to provide high quality images at much higher resolution and speed to capture greater detail of brain activity.

Simon wins award in a blaze of glory A BROMSGROVE firefighter who defied the odds to return to work despite having his lower-left leg amputated after a motorcycle accident in 2004 has won an award. Simon Hawkins was named Firefighter of the Year after being short-listed as one of just five firefighters from across the country to be considered for the honour at the 2010 Spirit of Fire Awards. Simon, who was presented with his award by TV legends Bruce Forsyth and Barry Cryer, said: “I can’t quite

believe it – I’m astounded and I thought everyone was great.” After his leg was amputated he thought he would never walk again, but five months after his accident returned to work in a non operational role involving community fire safety and administrative duties. A year after the accident, Simon began his attempt to return to work fully, and in February 2006 he achieved his dream of becoming the first fully-fledged serving firefighter with a prosthetic limb in Europe.

It is hoped the study will lead to better rehabilitation techniques and better treatment of phantom limb pain. The three-year study is being led by Dr Tamar Makin of the University’s Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain. She added: “Specific parts of the brain control different parts of the body. Our research will test what happens to parts of the brain controlling the arm and hand when the limb is missing. “We are also interested to learn how the representation of the hand in the brain of intact participants is shaped by sensory and motor skills and learning.” Groups of non-amputees and those with congenital limb deficiency will also be invited to take part in the study in order to compare the organisation of their brains with those of amputees. The aim is to increase understanding of the brain’s ability to re-organise itself by forming new neural connections in response to situations such as limb amputation or nervous system injury.

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Professor John Goodacre, Dr James Selfe and professor Lik-Kwan Shark

Soundwaves used to detect osteoarthritis By Dominic Musgrave RESEARCHERS have moved a step closer to producing a new device for GPs to detect osteoarthritis and monitor its progression by listening to the noises emitted by their knees. Laura Steed

Newly-trained physio heads for Uganda A PHYSIOTHERAPIST who recently graduated plans to volunteer at a rural hospital in Uganda for two months. Laura Steed, who studied at the University of East Anglia, will join two other full-time physiotherapists at Kiwoko hospital, which serves 500,000 residents. The physiotherapy department helps increase the mobility of patients suffering from the after-effect of illnesses such as AIDS/HIV, TB or meningitis. Laura raised the majority of the money needed for the Ugandan placement through part-time work as a carer, but was also awarded a small grant from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

She said: “When I heard about the possibility of doing voluntary work in Uganda, I jumped at the chance and I am really looking forward to joining the team at Kiwoko. “It will be a fantastic experience to work with such a variety of patients including in general medical and surgical wards as well as paediatrics and intensive care in conditions which will be very different from what I am used to. “But our course has encouraged us to think and work flexibly and creatively – so hopefully I’ll be putting as much into the team’s work as I hope to gain from the experience.”

A team at Lancaster University and University of Central Lancashire, led by professor John Goodacre and professor Lik-Kwan Shark, have found that a technique called acoustic emission – routinely used in the engineering industry to detect unsafe buildings and bridges – can also be used to pinpoint joint degeneration. A two-year study involving 50 people showed that the soundwaves made by the knees of healthy people were different to those with osteoarthritis of the knee. John, head of postgraduate medicine at Lancaster’s new School of Health and Medicine, and an honorary consultant rheumatologist at Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We found that by measuring and analysing high frequency sounds released within knee joints during movement we could tell whether or not the person had osteoarthritis of the knee, and also their age group.” He added that the research, funded by Arthritis Research UK, provided an excellent basis for the development

of a small, portable piece of equipment which could be used easily by GPs, hospital doctors and nurses to assess patients with knee osteoarthritis regularly to see whether the knee is changing or responding to treatment. However, there were still questions around the power of the testing method and whether it could detect more subtle changes. In the study, microphones were attached to the knees of patients and healthy controls, and the noises emanating from their knees were measured as they stood up from a sitting position five times. John said he is now keen to develop the work further by testing and validating the equipment on larger numbers of people, and is currently designing the next phase of the work which he hopes will involve GP surgeries and orthopaedic and rheumatology departments around the country. He added: “At the moment it’s looking very optimistic, and I can envisage that this device could be used as both an early diagnostic tool for GPs, and potentially as a quick, simple means of detecting the progression of osteoarthritis, reducing the need for MRI or other expensive, and less accessible techniques.”

Masseur Sylvan swaps Simply Red for the Reds LIVERPOOL Football Club have given themselves the best possible chance of hitting the right notes on the field this season by employing the original lead guitarist from Simply Red. 18

Part-time masseur Sylvan Richardson, who was in the band for two years and recorded two albums, has joined up with the club's new-look medical team at Melwood.

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Sylvan said: “To work for Liverpool is a great honour and when I got the call I was really excited. “My role is to prepare the players and deal with their recovery after

training. “I am used to working with top athletes and so am very much looking forward to this opportunity.”


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Bone growth study goes hi-tech using young footballers YOUNG footballers in Tayside and Fife will have their movements captured using the same kind of hi-tech motion analysis that is used to represent the likes of Wayne Rooney and Tiger Woods in computer games. Researchers at the University of Dundee are looking for the footballers to contribute to a project investigating the effects of intensive football training on bone growth. As part of the project, volunteers will be asked to visit the Institute of Motion Analysis and Research (IMAR) at the University, where hi-tech motion analysis cameras will be used to capture their movements in 3D. Professor Rami Abboud, director of IMAR, said: “Although football is a major global sport, there is a significant weakness in the scientific literature as to whether targeted exercise training and many hours of practice are actually beneficial to growing individuals. “The limited knowledge is extremely worrying with respect to the short and longterm welfare of young footballers, as well as society as a whole due to the ever

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increasing focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle in order to tackle childhood obesity. “Understanding the long-term growth and development of individuals could significantly influence school curricular activities and professional training regime policies, therefore this research has the potential to improve the overall health of our future society.” The new research project is a joint one between IMAR and another of the University's internationally renowned centres, the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID), which recently featured in the major BBC2 series 'History Cold Case'. The combination of IMAR’s expertise in motion analysis and biomechanical and musculoskeletal medicine, and CAHID’s excellence in osteological and anatomical research will generate an invaluable source of evidential research, helping to bridge the gap in scientific knowledge. Researchers are looking for 12 to 14-yearold footballers to help with the project, and need around 20 volunteers.

Honorary degree for Dame Tanni ONE of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes and the founder of a portable text-tospeech communication aid have been awarded honorary degrees by the University of Bath. Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, pictured above, who won 11 gold medals, three silver and one bronze over 16 years and five Paralympic Games, received her Doctor of Laws at a ceremony recently. She is patron of the British Paralympic Association and is currently promoting a new initiative to boost the green credentials of Paralympics GB, the UK Paralympics Team for 2012, which has its training base at the University. And Toby Churchill, who was

a student at Bath in 1965, received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree at a private ceremony. During a two-month work placement in Paris and Clermond Ferrand in 1968 he contracted viral encephalitis after swimming in a river, which resulted in him becoming paraplegic with a speech disability. He completed his degree from home and graduated in 1971. As communication aids at the time were few and far between Toby designed his own, the Lightwriters, which changed the lives of people with speech loss. His inventions later earned him many awards.

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Roadshow ‘one of the most successful in event’s history’ NEWS

By Dominic Musgrave AMONG the innovative products for young people on show at the annual Mobility Roadshow were wheelchairs that adapt to fit as a child grows. And among the new features on offer this year was Sensory Corner, a therapeutic room and soft play area that was fun, stimulating and safe for children with special needs. Also launched this year was Cyclefest, which focused on special needs cycling options from tiny trikes to companion, passenger, tandem and wheelchair cycling, with specialist advice and assessment available to assist visitor choice. New products included a new mountain bike for wheelchair users. Jacqui Jones, executive director of Mobility Choice, the charity that organises the event, said: “The new venue, ideal weather and a wealth of mobility innovation, as well as classic mobility solutions for visitors to test drive, try out and compare – from 160 exhibitors – delivered one of the most successful events in our 27 year history.”

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National Young Disabled Persons’ Day was celebrated with the announcement of the winners of the sixth national Ready Willing and Mobile competition that calls for bright ideas from school children to help young disabled people. Holly Moggridge, a student at Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School in Upminster, was named the overall winner, having won the 12 to 16 year age category. Her winning entry was an iPod hearing aid device designed to eliminate the embarrassment felt by many deaf or partially deaf children who have to wear a traditional hearing aid. The runner-up was Morgan Coy, a pupil at Perry Hall Primary School in Bromley and winner of the seven to 11 age category. Her Crawling Caterpillars’ adventure trail entry was designed to help young disabled wheelchair users to enjoy all the activities of a trail, together with their non-disabled friends.

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Ready Willing and Mobile competition winner Holly Moggridge receives her award from actor David Proud

The wider selection of sports to try this year offered the opportunity to join in, gain fitness advice and contacts for getting involved when visitors returned home. The action included wheelchair rugby and rugby league, basketball, sledge

hockey and wheelchair dancing, with the Red Wheelies scooter formation team also doing a demonstration. The Mobility Roadshow moves to The Royal Highland Centre near Edinburgh Airport on September 17 and 18.


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Study gives hip hope to athletes By Dominic Musgrave A STUDY led by American orthopedic experts has found that minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to treat hip disorders may give athletes the opportunity to resume their sport back at their pre-injury level of competition. The researchers at Rush Medical Center found that 78 per cent of athletes suffering from hip labral tear caused by internal ball and socket joint damage to the hip were able to return to their sport within an average of a little more than nine months following a hip arthroscopy.

Research should lead to boost for replacements AN international research centre has been set up by UK and German scientists to lead the development of a machine which pumps out power pulses with the same intensity as a lightning bolt. Sheffield Hallam University has established a HIPIMS Research Centre with German research institute Fraunhofer IST to lead the global development of the physical vapour deposition (PVD) process – which is revolutionising high tech industry by improving the quality of a wide range of applications including biomedical implants. Sheffield Hallam, which pioneered HIPIMS – High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering – in 2001, launched the new research centre at a recent conference. Dr Arutiun Ehiasarian, director of the HIPIMS Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam, said: “Sheffield Hallam and Fraunhofer are the pioneers in HIPIMS and this new centre will help to implement this process in industry across the world.

“By establishing a common philosophy and working processes, we can explore the full potential of HIPIMS in developing coatings applications for the aerospace and automotive industries, as well as functional coatings and microelectronics research.” The HIPIMS process can help in the manufacture of a range of products including knee joints by pumping out an eight mega watt of electrical impulses that create a plasma to improve coatings. Professor Günter Bräuer, director of Fraunhofer IST said: “Joining up resources from Sheffield Hallam and Fraunhofer IST creates a worldwide unique Competence Centre for innovative sputter processes.” Professor Mike Smith, pro vice chancellor for research and knowledge transfer at Sheffield Hallam, added: “This leap forward will help lead to replacement knee and hip joints becoming longerlasting, and to jet engines performing at a higher temperature and with greater efficiency.”

And 90 per cent were capable of competing at the same level as they had prior to their initial hip impairment. All 47 patients involved in the study were diagnosed with femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), a condition that occurs when the femoral head of the thigh bone rubs abnormally against the acetabulum, or cup-like socket of the hip joint. This rubbing results in damage to the rim of the hip socket as well as the cartilage that covers the hip bones.

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Study lead investigator Dr Shane J. Nho, a sports medicine and hip arthroscopy expert at the university, said: “Arthroscopic hip surgery is an outpatient procedure that can decrease soft tissue trauma and decrease blood loss, leading to a faster recovery period compared to a more invasive open surgery. “Some people may be genetically inclined to develop FAI, but many athletes experience early on-set of symptoms of FAI because of their athletic activities require a high degree of motion and force through the joint. “Symptoms of FAI symptoms include pain, limited range of motion, and for athletes, loss of the ability to compete at their top level.” Hip arthroscopy is a less invasive outpatient procedure compared to traditional open hip surgery. It is performed by an orthopedic surgeon who makes small incisions about one centimetre each that permits the insertion of a tiny camera in order to visualise the inside of a joint. Small surgical instruments are then used through the incisions to make the repairs.

Company’s achievements marked in Queen’s Awards SENIOR staff from prosthetic limb manufacturer Chas A Blatchford and Sons attended an evening reception hosted by The Queen and Prince Philip for businesses that have won Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. The company was being honoured for its outstanding commercial achievements in International Trade, Innovation or Sustainable Development. It is the fourth time that Blatchford’s has won a Queen’s Award, on this occasion for innovation. Chief executive officer Stephen Blatchford said: “We are especially honoured to have been awarded our fourth Queen’s Award in this particular year, since it is also the

120th anniversary of the founding of the company by my great grandfather. “The ceremony, kindly hosted by The Queen and Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace, was a proud moment in which to join in a celebration of British enterprise.” Blatchford’s won the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its continuous development of artificial feet. Having pioneered the use of carbon-fibre composite materials for prosthetics, the company incorporated it into its range of artificial feet, making it possible to manufacture a foot and lower leg which are suitable for both extended walking and for sporting activities.

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NEWS

Seminars announced for Naidex A COMPREHENSIVE CPD seminar programme is being launched for healthcare professionals at Naidex South in September. The programme, designed to appeal to all who need to demonstrate that they are keeping abreast of new knowledge, techniques and developments relating to their professions, has been developed by occupational therapist Kate Sheehan. Topics include ‘CPD audits’, ‘Making Houses Comfortable’, ‘Understanding the Disabled Facilities Grant’ and Age UK’s seminar on “Prevention in later life – is it worth it?”. Event director Liz Virgo said: “Over the years, Naidex has built up an unrivalled reputation for offering healthcare professionals the opportunity to enhance their CPD portfolio with informative and well structured seminar programmes. “In addition to the programme, those attending Naidex South will be able to network with fellow industry professionals in a professional environment, while also enjoying the opportunity to see and compare the latest products from many of the UK's leading disability and healthcare manufacturers.” Its co-location with Primary Care Live will also provide additional opportunities for career and knowledge progression. Naidex South will also feature a Lifestyle Seminar Theatre, where visitors can view practical product demonstrations and hear inspirational speakers; the KideQuip area, which is dedicated to children’s equipment and services; a Communication Village, featuring the latest in assistive technology, as well as hundreds of products to aid independent living. Entry for the event at ExCel, London on September 29 and 30 is free, with further CPD-accredited seminars available on topics including wound care, care for older people, mental health and palliative and end-of-life care.

£1.8m trials aim to cut osteoarthritis pain by Dominic Musgrave RESEARCHERS at the universities of Manchester and Salford are to carry out a series of clinical trials in 300 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. The £1.8m study, funded by medical research charity Arthritis Research UK, will take five years and aims to reduce the pain experienced by patients and improve their disability. Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that causes progressive breakdown of articular cartilage and bone, leading to joint failure. Treatment options are limited to painkillers and ultimately jointreplacement surgery.

David Felson

The Manchester and Salford teams, led by world-renowned osteoarthritis expert David Felson, an honorary professor at Manchester, plan to take a new approach to treating the condition.

will have a significant impact on the way this common joint condition is treated and will result in practical, effective treatment for the six million people affected by this debilitating condition in the UK.”

He said: “Unlike many researchers who believe that repairing cartilage is the most important aspect of treating osteoarthritis successfully, we believe treatments targeting the underlying causes, such as correcting patients’ gait and posture, may be more effective in relieving pain.

To test this theory, the multidisciplinary research team will study the effectiveness of three types of treatment on groups of local people: special shoes and insoles, knee braces and steroid injections. They will use the latest imaging techniques and sophisticated computer tools to measure outcomes.

“We believe this new approach

Fellow researcher Dr Michael

Callaghan added: “We hope these trials will make a real difference to the vast number of people suffering from painful knee osteoarthritis. “We think these treatments will be attractive options to GPs, who often have little practical advice to offer osteoarthritis patients, other than weight loss, analgesia and exercise.” People will be recruited from Manchester and Salford and will attend sessions at either the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility in Manchester, Salford University Gait Laboratory or Salford Royal Hospital.

New CAD system is launched PRECISION 3D has launched the first CAD system to fully utilise the full colour 3D data created by its FotoScan scanners.

can also transform the 3D foot directly into a shoe last by adding a toe shape and heel pitch to the scan.

FootMILL allows its operators to import a 3D foot scan in full colour and quickly adapt any standard last to fit the foot.

Steve Robinson said: “For insole design, you can use 3D colour scans from any of our scanners and instantly map the plantar surface onto a standard insole.

And, unlike any similar systems, for more extreme orthopaedic lasts you

“Then you can use a range of tools to modify the shape to meet any

corrective requirements. In all cases, the finished orthotics can be exported to standard 3D file formats for use with pattern engineering systems and a wide range of CNC milling machines. “It's simplicity of operation makes it possible for users of all levels of ability to rapidly create accurate lasts and insoles based on 3D scans.”

UK’s first female professor of orthopaedics

Brigitte Scammell

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A SURGEON at the University of Nottingham has become the UK’s first female professor of orthopaedics. Brigitte Scammell, head of the division of orthopaedic and accident surgery in the School of Clinical Sciences at the Queen’s Medical Centre is among 20 new professors in the research and teaching promotions for 2010. She said: “It is a great honour to have been promoted and an

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2010

absolutely amazing feeling to be the first ‘lady’ professor of orthopaedics in the UK. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my colleagues and the enthusiasm of my students when they have learned a new skill. “I am very excited about the new challenges that being a professor will bring and I hope that I will inspire other women to follow academic and surgical careers and enjoy their work as much as I do.”

Professor Scammell now specialises in elective orthopaedics – the majority of her patients suffer from degenerative diseases of the knee, feet and ankles. Their problems can stem from pain and deformities caused by arthritis and problems associated with diabetes. With funding from the Medical Research Council and Arthritis Research UK, her main research interests focus on the biology of bone healing and osteoarthritis.


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Assistive Technologies (Aug/Sept 2010)