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INNOVATION FOR INDEPENDENCE

ISSUE 64 December 08/January 09 £6.95

Researchers in synthetic bone advancement By Dominic Musgrave A METHOD of producing synthetic bone is being developed by researchers at the University of Warwick. The team is now working closely with Warwick Ventures, the University’s technology transfer office, to find a suitable partner to help commercialise the technology. Dr Kajal Mallick is developing the idea, using techniques normally used to make catalytic converters for cars, along with his postgraduate researcher James Meredith. They strongly believe it could offer substantial clinical benefits to patients undergoing bone implant surgery. The technique involves state-of-the-art extrusion of the implant material through a mould, to produce a threedimensional honeycomb texture, with uniform pores throughout. The material can then be sculpted by the surgeon to precisely match the defect. After implantation bone cells will be transported into the implant and begin to form new bone.

"We worked with a Japanese company which manufactures catalytic converters and used their facility to produce samples which we could then test in the laboratory," said Kajal. "We found that we were able to use calcium phosphates – a family of bioceramics that are routinely used in bone implant operations, but by using this technique we were able to improve significantly both the strength and porosity of the implant." The increased strength of the material means it could be used in spinal surgery, or in revision hip and knee operations, where currently nondegradable materials such as titanium or steel may be used. Kajal added: "At the present time, there is no product available in the market place that satisfies both these key properties simultaneously. It is nearly an ideal scaffold structure for efficient blood flow and formation of new bone cells." The advantage of increased and interconnected porosity is that the implant can quickly be filled with blood vessels, resulting in a more rapid healing process.

The X Factor finalists including Diana Vickers (pictured above) raised more than £1million for charity with a remake of the Mariah Carey song Hero. The single was released to support the Help For Heroes and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal charities, and all money will go towards the servicemen and women injured in the line of duty. Bryn Parry, founder of Help For Heroes, said: "The money raised from the sale of

Hero will go directly to improve the lives of those who have been wounded both physically and mentally in the current conflicts.” It has sold more than half a million copies, making it the fastest selling single of 2008 and the fastest selling charity record of the decade. The song topped the charts for three weeks before being knocked off the number one spot by Beyonce.


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Celebrity photographs could boost prosthetic limb development By Dominic Musgrave PICTURES of celebrities could help the development of prosthetic limbs which are controlled by the brain. New research from Leicester University has revealed that the way the brain responds to certain images could pave the way for new treatments in epilepsy, Alzheimer's and other serious conditions. Neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga made the discovery after showing epileptic patients hundreds of pictures of famous people and landmarks.

STAFF clearing up the site of the Corkscrew ride at Alton Towers made a bizarre discovery. Along with the shoes, watches and mobile phones they found a prosthetic leg, and are appealing for its owner to get in touch Russell Barnes, divisional director at the Alton Towers Resort, said: “At the Alton Towers Resort we deal with over 5,000 items of lost property every year including several unusual finds. As the Corkscrew is the oldest rollercoaster in the park we were expecting to find some strange items but a prosthetic leg definitely tops the list as the most bizarre. If anyone has any information on the missing leg, we would be keen to hear from them.”

Contacts Editorial Andrew Harrod Group Editor editorial@assistivetechnologies.co.uk

His findings have been dubbed the ‘Jennifer Aniston neuron’ as one woman had a brain cell that only showed activity when she was looking at a picture of the former Friends star, another of Halle Berry and one of Pamela Anderson.

Dominic Musgrave Healthcare Editor Email: dm@whpl.net Tel: 01226 734407 Sales Hayley Doig Email: hd@whpl.net Tel: 01226 734412

“We can easily recognise a person in a fraction of a second, even when seen from different angles, with different sizes, colours, contrasts and under strikingly different conditions,” Rodrigo said. “But how neurons in the brain are capable of creating such an ‘abstract’ representation, disregarding basic visual details, is only starting to be known.”

Sales representative Fax: 01226 734478

Circulation circulation@wharncliffepublishing.co.uk 24 hour hotline: 01226 734695 Design/Production Judith Halkerston Group Deputy Editor Email: jhalkerston@whpl.net Stewart Holt Studio Manager Email: sth@whpl.net

As part of the treatment, tiny electrodes were implanted in the brain and they picked up electrical activity of around 100 brain cells in each person.

Sales and Marketing Director Tony Barry Email: tb@whpl.net

“One of the major scientific challenges of our days is to understand how information is represented by neurons in the brain. Although there has been spectacular progress in the last few decades, we are still far from comprehending, for example, how visual inputs are processed to create a conscious perception. “Our main research interest is to study these principles of neural coding. Moreover, since complex behaviour is encoded by the activity of large populations of neurons, we are working on the development of advanced methods to extract useful information from these data.”

Leg-endary find

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Product manager Jackie Brook Email: jb@whpl.net

Halle Berry

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of all contents, the publishers do not accept liability for any error, printed or otherwise, that may occur.

www.assistivetechnologies.co.uk

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Dozens of experts are working on the programme to create the strapand-go-arm

Search for most advanced prosthetic limbs brings very promising results By Lyndsey Smith RESEARCHERS in North America and Canada have been rewarded with “very promising results” in their search for the most advanced prosthetic limbs ever. DEKA Research and Development core along with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project’s Agency) and the University Of New Brunswick (UNB) have been working together in a bid to revolutionise the world of prosthetics. Two programmes were commissioned – the RP2007 and the RP2009 – with the first prototype

ready last year and Dr. Kevin Englehart, associate director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, UNB, admits they were impressed with what they found. He said: “Our involvement with the first project was to develop algorithms embedded in the control system. “This approach uses muscle activity to infer the desired limb motion and this was realised and tested in the first prototype with promising results.” However, despite success with RP2007 the researchers did

encounter problems on their way to the second prototype and it was decided by DEKA that this electromyogram (EMG) control was not ready so they developed an arm controlled by foot and chin switches – the strap-and-go-arm. Embedded electronics enable users to flip a switch, either with a foot or their chin, to activate the prosthesis and users can cycle through five different gripping actions to match the task at hand, whether it's using a pen, picking up a key, lifting a coffee cup, or using a power drill. The device is available in three

Orthopaedic consultant hosts placement for Goa doctor By Dominic Musgrave A SURGEON who has been demonstrating the UK’s most modern orthopaedic techniques in India has hosted a placement for an Indian doctor at Burnley General Hospital. Orthopaedic consultant Gunther Schmitgen has allowed Dr Rohit Chodanker from Goa to observe his work for the past six weeks and learn new techniques in the field of orthopaedic surgery – the branch of surgery concerned with injuries or conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. Gunther was originally invited to India to take part in a congress and to help out with a charitable organisation – the Jeevan Asha Charitable Trust - which a former Burnley clinician, Dr Prem Vachhani, founded. Over the years Gunther’s reputation as a renowned orthopaedic surgeon has grown and he has been asked to return

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“It has always been my intention to educate, train and promote better healthcare internationally and I am pleased that as a result of the visits to India, they are doing more arthroscopies and improving the management of pain,” said Gunther. “By bringing Indian doctors to Burnley I believe they can further improve their skills by getting hands-on training which he can use to benefit to the local community back in India.”

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Both programmes involve international teams of dozens of experts and Kevin admits that’s what makes this project unique. “A small university in New Brunswick is working with some of the top labs in the world, and former industrial competitors are co-operating. We’re all working towards a common goal and exchanging expertise.”

Senior physiotherapist for the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries Emma Lloyd with Rajendra Thapa observing the treatment of a patient with a spinal cord injury.

for the past several years to illustrate his modern techniques, including arthroscopic (minimally invasive) surgery mainly on knees and shoulders as well as the effective management of pain. More recently he has invited Indian doctors to come to England and witness first-hand the sorts of pioneering principals and modern techniques being used here so they may take new skills back to India.

models – one for amputees who have lost a complete arm and others for those with amputations above and below the elbow and volunteers in the test programme reported strong acceptance for the project.

Nepal physio visits spinal injury centre A SPINAL physiotherapist from Nepal spent two weeks learning about systems and procedures at the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI). In Nepal, Dr Rajendra Thapa works at the Spinal Rehabilitation Centre currently located in Kathmandu but which is moving to the new Spinal injuries Centre at Sanga Benepa. The new centre in Nepal has been modelled on MCSI and was the brainchild of a journalist and mountaineer who had an accident in 2001 and had to be treated outside of the country as there were no

sufficient facilities available. It will be funded by John Groom Overseas and others. Nepal is a landlocked country, historically a collection of many small kingdoms. Its recent history has involved struggles for democratic government with periods of direct monarchic rule. Rajendra said: “As we are a small country, we need to go abroad for specialist training. I am grateful to Mr El Masri and all the staff at the MCSI for allowing me to observe and learn from their work here in Oswestry.”


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Robot helping patients walk A robot is helping people at an American hospital learn to walk again after a stroke or disability. Dominic Musgrave found out more.

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THE KineAssist walking and balance exercise system is the first of its kind to be used in a community-based hospital setting and was recently demonstrated at Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital. A new prototype of the robot is being introduced following three years of successful clinical trials at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) to refine and fine tune its unique features and capabilities. The winner of the prestigious international Industrial Design Excellence Award applies robotic technology to help patients learn to walk forward and backwards, step sideways, climb stairs and regain the balance, strength and mobility to carry on daily activities without the fear of falling. “The KineAssist robot enhances the connection between patients and

A patient tries out the new KineAssist robot

physical therapists, freeing them for the first time from the responsibility of supporting the patient’s weight,” said Bruce Anderson, chief executive officer at the hospital. “Patients report feeling safer and more confident as they build strength and stamina.” The harness on the robot was designed by the same team that designs harnesses for Cirque du Soleil, and it can be used in a wide variety of clinical settings, down

hospital hallways, even outside. Therapists can adjust the robot’s level of resistance and other variables by touch screen, a revolutionary new level of control for therapists as they help patients progressively build strength and flexibility. The KineAssist’s computer screen also displays patient performance data for therapists and patients to measure their progress. “Through cutting-edge research

discoveries like the KineAssist, RIC is positioned to deliver the most advanced clinical treatments which help RIC to set the standards in rehabilitation care and provide patients with the best functional outcomes,” said Elliot Roth, MD, chief academic officer, RIC. “RIC is thrilled to export this technology to its longest standing alliance partner, Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital, to help patients in the northwestern suburban communities to regain ability after stroke.”

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Sensor could help amputees move limbs using their brains ENGINEERS working at Cardiff University firm MicroBridge Services have developed a micro-needle array sensor that could help amputees move artificial limbs using their brains. The XGEN consortium, a Welsh Assembly Government initiative, is looking to find how control over artificial limbs in severely disabled spinal injury patients or loss-of-limb patients can be made via direct readings of the brain. The sensor, which contains 100 tiny needles, can be fitted to specific parts of the brain responsible for movement and can relay nerve impulses straight to false limbs in order for them to respond. The engineers were contacted by Utah University to create the sensors in tungsten carbide for its bionic implant research project. The tungsten carbide is extremely tough and conducts electricity.

According to Dr Robert Hoyle, from MicroBridge Services, the results are encouraging. "The researchers in Utah have had patients controlling simple mechanical operations like gripping objects with the prosthetic limbs or operating a mouse," he said. "They came to us because we can make these needles in tungsten carbide, which is very strong and robust but extremely difficult to cut to such a small size. "The more needles you can get on a sensor in the smallest possible area, the better control a patient will get over his or her prosthetic limb.” The needles are thin enough and long enough to penetrate the brain safely to pick up signals from the brain. These signals are then amplified and transmitted to the prosthetic limbs, producing movement. Patients with the implant then learn

to move the limb by generating the correct brain signal. "The challenge for us now is to make the needles smaller so that we can pack more onto a sensor," he added.

Dr Hoyle said the researchers' long term goal was to develop a sensor which would sit on the spinal column of someone who had broken their neck or back. They could then learn how to move their limbs again.

Walking frame for children is designed TWO engineering graduates from the University of Sheffield have designed a special walking frame for children with brittle bones who are too small for normal walking aids. Barry Tan and Lim Ji Hui, designed the frame after meeting staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and hearing about the difficulties faced by children with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. Barry and Lim, who graduated from the university this summer with a masters in engineering, carried out the design project during their final year. Once the graduates had their final design they then worked with the university’s department of mechanical engineering and locally based KingKraft Ltd, who manufactured a prototype for free. "We are extremely grateful to the students, Kingkraft Ltd and the university for all the hard work they have put into this project,” said Liz Knowles, an occupational therapist at the hospital. “The walker looks fantastic and for children with brittle bone disease a frame like this is desperately needed. “Children with the disease are often of small stature and normal walking aids just aren’t suitable. This can be really frustrating for the children and their parents because when a child with the disease is learning to walk they can’t progress as quickly as they would like to." 6

Depuy's Alec Birkbeck (left) with Ryan Collins, James McMullen and Sam Poole

Product design students rewarded for their outstanding work THREE second year product design students at Huddersfield University have been awarded prizes for outstanding work from international orthopaedic company DePuy. The students were asked to take part in a ‘live’ brief with DePuy, a Johnson & Johnson company specialising in products for the treatment of musculoskeletal systems that include joint implants and trauma devices. Alec Birkbeck, DePuy’s senior industrial designer and former Huddersfield graduate got involved with the placement scheme at DePuy. Through his links at the

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

university he set up the live brief in order to sample the students’ work prior to placement interviews, which will take place later in the year.

Recovery – strategies to aid and enhance the recovery period for people who have undergone orthopaedic joint replacement.

“I was extremely impressed with the high calibre of research and development work carried out for this design competition,” said Alec. “It far surpasses the quality and detail of work that we anticipated.”

Function – a way of tailoring implants for specific purposes or sports.

The winning students – Sam Poole, Ryan Collins and James McMullen – were asked to design products around the company’s mission statement ‘Restoring the Joy of Motion’, and asked to concentrate on three main themes:

Survivorship – investigating the ways in which different factors affect the lifespan of joint implants, for example obesity, compared to a more active lifestyle. Sam was the winner of the award for research and testing, while Ryan won the award for innovation and James the award for project evolution and feedback.


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‘Knee surgery ineffective’ – study By Dominic Musgrave

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ROUTINE knee operations undergone by many patients with osteoarthritis do not relieve joint pain or improve knee function, according to research. A study at the University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute has shown that a routinely practiced knee surgery is ineffective at reducing joint pain or improving joint function for sufferers of osteoarthritis. The study appeared in a recent New England Journal of Medicine. “This study provides definitive evidence that arthroscopic surgery provides no additional therapeutic value when added to physical therapy and medication for patients with moderate osteoarthritis of the knee,” said study co-author Dr Brian Feagan, clinical trials director at the Robarts Research Institute at Western and a professor in the departments of medicine and epidemiology and biostatistics at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. Arthroscopic surgery is widely accepted as an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee. It is a minimally invasive surgical procedure involving insertion of an arthroscope and other instruments into the joint through small incisions in order

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to remove cartilage fragments and smooth the joint surfaces. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis affecting one in ten Canadians and 27 million Americans. The study was designed by the late Sandy Kirkley, an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in arthroscopic surgery. It was coordinated by the Clinical Trials Group of Robarts Research Institute and conducted by orthopaedic surgeons at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). The research team also included rheumatologists and physiotherapists. Running from 1999 to 2007, the study treated 178 London-area men and women with an average age of 60. All study participants received physical therapy as well as medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but 86 of the patients also received surgery consisting of lavage and arthroscopic debridement at LHSC. At several time intervals post-treatment the researchers found both patient groups experienced comparable improvements in joint pain, stiffness, and function, but surgery provided no additional benefit. Funding for this study was provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

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An x-ray of an osteoarthritis patient’s knee


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Programme ‘not workable in current form’

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By Dominic Musgrave THE Department of Health’s programme to Transform Community Equipment Services (TCES) is not workable in its current form according to an industry association. The scheme, which is still going through the approval process after a number of pilots, would allow elderly and disabled customers to get their assistive technology equipment on prescription from accredited retailers. These could be DIY stores or supermarkets as well as traditional independent living retailers. But the BHTA says it has a number of concerns, claiming that some of the programme is confusing. Director general Ray Hodgkinson said: “BHTA supports the objective to transform the delivery of community equipment, but the devil is in the detail and clearly there is a need to find a workable solution. “Currently the retail model does not look attractive to retailers who will struggle to recover the overhead costs they incur.” BHTA has stated in a recently launched position paper that until a clear plan is defined, discussed and cost projections are made for the Home Delivery Loan Service, it will not be possible to achieve projections of the savings that could be made. “Our evidence suggests the retail model will cost more because equipment will not be retrieved and refurbished and the DH team has yet to convince the industry that this is not the case,” added Ray. “The National Association Equipment Providers (NAEP), whose members are professionals and non professionals working in the

Ray Hodgkinson

community equipment services sector, has also indicated that a significant majority of its membership is not persuaded that the TCES model is financially robust, clinically safe and locally deliverable.” He also claimed there are discrepancies in figures being quoted by the Department of Health, which predicts the UK market being worth £240million, more than three times what the association does. Ray added: “There should be more public sector investment in community equipment services. Primary care is cheaper than secondary care and community equipment can be vital in getting people home again. Indeed, Lord Darzi has stated that the focus must shift from secondary to primary care.”

G&M welcomes new staff to team GILBERT and Mellish would like to welcome new members to their sales team. Firstly to Sheridan Kumm (07817 433 415), our new territory sales manager for south east England. Sheridan joins us with a long background in medical sales, including orthotic products. Secondly, welcome to Belinda Benfield (07917 447 062), our new sales territory manager for the South West. Belinda is new to this industry, however, has lots of sales experience and even ran her own company for a number of years.

Belinda Benfield and Andy Cooper Finally, we would like to welcome Andy Cooper (07766 514 797) as sales territory manager for the Midlands. Promoted into this role, Andy has worked at G&M for over 25 years and has a vast knowledge of orthopaedic footwear, footwear adaptations and repairs. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

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Bid to improve osteoarthritis treatment

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A TEAM of researchers at Keele University are hoping to improve the care and treatment of osteoarthritis offered by GPs in a project involving 2,000 patients. The study is being funded by a fiveyear grant of more than £788,000 from the Arthritis Research Campaign. Although osteoarthritis affects millions of older people in the UK, and is a major source of pain and disability, it is not considered a health priority by the NHS. A recent survey showed that only 29 per cent of people with osteoarthritis received appropriate care from health services, compared with 83 per cent of patients with heart disease. Dr George Peat, senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology at the Arthritis Research Campaign National Primary Care Centre at Keele, who is leading the project, said: “Our recent research has shown that almost half of people registered with GPs in North Staffordshire who have severe joint pain don’t go to their GP in the

course of a year, possibly because they think their doctor will not be able to do anything about it. “Patients will talk to their GP about their diabetes or their high blood pressure, but not their osteoarthritis or joint pain, and we want to find out what is stopping them from raising these problems with their doctor – or what is stopping the GP from asking about them.” The multi-disciplinary Keele team of more than 20 researchers – including research nurses, GPs, epidemiologists, rheumatologists, physiotherapists and scientists – plan to build up a picture of the longterm “natural history” of joint pain and osteoarthritis, and also patients’ experiences in general practice. Specially trained physiotherapists and occupational therapists will carry out examinations of patients at clinics at the Haywood Hospital in Stoke-onTrent. DNA samples will be taken, xray data collected, and patients will also be asked to complete questionnaires as part of the study.

Mobilis acquires repair company Picture: DIEM photography/University of Reading

Robot on display in Science Museum A ROBOT controlled by a biological brain developed by a team at the University of Reading is now on display in the Science Museum in London. ‘Gordon’ the robot was unveiled to a worldwide audience in the summer. The cutting edge research is the first step in examining how memories manifest themselves in the brain, and how a brain stores specific pieces of data. It is hoped that this will eventually lead to a better understanding of development and of diseases and disorders which affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, stroke and brain injury. Professor Kevin Warwick from the University's School of Systems Engineering said: "It's fantastic that the public now have the opportunity to see Gordon in all

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his glory. “The Science Museum is probably one of the world's pre-eminent science museums so we are thrilled that Gordon was asked to be displayed there. It demonstrates how tremendously exciting this new research is, which will move our understanding forward of how brains work, and could have a profound effect on many areas of science and medicine." The researchers are now working towards getting the robot to learn by applying different signals as it moves into predefined positions. It is hoped that as the learning progresses, it will be possible to witness how memories manifest themselves in the brain when the robot revisits familiar territory. Gordon will be on display in the Science Museum at least until Christmas.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

MOBILIS has acquired electrotherapy and physiotherapy equipment service and repair company SKF Services. The West Sussex business was formed more than 20 years ago by Simon Francis to service the physiotherapy market, and has since also moved into the sports injuries, osteopathy, chiropractic and animal therapy sectors. Under the deal, Simon becomes a director, operating within the company’s medical business and assuming responsibility for physiotherapy and electrotherapy

products, and the development of new business in those markets. “This acquisition can only enhance our technical service and repair provision and customer-oriented approach,” said Mobilis CEO Colin Webb. “Simon focused on service as a key business differentiator and built product sales and maintenance revenue on the back of that. He has great personal drive and energy, which will be considerable assets to the combined business, and he is highly motivated to drive Mobilis Healthcare forward.”

Japanese first for total knee system SMITH and Nephew’s Genesis II Oxinium total knee system has become the first orthopaedic product to gain the C1 category reimbursement in Japan. The C1 classification rewards innovative products with a higher reimbursement price and is reserved for those products where the advantages are recognised by the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare over other available products. Oxinium is a proprietary transformed metal alloy with a ceramic bearing surface that combines low friction and wear resistance technology with the strength of a metal implant. It is used for total hip and total knee

joint replacements. “Getting the Genesis II knee system with the Oxinium technology approved in Japan is a great opportunity for Smith and Nephew to offer a new state-of-the-art material to the Japanese patients and the surgeons who perform these procedures,” said Joseph M. DeVivo, president of Smith and Nephew Orthopaedic Reconstruction and Trauma. “We are pleased that the Ministry understood the benefits of Oxinium and we are also pleased by the reimbursement, which recognises the importance in making these types of new products available to the Japanese patient.”


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More than just footwear . . .

as more and more of our customers are finding out.! G&M are widely known as distributors of Piedro® Footwear, however we have a comprehensive range of orthotic products to suit your patients needs, including spinal, shoulder, knee and ankle orthoses. Other high quality products include the ToeOFF® Dynamic AFO , CHECK™ Knee Brace and the unique BioGel® footcare range. For a copy of our latest catalogue or for more information please contact us on 0121 475 1101, alternatively email us with your details and requirements to marketing@gilbert-mellish.co.uk - quoting the reference number below.

Ref: ADV010608

Gilbert & Mellish Limited. 3 Lightning Way, West Heath, Birmingham B31 3PH t. +44 (0) 121 475 1101 f. +44 (0) 121 478 0163 w. www.gilbert-mellish.co.uk


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New ‘hip and knee’ website goes live NEWS

A NEW website dedicated to providing independent information for patients undergoing hip and knee replacement surgery in the UK has gone live. www.hipandkneenetwork.co.uk boasts a panel of orthopaedic surgeons, and was launched at the British Orthopaedic Association conference in Liverpool. It was part-funded by the EU and enables patients to access government data on the quality and take up of all hip and knee implants on the market.

This is the first time that this data has been presented in an easily accessible way to the public, and the people behind the website say they have already had a lot of interest in this part of the site from patients undergoing this type of surgery. “We felt that patients should be better informed,” said Steve Young, one of the consultant orthopaedic surgeons behind the website. “There is a lot of information out there but its either too fragmented or created by

Sue Buckley (holding award) senior occupational therapist at Bradford Council with Sarah Gore and professor Peter Gore from ADL SmartCare Ltd and Jane Pegg, occupational therapy service manager at Bradford Council.

Council scoops national award BRADFORD Council has scooped a national award for its pioneering website which helps assess whether people need living aids such as stairlifts or special baths. The ADL SmartAssist website, set up last year by Bradford Council’s Adult Service in partnership with ADL Smartcare, picked up a prestigious Computing 2008 award in the Community Project of the Year category. The awards, dubbed the oscars of the IT industry recognise excellence and exceptional performance. Occupational therapy manager Jane Pegg and senior occupational therapist Sue Buckley from the council’s occupational therapy service

picked up the award at a glittering ceremony in London’s Battersea Park Events Arena. Councillor Dale Smith, executive member for adult services, said: “This is a fantastic achievement and underlines what a useful tool this website is. People can get the advice and support they need without having to wait for an appointment, but still with the reassurance that the service comes from an expert.” The website, at selfassess.co.uk/bradford, enables people to find out whether their lives would be improved by specialist equipment without them having to leave the house or make an appointment with an occupational therapist.

Charity has new executive director Jacqui Jones has replaced the retiring Jan Gethings as executive director of Mobility Choice, the charity behind the Mobility Roadshow. Jacqui has more than 10 years' involvement with the Mobility Roadshow, both as a founding director of Mobility Choice and previously with the Department for Transport. “More than ever, it is important for exhibitors to choose reputable events that deliver cost-effective exhibitions together with the all-important target audience,” she said. “The Mobility Roadshow has a proven track record of consistently meeting these requirements, spanning more than 25 years.

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people with a vested interest in a particular product or service. We designed the site to present all the information in a straightforward, unbiased, ethical way which will support and complement the work done by surgeons and physiotherapists with hip and knee replacement patients.”

Other innovations on the site include the ability to search for a surgeon or a hospital conducting hip and knee replacement surgery anywhere in the UK, send in a question to the surgeon panel, and take a test to assess the likelihood of hip and knee surgery.

The website is independent of the NHS, private medicine and implant suppliers, and all information on the site is produced and/or vetted by a panel of specialist orthopaedic surgeons.

The website also has a secure area for orthopaedic surgeons to network and communicate with each other in private, in addition to forums to enable professional debate.

Sensor can monitor progress of implants By Dominic Musgrave SWISS researchers have developed a sensor with no electronic components that can monitor the progress of orthopaedic implants in a healing bone. The device, embedded in an implant, monitors implant deformations to avoid overload during physiotherapy and provide more information about the healing process of the bone. More of the load shifts from the implant to the bone during rehabilitation, and this is reflected by changes in the deformation. Felix Gattiker, a research scientist from materials science research institution EMPA, said the problem with existing methods is they need sensors based on electromagnetic signal transmission.

so there would be no need to remove it when the bone was healed,” added Felix. “These sensors are particularly interesting for use alongside the biodegradable implants which are coming on to the market as there is no need for reoperation.” The sensor is a rectangular box, or reservoir, filled with a liquid such as distilled water, connected to a microchannel situated on top of it. The sensor is attached to an orthopaedic implant. When the implant is bent slightly, the reservoir is squeezed, causing the liquid to flow out of the reservoir and into the microchannel. There is a direct relationship between the fill level of the microchannel and the deformation of the reservoir.

“I welcome the opportunity to develop the show to maintain its position as the UK's premier event for disabled people of all ages, as well as older people experiencing reduced mobility.”

“That is not a problem in itself, but you need specialist equipment to read the sensor and to transfer the data from the sensor to an exterior device,” he said. “And, not only are they expensive, but you cannot fabricate them from biodegradable materials and have to operate to remove them.”

The fill level of the microchannel is measured using standard ultrasound equipment with the addition of new image processing algorithms to measure the levels.

The sensor is made of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) commonly known as plexiglass, but the team is working on a new version fabricated from biodegradable materials such as polycapro-lactone (PCL).

Next year’s event takes place at Kemble Airfield, Cirencester from June 4-6.

“Such a sensor would decompose in the body within a couple of months

“A doctor or surgeon would not accept the additional cost of a new single-purpose scanner. The commercial version of the system will be very affordable as it consists of the basic plastic or a biodegradable sensor and a software update for the ultrasound scanner.”

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

“The idea is to use commercially available scanners rather than having to buy or develop a new specialpurpose unit,” added Felix.


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Five minutes with ...

NEWS

Martin Matthews, managing director and orthotic clinical specialist of DM Orthotics Limited.

‘I would love to see more orthotists and healthcare professionals being more dynamic in their treatment’ How has the company got to where it is today? DM Orthotics was formed in 2004 as a result of the sale of the Camp Orthopaedic business by Tyco to Trulife. Prior to the sale, Tyco had manufactured Dynamic Lycra Orthoses in the Redruth facility for eight years. We kept the Redruth staff to provide the continuity and to develop new products at the facility.

Why do use Lycra? Traditionally treatments such as cerebral palsy and other neurological dysfunction has been treated orthotically using rigid orthoses. We use Lycra because it is flexible, breathable and cosmetic fabric which allows close fit and the application of additional panels to facilitate movement. The fabric is open weave and as such allows the skin to breathe.

Martin Matthews

What is the difference between your products and other compression garments on the market?

establishing DMO into a world leader in development and education of Neuro Dynamic Orthotics.

DMO are designed to be patient specific and to encompass specific neurological and biomechanical requirements to provide guided movements.

Where do you see the future of DMO?

What have been the biggest challenges during your time with DMO? The biggest challenge has been

I would love to see more orthotists and healthcare professionals being more dynamic in their treatment. I see DMO being used in a wider patient group and presentation which encourages a totally new view into orthotics management.

Firm sponsors fruit trees in lieu of Christmas cards A DAILY living aids manufacturer and distributor is giving something a little bit different than an ordinary Christmas card this year. Instead of sending out cards or emails, Mountway is sponsoring fruit trees. The donation will result in 720 fruit trees going to more than 50 families in Africa through the sponsortrees.co.uk programme. Among many environment initiatives Mountway recycles all its paper waste using the Shred-it programme and in just one year has saved nearly 17 trees.

Managing director Graeme Notley said: “At Christmas, there are so many cards being sent out which use a lot of natural resources which is why we decided instead to sponsor trees and give something back to the environment. “Planting more trees not only helps to save the planet but will also benefit the families who will receive them, allowing them to become more independent and is an extra bonus to the fact that we have also saved nearly 17 trees in one year.”

Ceremony marks latest stage in the construction of multi-million pound Institute at university THE topping out ceremony has taken place at the multi-million pound Health Design and Technology Institute (HDTI) at Coventry University, marking the latest stage in the construction of the Institute. University vice-chancellor professor Madeleine Atkins and HDTI director Simon Fielden were joined by representatives of the appointed architects and contractors at the building. The institute, which will open in May 2009, aims to promote health and wellbeing through the support of innovative ideas and technologies 14

that allow self-managing patients to live more independent lives.

new technologies.”

Simon said: “The new building presents a significant opportunity for the HDTI to continue to develop its partnership activity with business, the health and social care sector and, most importantly, patients.

Contractors Baggaley Construction began work on the three-storey building in January 2008. The building development is being funded by a £4.5million grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

“The building will include offices for applied research, incubation space for SMEs, a mock-up area where companies will be able to test prototypes in their intended environment and a usability suite, where innovative ideas and concepts can be evaluated by users of these

The operation of the institute is supported by a £3.6million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, to be followed by a further £10 million over the next 10 years. Financial support has also been provided by the European Regional Development Fund.

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Remploy Healthcare has launched a new addition to its Tilt in Space wheelchair range. The extra wide Bumblebee has been designed to suit users weighing up to 160kg, and is available with 16 inch or 24 inch wheels. It also has a seat width of 52cm that can be adjusted using widening adaptors. The leg rest can be altered from a 105degree to 140-degree angle and comes complete, as standard, with padded calf support and footplate. Using an extended tipping bar, the seat unit can be tilted to up to 30 degrees and with an extended gas spring the back tilt can be increased to 50 degrees. Available in black textile or black Dartex, the cushion and accessory covers can be easily removed and are washable. The wheelchair comes with a range of standard features, including removable, height variable full-length padded arm rests, padded calf supports and a threeway adjustable head support.


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Arthritis research earns surgeon major prize A CONSULTANT orthopaedic surgeon from University Hospital Aintree has scooped a major prize for a groundbreaking piece of research into arthritis treatment.

fusion, and which should seek other treatments, such as ankle replacements The work was carried out while he was on a six month fellowship at the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy in Baltimore, USA, under the guidance of foot and ankle surgeon Dr Mark Myerson – one of the world’s leading experts in the field.

Andy Molloy received the 2008 Roger A Mann Award from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. It is given annually in recognition of an outstanding clinical paper. Andy’s study was based on research into treatments for patients suffering from ankle arthritis. He said: “We were thrilled to even be nominated for the award, but to win was unbelievable. It is an extremely important award as it is judged from research submitted from hospitals across the world. It is a great honour.” One of the most common treatments for ankle arthritis is an ankle fusion. Although this operation has a good success rate, a small percentage of patients go on to develop pain later in life.

Andy Molloy

His work examined a large group of patients, following up their treatment and x-rays of the affected area, to try and discover why some people develop later problems. The research could be used in future to identify which patients are suitable for ankle

During his fellowship, the consultant worked with both elderly and young sufferers of arthritis and foot deformities, as well as working extensively with people with sports injuries – including professional US football and basketball players from teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals and the LA Lakers He added: “It was a wonderful experience, and also enabled me to pick up some first-class techniques and research ideas which I can use to benefit patients back at home at University Hospital Aintree.”

Therapist is suspended for one year AN occupational therapist has been suspended from practising for one year for attempting to make contact with patients under the influence of alcohol. A panel of the Health Professions Council conduct and competence committee heard that on June 2 2007 Jennifer North entered the Redford Lodge Hospital premises outside of work hours. The registrant had resigned from her post at the hospital on May 30 and was on gardening leave at the time of the incident.

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The panel heard from several credible and reliable witnesses, including the night nurse manager for the hospital, who said she went outside at 11pm after being told that someone was outside attempting to talk to patients. The witness advised that she could smell alcohol on the registrant’s breath. Panel chair Colin Allies said: “The panel is of the view that the registrant’s actions fell below the standards expected of a health professional in that she has failed to behave with integrity. In addition the panel is agreed that the registrant’s conduct was such that it was likely to damage the reputation of her profession.”

Students promote their profession to the public STUDENTS at Canterbury Christ Church University celebrated National Occupational Therapy Week by promoting their chosen profession to members of the public. The students aim to raise awareness of the role of OTs by highlighting numerous settings in which they may work. Lecturer Gemma Taylor-Wyard said: “We are keen to raise awareness about the valuable role of OTs. “They work with people who have experienced changes in their lives, to develop or maintain aspects of daily living that are important and meaningful to them. “It is a fantastic profession that helps people lead more independent and rewarding lives and our students have invited the general public to see this for themselves.” The students encouraged the public to participate in a number of activities, some of which provided the opportunity to gain an insight as to some of the obstacles faced by those experiencing challenges to their health and wellbeing. These included trying to put on items of clothing using various dressing aids, attempting to prepare a sandwich while wearing specially

Students Ana Ahmady, Jane Pooley and Hannah Clark adapted glasses which replicate various visual impairments and getting around campus using a walking aid or wheelchair. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

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Marc Woods shows the audience one of his Paralympic gold medals

Inspiring Marc shares his story at BHTA awards ASSISTIVE Technologies magazine was again the main sponsor of the annual British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) awards.

highest volcano, Cotopaxi in Ecuador; Mont Pelvoux part of the Massif des Ecrins in France and 22,200ft Mera Peak in Nepal.

The awards were once again hosted by Angela Rippon, while the keynote address was delivered by motivational speaker and former Paralymic swimmer Marc Woods.

In 2009 he will embark on an expedition to climb Cho Oyu ,which at 8,201 metres is the sixth highest mountain in the world.

The four-time gold medallist had his left leg amputated when he was 17 due to cancer. Prior to the diagnosis he had been a county swimmer, and the day after he had his stitches out he was back in the water.

Wharncliffe Publishing managing director, Michael Hewitt, said: “Assistive Technologies magazine was delighted to sponsor these

Angela Rippon entertains the crowd

awards that recognise those organisations that have made an exceptional contribution to the industry in terms of innovation and customer service. “It was very encouraging to see that we had a record number of companies nominated, demonstrating the many achievements made over the last year, and our congratulations to all those companies put forward but in particular the category winners.”

Within a year he was swimming quicker with one leg than he was with two, and 18 months after he finished his chemotherapy he was selected to represent Great Britain. Now retired from international swimming, he has embarked on a series of new challenges. Having already trekked in Nepal, Ecuador and Peru (the Inca Trail) he has begun to develop his mountaineering skills. To date he has climbed the world’s

An Opera on the Run singer wows the audience

The BHTA excellence award winners The BHTA excellence awards sponsored by Assistive Technologies magazine:

Rehabilitation

Thompson (Dudley Surgical Appliances).

Winner – Careflex

Employee of the year sponsored by

Mobility

Runner-up – Trulife

Assistive Technologies magazine – Dave

Winner – Albion Mobility

Highly commended – Ossur UK Ltd

Lilley (Mobility Link).

Runner-up – MERU

Orthotics

Team of the year sponsored by Assistive

Highly commended – Pride Mobility

Winner – Remploy Healthcare

Technologies magazine - TPG Disableaids

Prosthetics

Runner-up – Langer UK Ltd

Ltd.

Winner – Dorset Orthopaedic

Highly Commended – A Algeo Ltd

Donald Blatchford dealer excellence

Runner-up – Touch Bionics

Lifetime service award sponsored by Assistive Technologies magazine – David

award sponsored by Thiis magazine –

Highly commended – Otto Bock

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Dave’s award win A FORMER computer logistics worker who was originally turned down for the job won the employee of the year award sponsored by Assistive Technologies magazine. Dave Lilley, of Bury-based Mobility Link, worked in computers for three decades before taking early retirement. The 63-year-old’s application was originally turned down, but a chance second meeting with owner Rob Naylor led to him joining six years ago. “I was delivering a stairlift to Dave’s next door neighbour when he came out for a chat,” said Rob. “I remember him saying ‘Don’t forget me’. I was looking for someone at the time and invited him to come in for another chat. He has been here ever since.” He added: “Dave is brilliant with customers, he gets to know them and helps in any way that he can. If he had his way he would make them all a brew and sit and chat for hours.” Dave, who also spent two years working for a local charity, added: “I’m so proud to have won this award. I thought my

Dave Lilley receives his award from BHTA president Graham Collyer

days of winning things were long gone. “I’m basically a people person who likes listening, and I enjoy helping them to look after themselves or look after someone else if it is a relative that comes into the shop.” Rob founded Mobility Link with

his wife Christine seven years ago, having previously worked for a wheelchair platform lift company. He also repairs mobility scooters and wheelchairs at a separate workshop. Dave was nominated for the award by the customers.

Award is a ‘pat on the back for the whole team’ TPG Disableaids were the first winners of the team of the year award at the annual ceremony. The business was established in 1985 by Tony and Pam Gibbs, who are now semi-retired, and is run today by their son and daughter. The Hereford based company supplies care equipment and disabled aids to the elderly and disabled markets. It also specialises in the supply, repair, and maintenance of all types of mobility aids from stairlifts to living aids. “We were delighted when we heard we had won the award and see it as a pat on the back for the whole team,” said director and general manager Alistair Gibbs. “We aim to offer all our customers a better service than they would expect and the whole basis of our company is that we wish to treat other people as we would wish to be treated ourselves. “Everybody who works here has the customer’s best interests at heart and the award is a big vote of confidence.” BHTA director general Ray Hodgkinson added: “The new team of the year award has come about as a direct result of BHTA member customers comments on the customer satisfaction cards, part of the monitoring of the Code of Practice, which now reflect the good service individuals give to their customers. As the year has gone on we are seeing all staff names in a member business appearing on the cards.”

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A world first for Nudrive ... NUDRIVE is the world’s first leverdrive propulsion accessory for manual wheelchairs and was developed by Pure Global in association with the Aspire Centre for Disability Sciences at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. The new device, which was only launched in October, reduces the force needed to self-propel in a wheelchair by up to 40 per cent. It began life as its creator Robert Orford’s A Level project after he was inspired at the age of 18 to help improve the lives of people with disabilities while volunteering at a disability charity for young people. He went on to develop a basic wheelchair propulsion concept for his project, winning the Audi young designer of the year award in 2002. He also received a grant from Audi to develop his idea into a commercial solution. “A new approach to manual

wheelchair propulsion is long overdue and we are delighted to now make a new solution available,” said Robert. “With NuDrive, the user propels the chair forwards and backwards, and can manoeuvre and brake, all by pushing the adjustable levers. It removes the need to spin the wheel rims by hand which immediately improves posture and hygiene, and shifts the shoulder loading which reduces the risk of shoulder degradation and injury. The system also eliminates the risk of repetitive strain injury in hands and can also reduce injury to wrists and elbows.” NuDrive quickly attaches to most 24 inch manual wheelchairs and requires no hand or finger dexterity to operate, making it easier to grip than a normal wheel rim and possible for some people with severe or Rheumatoid Arthritis to propel themselves independently.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

Robert’s design in independent living award win By Dominic Musgrave PURE Global’s NuDrive lever-drive propulsion accessory for manual wheelchairs won the independent living design award at the annual British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) ceremony. The new system was designed by 25year-old Robert Orford and aims to improve posture and reduce shoulder degradation and injury as well as the force needed to self-propel by up to 40 per cent. Judges said: “Up to 40 per cent less effort required to propel a manual wheelchair? It didn’t take anything like that amount of effort for us to back this as our winner.” Sunrise Medical’s Jay J3 Back wheelchair support was the runner up, while the Lightwriter SL40 protable text-to-speech communication aid from Toby Churchill Ltd was third. Judges looked at entries from the

point of view primarily of innovation, aesthetics, usability and practicality, enhancement of quality of life and finally clarity of user instructions and literature. Sue Norris, former head of the NHS PASA Centre for Evidence-Based Purchasing and chair of the judges for the fourth year, said: “We felt that the three prizewinners had made subtle but significant improvements to the safety and quality of life for the users of their products.” This year she was joined by Julia Scott, chief executive of the College of Occupational Therapists; Bob Empson, a trustee of The Foundation for Assistive Technology (FAST); Maggie Winchcombe, a trained occupational therapist who runs her own consultancy business, working for Government departments, industry and voluntary organisations Continued on Page 19


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Jim Barratt and Jane Elsworth from Sunrise Medical receive the runners up prize from Sue Norris and Angela Rippon for their Jay J3 Wheelchair Back.

NuDrive’s representatives Rabi Salifu and Chris Bartlett receive the award from Sue Norris and Angela Rippon Continued from Page 18

and new judge Steve McNeice from emPower, who is also a member of the Associate Parliamentary Limb Loss group. BHTA director general Ray Hodgkinson added: “This year’s awards have continued to reflect excellence and the high standards being achieved in the assistive technology sector. “I am particularly pleased that Robert Orford has been rewarded by

winning the ILD award. It was a shame he could not be with us on the awards night but he is a fine example of how with dedication ambitions can be met.” The event was held at the Hotel Russell in London, and this year’s chosen charity was When you wish upon a Star, which is celebrating its 18th year and during that time has made 14,000 dreams come true for children with life threatening illnesses.

Toby Churchill’s Nick Bane and Sandra Hartley collect their third place prize from Angela Rippon and Sue Norris for the Lightwriter SL40.

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John Preston’s Nick Cooke, Lynne Breen and Colin Thompson receive the award from Graham Collyer and Angela Rippon

Irish family business wins excellence award JOHN Preston and Co were the second winners of the Donald Blatchford dealer excellence award sponsored by THIIS. The Northern Ireland family business, which distributes an extensive range of medical, healthcare and mobility products to nursing homes, hospitals,

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therapists and the public, beat off competition from many other companies to pick up the award. “To all the team at John Preston winning this award means that in a time of economic uncertainty and tight budgets, and in a highly competitive market, our hard and fast

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

belief that top quality service, products and people will prevail has been categorically proven and rewarded,” said sales manager Lynne Breen. “We want to sincerely thank all of our clients and suppliers for working with us and for your recognition of our efforts.”

“I feel a key factor to our success lies is our team. In every division we have great talent and dedication: sales, admin, logistics and service.” The award was presented for the first time last year in memory of Donald Blatchford of Mobility Showcase, who was a leading figure in the industry.


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Lifetime service award for David THE man who developed the nation’s first orthopaedic stock footwear and inflatable orthoses and other arm and leg inflatable bracing was recognised at the BHTA awards.

The pair went on to open a purposebuilt factory and offices in the West Midlands, where many departments were set up to manufacture fit for purpose orthoses.

David Thompson, whose career has spanned more than half a century, won the lifetime service award sponsored by Assistive Technologies magazine for his contribution to the industry.

“I remember a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth,” he joked. “The health service has moved on and I’m proud to still be a part of it. I am honoured to have been recognised in this way by the BHTA.”

The 70-year-old set up the company in 1965 with partner George Edmonds, with whom he first worked alongside with when he joined Salts Healthcare.

David started his career as a plaster technician and patternmaker at Dudley Guest Hospital before going on to join Remploy as a trainee orthotist.

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Nicola Brien from When you wish upon a Star, the BHTA’s chosen charity, receives a cheque for £2,000 from Angela Rippon.

ADVERTISER’S ANNOUNCEMENT

John Preston & Company Awarded for Excellence!! On Thursday 4th Dec John Preston and Company were proud to receive a very prestigious award from the BHTA (British Healthcare Trades Association) which is the UK's oldest, largest and highly respected healthcare association (founded in 1917). Nick Cooke, Lynne Breen and Colin Thompson from John Preston & Co attended a wonderful awards ceremony at the Hotel Russell London to accept the "Donald Blatchford Retailer Excellence Award" presented by the event host Angela Rippon and Grahame Collier (Chairman of BHTA) . To all the team at John Preston winning this award means that in a time of economic uncertainty and tight budgets and in a highly competitive market; our hard and fast belief that top quality service, products and people will prevail has been categorically proven and rewarded. We want to sincerely thank all of our clients and suppliers for working with us and for your recognition of our efforts. John Preston would also like to congratulate the other BHTA award winners particularly our friends at Careflex who received an award for Excellence in the field of Rehabilitation! Well Done!! The management team at John Preston would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank each and every member of our staff whose ongoing dedication, hard work and cooperation has made John Preston & Co a winning team!

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The British Healthcare Trade Association Excellence Awards 2008 sponsored by Assistive Technologies magazine

Hayley Doig, Assistive Technologies magazine sales representative, accepts the Mobility award on behalf of Albion Mobility from Marc Woods.

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Marc Woods presents the Rehabilitation award to Lindsey Townsend and John Barklamb from Careflex.

Dorset Orthopaedic’s Tessa Watts receives the Prosthetics award from Marc Woods.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

Steve Jones and Robert McKenzie-Smith from Remploy receive the Orthotics award.


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More investment for physios who ‘can save lives’ By Dominic Musgrave GREATER investment should be made in the specialist services that physiotherapists can provide according to a leading charity. Joe Korner, director of communications at the Stroke Association, told the delegates at the The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Annual Congress in Manchester that “physios can save lives.” He added: “There is a stroke in the UK every five minutes. “Patient survival and mobility could be significantly improved with greater physiotherapy expertise at a very early stage after a stroke. “This is particularly important in acute care settings, delivered as part of a multi-disciplinary team approach.” Describing the breakthroughs in stroke care that are starting to be seen as a result of the National Stroke Strategy, he said that people affected by stroke know the true value of the help physios can provide, and they want more therapy services. “The difference that physiotherapy

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makes is too little known, and too little money is spent on the lifechanging services that physiotherapists provide to patients, including those recovering from stroke,” he added. In his speech ‘A political perspective on public health – and why physiotherapists should engage’, he also outlined how the Stroke Association has been successful in getting the Government and local health authorities and boards to make the condition a far higher priority. He told the physiotherapists to feel more confident about speaking out at a local level to help improve the number of services available to patients, adding: “The Stroke Association has gained a huge amount of influence through our campaigning work since 2005 and has achieved a lot of things that many people thought impossible. “Stroke prevention and treatment is now a top priority in health policy and it’s possible for the physiotherapy profession to use similar strategies to ours to engage politicians in the issues important to their patients.”

Eleven times Paralympic gold medallist David Roberts MBE will open the Naidex exhibition in April. Over the past eight years the swimmer has won three gold medals in Sydney, four in Athens and another four in Beijing after being picked for Great Britain at the age of 19. Naidex organiser Liz Virgo said: “We are delighted that David is opening Naidex and pleased we found someone who our exhibitors and visitors could both relate to and aspire to.”

Paralympic medallist to address BAPO conference A MULTIPLE Paralympic medallist and a consultant rheumatalogist are the keynote speakers at the 15th annual BAPO conference. Former swimmer Marc Woods, who won 12 Paralympic medals, four of them gold, and a further 21 medals at European and World Championships over a 17-year career, will give the Ossur lecture entitled ‘The Path to Gold’. And Dr Ali Jawad from Barts and the London NHS Trust will give the Orthotic Education and Training Trust lecture ‘Advances in the management of rheumatoid arthritis and the impact on orthotic management’. The social programme includes the opening of the exhibition and icebreaker with a theme of ‘An Evening in Manhattan’ sponsored by DeNovo Healthcare, while DJO UK Ltd will host ‘A Night at the Races’ on the Saturday.

Joe Korner

BAPO takes place at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton on March 27 and 28.

Former swimmer Marc Woods

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Online way to plan day at Naidex VISITORS to the annual Naidex exhibition can now plan their day in advance thanks to a new online facility. ‘My Naidex’ is a quick and efficient way for visitors to organise their itinerary prior to the event and to ensure that they are able to see all the stands that are of interest to them. The software will also benefit the exhibitors by making sure key buyers and decision-makers can easily locate their stands. Event manager Liz Virgo said: “It is our aim to make visiting Naidex 2009 an enjoyable, informative and worthwhile day out for everyone, and we believe the ‘My Naidex’ tool will help make Naidex ‘09 the most successful show to date.” Naidex takes place at the Birmingham NEC from April 28-30.

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New e-learning system launched THE Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists launched its new e-learning system at its annual conference in Bournemouth.

International Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, a collaboration between the Society and the Australian Podiatry Council.

In conjunction with the Society, BMJ OnExamination has created a series of modules. Written by authors from the Faculty of Podiatric Medicine and General Practice, the 10 modules provide 20 hours of continuous professional development (CPD) .

Keynote speakers on the first day were Dr Angela Evans from the University of South Australia, with a lecture entitled ‘The flatfooted child – to treat or not to treat, what is the clinician to do? and Dr Anthony Redmond, senior lecturer at the University of Leeds, who spoke on ‘The foot and lower extremity in hypermobility (FLEXI) programme: the role of posture and function in mechanically induced pain’.

Case history questions assess knowledge of a particular subject area and explanations can improve learning. Certificates can be printed upon completion of each module. This year’s event attracted more than 1,300 delegates, 80 speakers giving presentations covering all aspects of podiatric practice, and 80 exhibitors. The theme of the conference was ‘you and your practice – learning together’, and Mike Potter opened the event by officially launching the new

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER 2008/JANUARY 2009

Day two began with keynote speeches from Dr Robert Frykberg from the USA entitled ‘The Charcot foot’ and Frank Webb, consultant podiatric surgeon, who spoke on surgical management of the infected foot. David Thornicroft from IMPACT Health and Social Care Training then told delegates about the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Dr Robert Frykberg addresses the delegates

Sessions on diabetes, general practice, management, homeopathy, surgery and CPD, as well as workshops on footwear and pharmacology rounded off the morning.

On the third morning there were parallel sessions on sports medicine and private practice, plus a session devoted to orthotic technicians and footcare assistants.

Concurrent sessions on rheumatology, private practice and surgery followed lunch, together with workshops on dermatology, footwear, casting, and vac therapy.

The Bob Prince Memorial Lecture was given by Dr Frykberg, and his theme was surgical management of the diabetic foot.

A plenary session on developments in vascular surgery by Max Mireskandari, consultant vascular surgeon, finished off the day, but various fringe meetings then took place.

Disabled adventure sportsman Jamie Andrew then gave a motivational speech before the annual awards lunch rounded off events. Next year’s conference takes place at Harrogate from November 19-21.


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New building is dedicated to kids’ assessment A MULTI-MILLION pound building dedicated to the assessment of children with mobility problems has opened at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust. Helping children with a variety of conditions including hereditary muscle and nerve disorders, the focus of the TORCH Centre is on families, research and furthering knowledge. Lofty the Lion meets visitors to the annual exhibition

Thousands attend Kidz up North THE annual Kidz up North exhibition was held at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton for the eight successive year. Organised by Disabled Living, the event attracted almost 2,500 people, with 64 companies and 38 voluntary and service organisations exhibiting. As well as the free seminars offering a range of information from experts, Bolton Wanderers’ mascot Lofty the Lion and Father Christmas and his elves made several appearances

Magician Uncle Chris and his friend Bobby and staff from ‘Football in the Community’ entertained both children and adults with magic and balloon sculptures and a penalty shootout area respectively. Debra Evans, chief executive of Disabled Living, said: “As the Government agenda moves towards direct payments and individual budgets it is important that children, their parents and carers are aware of the most innovative, funky and cost effective equipment that is

available in the UK today. Manufacturers invest heavily in research, design and development of new equipment. The Kidz exhibitions are the perfect environment for the children to have their say on what they would expect from equipment in the future.” Disabled Living are bringing the ‘Kidz’ concept to the Midlands on March 12 when the inaugural Kidz in the Middle event takes place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

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The new facility includes custom designed clinical areas, including a spacious gait laboratory to assess patients with walking difficulties, located on the ground floor for ease of access. The Orthotic and Locomotor Assessment Unit (ORLAU) will lead the way in the field of movement analysis and rehabilitation, and will regularly host international conferences and work in partnership with centres of excellence from around the world. “The biggest improvement is in the clinic rooms which provide a clean, safe, user friendly environment,” said medical director for ORLAU, Andrew Roberts. “Our new gait laboratory brings ORLAU’s movement analysis service into the digital age, with a new video system and improved facilities for measuring the forces involved in walking. The ORLAU team has worked hard to make the impact on patient treatment as small as possible.”

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Is core stability training here to stay? By Martin Haines IN the health industry we have probably been seduced by more fads than any other. They seem to come and go so quickly, you can hardly recall them. So, is core stability training just one of those fads or is it here to stay? As with any ‘new’ exercise concept, there will always be a variety of ways in which the exercises are prescribed, some less effective than others. But as science has embraced the core stability concept, it has become better taught and applied. In fact, apart from the more overt commercial claims, core stability training has been shown to be a very important part of the patient’s exercise programme and studies have indicated that there is no better way of re-programming the motor strategy. But therein lies the problem. A few years ago, I made a series of presentations at Fit Camp, the

annual exercise summit for the fitness industry, on the merits of understanding biomechanics prior to an exercise programme. Before the presentation, the audience took part in a Pilate’s class. Afterwards I asked them how many had back pain and over 75 per cent put up their hands. Prior to the class only a couple had mentioned any back problems. I tested some of their biomechanics and every one of them had marked deficits, which is not uncommon. So, it wasn’t that the class that had caused the pain, it was the fact that they were not biomechanically prepared to perform the exercises properly. If there are biomechanical issues with a patient’s spine and pelvis, it is very difficult for them to be able to engage the core, as the global muscles of the spine are in subclinical muscle spasm, which actually inhibits engagement. But if you sort out the patient’s

Lorna’s new role at hospice A PART-TIME fitness instructor at the House of Commons has started a new job as a physiotherapist in a hospice. Lorna Malcolm’s new role follows her recently graduating with a BSC (Hons) in physiotherapy from St George’s, University of London. The 50-year-old, who also works part-time at the Reebok Sports Club, says that studying for the degree has helped her in her work as a fitness instructor. “Studying physiotherapy has enhanced my underpinning knowledge and teaching skills,” she said. “Part of being a fitness instructor is being able to give sound and appropriate advice on physical ailments such as back pain and shoulder problems. “I now feel more confident giving that advice and incorporating exercises to address physical ailments into the classes I teach.” Lorna moved into the fitness industry six years ago after quitting a promising career in law. She says her interest in physiotherapy grew as she felt she needed to know more about the human body and how it worked. 26

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biomechanics, core engagement is actually simple. Core stability training teaches patients how to engage their trunk muscles and stabilise the spine in whatever position that is natural at the time, even if it is incorrect due to biomechanical issues. The likely outcome of stabilising someone in the ‘wrong’ position would be an increased risk of pain. What we need to do instead is provide the body with the building blocks for ‘normal’ movement, mobilise any nerve tension and ensure the pelvis is functional, with no leg length discrepancies. Once we have the patient in proper biomechanical shape, then core stability training provides a high degree of stability in a good biomechanical position. When that stability is refined and becomes functional, you can start working on the functional patterns that are important for achieving many of the patient’s goals.

Martin Haines

Martin is managing director of Mobilis Performance and has devised a series of Intelligent Training™ courses for coaches and fitness professionals, aimed at injury prevention and optimal performance. He has worked with elite sports people for more than 20 years.

Specialist team to give sports advice to athletes By Dominic Musgrave THE NHS sports injury clinical team from the specialist orthopaedic hospital in Oswestry will provide general sports injury advice to athletes at the Great North Cross Country Championships. The event, which takes place in St Helens on January 24, is the first link between the hospital and Northern Athletics, attracting the largest participation of the 20 events in their calendar with more than 4000 athletes entered. Specialist sports injury orthopaedic surgeons and senior sports physiotherapists from the Robert

Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital NHS Trust in Oswestry, Shropshire will be available to give general advice to any sports related health problems or injuries to the knee, or foot and ankle. Director of the Oswestry NHS Sports Injury Service, Dai Rees, said: “We are delighted to help athletes from Northern Athletics and hopefully to prevent further injuries. “The NHS Sports Injury Service was established at Oswestry over 12 years ago and brings together a lot of expertise not widely available elsewhere in the UK.”

Matt visits De Montfort A FORMER rugby player visited De Montfort University in Leicester to learn about cutting-edge computer technology.

tracking technology as it has the potential to transform the lives of disabled people who could not use a computer any other way.

Former Leicester Tigers star Matt Hampson, who was left paralysed after a scrum collapsed on him in 2005, learned about eye-tracking software, met disabled students and about the university’s facilities for people with disabilities.

“I’m really interested in finding about the new ways it could be used to help disabled people.”

Matt said: “As patron of the Special Effect charity I was really interested in finding out more about eye-

Academics at the university have been working on eye-tracking technology projects which have looked at how it can be used to play games, communicate and be used to in the home to answer the telephone, switching lights on and off and closing curtains.


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Assistive Technologies (Dec08/ Jan 09)