INNOVATION FOR INDEPENDENCE
ISSUE 95 FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014 £6.95
Silver nanowires could be used in new prosthetics By Dominic Musgrave NORTH Carolina State University researchers have used silver nanowires to develop wearable, multifunctional sensors that could be used in biomedical, military or athletic applications, including new prosthetics, robotic systems and flexible touch panels. The sensors can measure strain, pressure, human touch and bioelectronic signals such as electrocardiograms. Shanshan Yao, a student at NC State and lead author of a paper on the work, said: “The technology is based on either physical deformation or ‘fringing’ electric field changes. “The latter is very similar to the mechanism used in smartphone touch screens, but the sensors we've developed are stretchable and can be mounted on a variety of curvilinear surfaces such as human skin.”
that can ‘feel’ their environment, or the sensors could be incorporated into clothing to track motion or monitor an individual's physical health.” The researchers built on Yong’s earlier work to create highly conductive and elastic conductors made from silver nanowires. Specifically, the researchers sandwiched an insulating material between two of the stretchable conductors. The two layers then have the ability – called ‘capacitance’ – to store electric charges. Pushing, pulling or touching the stretchable conductors changes the capacitance. The sensors work by measuring that change in capacitance. “Creating these sensors is simple and low cost,” added Shanshan. “And we’ve already demonstrated the sensors in several prototype applications.”
“These sensors could be used to help develop prosthetics that respond to a user's movement and provide feedback when in use,” added Dr Yong Zhu, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and senior author of the paper.
The researchers employed these sensors to monitor thumb movement, which can be useful in controlling robotic or prosthetic devices. The researchers also demonstrated an application to monitor knee movements while a test subject is running, walking and jumping.
“They could also be used to create robotics
The researchers also developed an array of
A senior physiotherapist for the NHS in Worthing competed in the World’s Strongest Man competition in Sanya, China. Lloyd Renals started strength training around four years ago and has progressed quickly in the sport. He trains for approximately 12 hours a day, five days a week in the run up to events, and says that his occupation has played a large role in how he has progressed.
Army team finish third in Atlantic rowing challenge By Dominic Musgrave FOUR service personnel have completed the world's toughest rowing race – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. The Row2Recovery crew of two amputee and two able-bodied soldiers completed the epic 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to the Caribbean island of Antigua in 48 days, nine hours and 13 minutes to finish third overall. The crew was made up of skipper Captain James Kayll, Captain Mark Jenkins, Corporal Cayle Royce and Corporal Scott Blaney. Corporal Royce was wounded in Afghanistan in May 2012 when he stepped on an explosive device which resulted in above-the-knee amputation of both legs and the loss of several fingers on his left hand. Corporal Blaney had to have an above-the-knee amputation, also as
Contacts Editorial Judith Halkerston Email: email@example.com
Dominic Musgrave Healthcare Editor Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01226 734407 Christina Eccles Reporter Email: email@example.com Tel: 01226 734463 Sales
a result of a bomb-blast in Afghanistan, in 2007.
Despite their injuries both service personnel are committed to still enjoying life to the full, and that’s why they took on the Atlantic challenge.
And it certainly wasn’t all plain sailing, as when the crew began the race they had to cope with two weeks of storms. The Row2Recovery boat also capsized in the middle of the night when two huge waves crashed into it and the crew and much of their kit was thrown overboard.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01226 734412 Fax: 01226 734478 Tony Barry Sales and Marketing Director Email: email@example.com Circulation firstname.lastname@example.org 24 hour hotline: 01226 734695
Speaking via a satellite link from the mid-Atlantic, Captain Jenkins said: “It’s been hugely challenging for Scott and Cayle, not just the rowing itself, but things like getting from one end of the boat to the other. “They have shared their hardship and developed a great camaraderie.”
Richmond property lawyer and lower-limb amputee Georgy Evans is set to embark on a new challenge on the ski slopes, thanks to a specialist prosthetic skiing leg developed and fitted by The London Prosthetic Centre. Georgy was three years old when she lost her leg, after her wellington boot became caught in an escalator of a Kensington High Street store, dragging her leg in and trapping it between the side panel and the moving steps.
Design/Production Stewart Holt Studio Manager Email: email@example.com Laura Blackburn Graphic Designer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
New dance injury clinic opens at hospital By Dominic Musgrave
THE second NHS specialist dance injury clinic is set to open at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham as part of the hospital's Sport and Exercise Medicine Service.
The new clinic will be based at QEHB and will work in partnership with Birmingham Royal Ballet’s state-ofthe-art Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries.
The partners of the ground-breaking National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) announced the new clinic following the success of the London clinic at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Research has shown 80 per cent of professional dancers suffer an injury that stops them working each year, so fast, affordable, specialist healthcare is critical to keeping dancers in employment. Birmingham is one of the biggest hubs of dancers in England with a concentration of dance science expertise including three of the founding NIDMS partners: Birmingham Royal Ballet; University of Wolverhampton’s Dance Science Department and the University of Birmingham’s dance psychology research group in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences and School of
The first NHS dance injury clinic at RNOH opened in May 2012 and has treated more than 200 dancers in its first year, and has been widely acclaimed by dancers and dance companies. Dr Leon Creaney, consultant in sport and exercise medicine at QEHB, said: “We look forward to providing a world-class NHS specialist dance injury clinic at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and forging a successful partnership with the Jerwood Centre. “This model of care has worked extremely well in London and we plan to replicate this in Birmingham so the region’s dancers can receive a bespoke service. “The clinic offers a multi-disciplinary approach utilising a sports physician and sports physiotherapist to offer
The sport and exercise medicine team.
experienced care for dancers.” NIDMS, through shared expertise and a network of multidisciplinary hubsites and partners, aims to provide all dancers with access to high quality,
evidence-based, dance-specific healthcare and dance science services. It has three strands: clinical services; education for dancers and medical specialists; and research.
BAPO conference heads to Manchester THE OETT technician training day on the first day of the annual BAPO conference will offer technicians the opportunity to come together and share knowledge and experience.
catch up with colleagues.
Phil Buttery opens the programme with his session on a technician in Uganda, while Dave Buchanan, Phil Rees, Tim Cooney and Keith Miller focus on why prescriptions are derived.
He will explain the accountability of the health professional and the different ways in which patient records are scrutinised and analysed. Andrew will also consider the clinical, professional and legal requirements that apply to record keeping.
There will also be an open forum focusing on the future of technician training and delegates will have the opportunity to attend two of Andrew Andrews’ sessions. The day will be rounded off with the technician get together, which is an opportunity to network and
Andrew Andrews takes the lead in the Friday afternoon session of the 20th conference, with ‘Clinical responsibility of a healthcare professional’.
Invited guests have then been asked to form a discussion panel. Steve Mottram (BAPO), Sian Rabi-Laleh (Unison), Michael Guthrie (HCPC), Andrew Andrews and Simon Dickinson (orthotist) will give a short
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
presentation on how each of their organisations would be involved should your practise be legally challenged. Andrew will cross examine Simon under court room conditions in order to highlight the requirements of delegates should they be asked to attend court and whether their clinical notes are to a standard that would stand up to cross examination. Highlights of the prosthetic programme include Ossur physiotherapist Peter Slijkuis and amputee sports coach Hayley Ginn taking delegates on an amputee’s rehabilitation journey from their first steps in rehab to recreational running in ‘Slow steps to fast steps’.
‘Upper limb prosthetics 1978-2013: my experiences’ is the title of Nick Hillsdon MBE’s seminar. He is an upper limb clinical specialist at Queen Mary’s Hospital and has been at the forefront of upper limb prosthetics and directly involved with many new developments.. Nick’s presentation will discuss his experiences in upper limb prosthetics from 1978-2013, looking at the changes he has encountered during his career. He will discuss where major changes have and have not occurred. BAPO takes place at The Point – Lancashire County Cricket Club’s Old Trafford ground – from March 14-16.
‘Learn to Run’ clinics ‘Bionic suit’ company help amputees get brings most advanced on the right track wheelchair to the UK LIMBPOWER has launched a series of ‘Learn to Run’ clinics for amputees, no matter their circumstance or fitness, to learn the techniques to get them on the right track to running. The clinics are being held as a part of the UK Athletics’ talent introduction days – a national programme which is designed to allow people with disabilities to try different sports and see if they have hidden talents that could be developed – either with a view to just finding a new hobby, or perhaps with an eye on Rio 2016. They will be led by Lincoln Asquith, an ex-England international, Hayley Ginn a specialist in amputee track and Robert Barrett, ex-Paralympian. The focus will be on introducing amputees to running techniques and equipment and showing them exercises to increase strength and mobility. LimbPower chairman Kiera Roche said: “The Learn to Run clinics have proved to be massively popular and successful. The sessions were great
By Dominic Musgrave THE distribution company behind ReWalk – the bionic suit that allows people with lower-limb disabilities to stand and walk independently – has launched a new power-assisted, allterrain wheelchair.
fun and those who took part seemed to really benefit from the expertise on offer, whether they were dedicated runners with a view to competitive success, or simply wanting to try something new and improve their mobility.” The clinics will include a theorybased introduction to running prosthetics and a practical element on basic walking and running drills. The sessions will be suitable for anyone, whether they are simply looking to try out a new hobby, or those who want to improve technique and performance.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Tailwind is a lightweight chair that helps users to confidently and safely navigate challenging terrain with the help of a built-in computer, which is controlled by a single, discreet switch. The chair is battery-powered for everyday use and doesn’t require any programming. It will take away the burden of downhill braking and the force required to go uphill, and the sensitivity of the power-assist feature will be fully adaptable to suit each user’s requirements. Dave Hawkins, managing director of Cyclone Technologies, said: “Tailwind is ideal for active wheelchair users and will deliver a new level of independence for those looking to go where they want, when they want, with the convenience, fit and
style of a manual wheelchair and the required power to do the things they love. “We’re very excited about introducing this product to the UK market, and feel confident that it will make a very positive and valuable difference to our customers’ lives.” Each Tailwind will be made-to-order and configured to meet individual needs, from width and depth, to specifics such as camber or front frame angle. A range of optional extras are available, too, including Spinergy wheels, tyres, push rim coatings, arm rests, lap belts, push handles and frog leg forks, so users can personalise their wheelchair. It can also be easily dismantled, ensuring that users will be lifting only a little over 30lbs when transferring the chair to a vehicle. It also features quick-release wheels, easy battery removal, and a fold-down backrest. Tailwind is manufactured by Clinton River Medical Products, and is distributed exclusively in the UK and Ireland by Cyclone Technologies.
Seacroft Hospital wins top award for a third time
By Dominic Musgrave THE prosthetics and orthotics team at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds has beaten off fierce national competition to be named the Disablement Service Centre of the Year. This is the third time Seacroft has independently been voted as the best centre by a national charity. The Limbless Association Prosthetic and Orthotic Awards honour outstanding achievers across the country with teams, industry professionals and inspirational individuals recognised. The winners were presented with the awards by Eric Ollerenshaw MP at a prestigious ceremony within the Houses of Parliament. A contributing factor to the achievement was due to the Pectus Carinatum Brace led by Alex Callaghan, principal orthotist for RSLSteeper. The innovative chest compressor improves the physical appearance of the pigeon chest deformity and greatly improves the psychological well being of teenagers’ perception of their own body image. Mark Davies, rehabilitation services director for RSLSteeper, said: “We have many wonderful individuals in the team who enable us to provide the innovative services we are acclaimed for. “To achieve this accolade three times is a tremendous honour for all of them. This clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of working in partnership with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to achieve improvements in patient care.” The highly renowned specialist prosthetic team also saw Leeds-based ‘trail blade runner’, Phil Sheridan, who they have supported for several years, collect an individual ‘award for
Phil Sheridan won an individual ‘award for inspiration’ for his contribution to prosthetic awareness.
inspiration’ for his contribution to prosthetic awareness. Nancy Rhodes, head of specialist rehabilitation services for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We've work in partnership with RSLSteeper in providing a fully integrated and holistic patient pathway that best meets individual patients’ needs. “Our focus and drive has always been to continually improve patient service. We are now winning plaudits from all over the country and this award is a further indication of the remarkable progress our team at Seacroft Hospital continues to achieve.”
New clinic uses 3D technology THE University of Salford has launched a new clinic which uses 3D technology to help amateur runners learn how to run more like elite athletes. The clinic uses 3D cameras to track the motion of reflective markers attached to the legs, pelvis and spine as a person runs. A detailed report is used to understand how their gait differs from an elite athlete, and a physiotherapist develops a personalised exercise programme to improve their performance. 8
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
The technology is very different to the 2D video-based approach in some running clinics which does not convey the complex coordination of the different body parts, and may not pick up the subtle differences in movement which can cause an injury or reduce running efficiency. Dr Steve Preece of the University’s School of Health Sciences said: “By learning how to run more like top athletes, runners can reduce their risk of injury and improve race times. The clinic can also help people to recover from running-related injuries.”
Wounded soldier Andrew receives UK’s first mindcontrolled prosthetic arm A SOLDIER who lost an arm while in Afghanistan has become the first person in the UK to receive a mindcontrolled prosthetic limb. Corporal Andrew Garthwaite’s revolutionary ‘robotic’ prosthetic, which was fully funded by MOD, was shown off to his peers and defence minister Anna Soubry during his final visit to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court. While there, Andrew was able to demonstrate how the mindcontrolled prosthetic has transformed his life, empowering him to independently carry out a wide range of day-to-day tasks including opening doors, gardening and even cooking. Anna added: “It has been an immense privilege to have witnessed this revolutionary mind-controlled prosthetic in action. I am delighted that we were able to fund Corporal Andrew Garthwaite’s life-changing surgery and rehabilitation. “His bravery, commitment and determination are an inspiration to us all. I am committed to making sure
our injured personnel get the best possible medical care and support.”
Andrew was severely injured by a rocket-propelled grenade on operations in Afghanistan in 2010. He lost his entire right arm but was given the opportunity to become the first person in the country to participate in a revolutionary nerve transfer surgery known as targeted muscle reinnervation. After 18 months of rehabilitation, Andrew is now able to control movement of his prosthetic arm with his mind. Focusing his thoughts on the nerves connected to muscles in his chest he is now able to open and close his right hand. He added: “The surgery has made a massive improvement to my life. I have become a lot more independent and all the normal things I was struggling with have become so much easier. “I am now able to participate more in the kitchen – simple tasks like making a coffee, baking cakes and opening jars have made a real difference.”
Maureen Ryles was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list.
MBE for physio Maureen MAUREEN Ryles, lead for paediatric physiotherapy for combined child health at NHS Grampian, is celebrating after receiving an MBE in the New Year Honours list. Maureen has 36 years’ experience in physiotherapy, including at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and in health education. She now heads up a team of 25 serving the acute sector, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. When the official letter arrived, Maureen initially thought it was a ticket for parking or speeding. She said: “I couldn’t believe it. That someone could take the time to nominate me was amazing, but then
to be chosen for this award was overwhelming and humbling. I love my job, it’s so rewarding, and the NHS gives you so many opportunities. I feel that this award is not about me, it’s about our team.” The recognition also marks Maureen’s charity work. Over the past few years she has raised £10,000 by completing the Paris Marathon and the Moon Walk. Maureen combines her role as a manager with providing physiotherapy to young patients at RACH. She is part of the cystic fibrosis team which looks after preterm babies and also works with children with developmental delays.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Specialist defends Heather Mills after boot dispute ends Paralympic dream NEWS
By Dominic Musgrave THE specialist behind Heather Mills’ bid for Olympic glory has spoken out after she abandoned her attempt to qualify for the British Paralympic skiing team following a dispute over her boot. Heather had her left leg amputated below the knee after a collision with a police motorbike in 1993 and joined the British development ski team in 2010, winning a World Cup silver medal to put her in a strong position for a place in the team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, she has struggled with injuries throughout her qualification campaign, particularly when learning how to slalom for the first time, which regularly resulted in her being ‘ejected’ from her prosthetic leg. A new design, created by the London Prosthetics Centre, helped stabilise the problem. But her management company said she was forced by the International Paralympic Committee to wear a new boot cover over the new prosthetic, resulting in ‘unnecessary weight’ and ‘intolerable pain’.
“Skiing biomechanics is incredibly complicated when trying to analyse able bodied turning, edging and pressuring of the ski, and even more so when it comes to amputee skiing.” Abdo Haidar, the specialist prosthetist who worked for over a year to find an ideal solution, has leapt to her defence. He said: “Heather is no stranger to adversity. She suffered five highspeed skiing accidents throughout her training, all of which led to her being hospitalised, and even airlifted off the slope on one occasion. “The accidents resulted in a number of injuries, including fractures to Heather’s left shoulder, a snapped anterior cruciate ligament and a smashed scapula. However, she was incredibly determined to succeed. “We went through a year-long
process of fine-tuning, and over 15 appointments, to create a prosthesis which could provide maximum control and manoeuvrability and allow Heather to take corners close to the ground. “A key feature was the design and fit of the socket, which resulted in significantly reduced limb and socket movement and enhanced control and focus. “Skiing biomechanics is incredibly complicated when trying to analyse able bodied turning, edging and pressuring of the ski, and even more so when it comes to amputee skiing. “A below knee amputee such as Heather, has suffered the loss of the ankle joint, resulting in reduced knee control, and we spent a lot of time trying to design a skiing prosthesis which would compensate for this and enable Heather to ski freely. “Everything was going remarkably well and with Heather’s incredible drive and courage, I was sure she would go all the way to the Paralympic Games in 2014. “Heather has worked so hard and it is very sad that all dreams have been shattered in this way.”
Heather Mills has abandoned her hopes of competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics after a dispute over her boot.
New clinics launched to help primary amputees build their confidence LIMBPOWER has launched a new initiative to help primary amputees build confidence, strength, stability and empower them in the early stages of their lives as amputees.
The new Advanced Rehabilitation Clinics aim to bridge the current gap that exists between the rehab offered by the NHS, and the ability to participate in sports, fitness and lifestyle activities. The current service teaches amputees how to walk using their artificial limb with training on basic techniques, but there is much more that could be done to aid amputees in the early stages of rehabilitation which would have a huge impact on their quality of life. Research shows that participation in physical activity enhances the lives of amputees, reducing the risk of medical interventions such as knee and hip replacements and even improving life expectancy. Kiera Roche, LimbPower founder, said: “Back in 2006 I attended a running clinic where I was taught the basic techniques of running, but what really opened my eyes were the 10
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
day-to-day benefits of the stability exercises and leg strengthening exercises I was taught to improve my gait and balance. “We have used these techniques within our own successful ‘Learn to Run’ clinics since then, but the Advanced Rehab Clinics will allow us to reach those new amputees who are yet to even consider sport as something for them and help them to get the most from their prosthetics.” The one-day course will be a mix of educational and practical training sessions focussing on core stability, proprioception of the artificial limb, gait training exercises and general health and fitness. It will encourage new amputees to take control of their own rehabilitation and well being and equip them to take part in any sport or activity they choose. The first Advanced Rehab Clinic will be on March 27 at Roehampton University. To find out more email Roche at Kiera@limbpower.com
We stick our neck out to provide postural products NEWS
2014 begins a very exciting time for Jenx as we introduce Jiraffe, the new sales and distribution division.
Mayor of East Staffordshire, Coun Michael Rogers, cuts the ribbon with his consort Julie Killoran and Dorset Orthopaedic clinic manager Mark Woolsey.
Mayor opens new clinic DORSET Orthopaedic hosted an open day for clients, partners, suppliers, charities and other special guests at its new Midlands state-of the-art clinic. The new improved site at Bretby Business Park in Burton upon Trent includes orthotic clinical services, prosthetic clinical services, silicone services, legal services, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Managing director David Hills said: “We are committed to listening to our clients and with a growing demand for our services to be
available more locally; we took the opportunity to design a state-of-theart clinic in Burton upon Trent. “We are now able to provide our clients, based in the Midlands, direct access to all our services including the latest bionic and silicone technology currently available.” Mayor of East Staffordshire Coun Michael Rogers cut the ribbon for the grand opening, with guests then invited to watch demonstrations of the products and services that Dorset Orthopaedic provides.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
We want to make a real difference to people’s lives – children and adults, as well as carers – because Jenx Ltd firmly believe everyone is entitled to have a happy and fulfilling life. The launch of Jiraffe provides us with the opportunity to achieve that more than ever before and we’re very excited for what the future holds. Every position a child adopts has an effect on their development and functional movement, both now and in the future. No one understands this better than we do at Jiraffe. As part of Jenx Ltd, Jiraffe specialises in sourcing and providing postural care equipment and support for everybody, whether they’re at home, school, rest or play. With over 30 years’ experience of working with children and adults with special postural needs, our team are dedicated to bringing you the latest, most innovative and highest quality specialist products and services we can. By working closely with children, carers, families, therapists and funding bodies, and taking the time to understand everyone’s needs, we
aim to provide you with the products and services you need. The Jiraffe range covers all aspects of everyday life from seating and standing, to mobility and sleeping, to therapy and bathroom equipment, and we’re adding new products regularly too. All our products are aimed at enabling people to experience a wider range of activities in comfort. Our experienced Jiraffe product advisors boast a wealth of knowledge, and they’re there to offer information and guidance. They’d be glad to discuss how the Jiraffe range can help you or to arrange an assessment visit. Don’t forget to ask about APPROVE too – our flexible equipment provision scheme that reduces costs and improves service. Check out our new website Jiraffe.org.uk for a wealth of useful and interesting information and support.
University’s study looks at how to improve language after a stroke By Dominic Musgrave
after stroke and ways to improve this.
RESEARCHERS from the University of York’s Department of Psychology are carrying out a new study examining whether electrical stimulation of the brain can improve the understanding of words and pictures after a stroke.
“It is thought that knowledge about the meanings of things is often maintained in the brain after stroke, but that the sorting mechanism is lost. It’s a bit like a library without a catalogue.
They are testing whether a technique called Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation can be used to help recovery of comprehension, even for those who had a stroke several years ago. The research is funded by the Stroke Association.
“Only the brightest book covers – the strongly remembered items – can be picked out properly.
The technique involves placing two pads on the head and passing a very small electrical current through these pads for around 20 minutes. This stimulates the brain cells underneath and causes them to increase their activity, leading to better performance on a wide range of tasks. Effects can last beyond the session itself, and have previously been shown to last at least several months after finishing the study. Professor Beth Jefferies, who is leading the York research, said: “Our research is exploring comprehension
“We are excited by the possibilities of tDCS, particularly for those people who haven’t fully regained their abilities and no longer receive speech and language therapy or physiotherapy.” She warned, however, that the effects may not be seen in everyone, and they can be very subtle because the current is so small. In previous studies, not everybody benefited from tDCS, and it is often those who find the task most difficult that benefit the most. Beth added: “The technique is not painful, and it is fairly cheap and portable, so if the research finds that the method improves comprehension, it could be used to improve the outcomes of speech and
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Hannah Thompson and Glyn Hallam, postdoctoral researchers in Psychology, who are working on the project.
language therapy. “While there is no pain with this method, people can feel an itchy or hot feeling on the scalp.” The researchers are seeking volunteers from Yorkshire and the surrounding area who have had a stroke at least six months ago and
who might be willing to take part in the study. The researchers want to compare stroke patients with healthy volunteers aged from 45 – 85, for studies on language and memory problems that do not involve electrical stimulation.
Orthopaedic surgeon performs operations on 10-day Kenya trip DORSET County Hospital consultant orthopaedic surgeon Nick Savva joined a dedicated team of healthcare professionals from the South West of England to perform much needed operations in Kenya. Nick spent 10 days in Nanyuki in rural Kenya as part of an orthopaedic trauma team representing the Kenyan Orthopaedic Project. The team of surgeons, physiotherapists, radiographers, theatre practitioners, anaesthetists and medical students performed 30 major trauma procedures that would otherwise not be available or affordable locally. Nick said it was a fabulous trip, adding: “It gave me the opportunity to visit a wonderful country with an exceptionally motivated team of healthcare professionals. “These trips have been running for
several years now and the impact that they have on the local community is very obvious from the outset. “On our arrival we were met by 40 to 50 patients hoping to be treated with more arriving every day. The surgery was challenging and the conditions difficult but the team were prepared for all the problems thrown at us. “We had excellent opportunities to work with the local surgical team and it is fair to say that we both learnt from each other. The majority of procedures were performed with another orthopaedic surgeon from the UK which is a very valuable opportunity that we seldom get at home. Dorset County Hospital was generous enough to give me leave for the trip, recognising the benefits that this type of work provides both at home and abroad. I would relish the opportunity of another trip in the future.”
Robotic device could aid footankle rehab By Dominic Musgrave A SOFT, wearable device that mimics the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the lower leg could aid in the rehabilitation of patients with anklefoot disorders such as drop foot, it has been claimed. Yong-Lae Park, an assistant professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, has been working with collaborators at Harvard University, the University of Southern California, MIT and BioSensics, to develop an active orthotic device using soft plastics and composite materials, instead of a rigid exoskeleton. The soft materials, combined with pneumatic artificial muscles, lightweight sensors and advanced control software, made it possible for the robotic device to achieve natural motions in the ankle. Park, who did the work while a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, said the same approach could be used to create rehabilitative devices for other joints of the body or even to create soft exoskeletons that increase the strength of the wearer. He added: “The robotic device would be suitable for aiding people with neuromuscular disorders of the foot and ankle associated with cerebral palsy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis or stroke. “These gait disorders include drop foot, in which the forefoot drops because of weakness or paralysis, and equinus, in which the upward bending motion of the ankle is limited. Conventional passive ankle braces can improve gait, but longterm use can lead to muscle atrophy because of disuse. “The limitation of a traditional exoskeleton is that it limits the
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
natural degrees of freedom of the body. “The ankle is naturally capable of a complicated three-dimensional motion, but most rigid exoskeletons allow only a single pivot point.” The soft orthotic device enabled the researchers to mimic the biological structure of the lower leg. The device’s artificial tendons were attached to four PAMs, which correspond with three muscles in the foreleg and one in the back that control ankle motion. The prototype was capable of generating an ankle range of sagittal motion of 27 degrees — sufficient for a normal walking gait. However, the soft device is more difficult to control than a rigid exoskeleton. It therefore required more sophisticated sensing to track the position of the ankle and foot, and a more intelligent scheme for controlling foot motion. Park said: “Among the innovations in the device are sensors made of a touch-sensitive artificial skin, thin rubber sheets that contain long microchannels filled with a liquid metal alloy. “When these rubber sheets are stretched or pressed, the shapes of the microchannels change, which in turn causes changes in the electrical resistance of the alloy. These sensors were positioned on the top and at the side of the ankle.” He added that additional work will be necessary to improve the wearability of the device. This includes artificial muscles that are less bulky than the commercially produced PAMs used in this project. The device has yet to be tested on patients to determine its performance as a rehabilitative tool.
‘Bionic man’ shows off ‘Terminatorlike’ hand at Moscow conference NEWS
By Dominic Musgrave A CAMBRIDGESHIRE man who was fitted with a ‘Terminator-like’ bebionic3 hand recently attended a conference in Moscow. Following a celebrated appearance at the GF2045 conference in New York, Nigel Ackland was invited to attend a series of global events, culminating with the Russian National Innovation Convention at the Moscow State Technological University. The conference, which drew in 800 participants, showcased the latest innovative, high-tech ideas. Those attending were able to see Nigel’s bionic arm 'close-up', and learn more about new technologies in life extension, prosthetics and brain function from the world's leading scientists. Nigel, who has had almost three million views on YouTube, was joined by several leading authors, innovators, business leaders, and academics, was overwhelmed by the reception: “It was an incredible experience,” he added. “My life has changed quite dramatically and I’m still surprised by
“Psychologically I couldn’t be without my bebionic hand. I can hold the phone, shake hands and wash my left hand normally, which I haven’t been able to do for five years.” the reaction of people. Not long ago I’d become used to people being hesitant at best but now everything is quite the opposite, which is great. “This technology is literally a part of me and I guess the public fascination is with how far technology has progressed.” After undergoing months of surgery along with several less advanced prosthetics, the 53-year-old former precious metal smelter, who lost his forearm in an industrial accident several years ago, rediscovered a wide range of control through RSLSteeper's 'Terminator-style’ bionics. He has now fully mastered the
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Nigel Ackland with his bebionic3 hand.
functions of his new prosthetic: “Psychologically I couldn’t be without my bebionic hand,” added Nigel. “I can hold the phone, shake hands and wash my left hand normally, which I haven’t been able to do for five years. “I’m back to being a two finger typist and can even do a very interesting
hand signal which I call the 15th function, not particularly functional perhaps, but the psychological benefit is immense. “Overall, the bebionic hand has had a great impact on my life, not only does it look more like a human hand but it also functions more like a human hand.”
Physio Emma helps England win hockey bronze A CONSULTANT physiotherapist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham recently returned from Argentina where she helped the England hockey team win a bronze medal. Emma Batchelor has a track record in supporting medal winners after helping the Great Britain women’s hockey team win a bronze medal at the London Olympics, their first medal for 20 years. England beat the hosts 4-2 in a dramatic shoot-out at the World League final – a competition which decides whowill qualify alongside the continental champions and hosts for the future Olympic and International Hockey Federation world cups. Emma, who previously worked as a physiotherapist with England Netball, said: “The tournament in Argentina
was a good test at this stage of our Olympic cycle and the bronze medal was well deserved. “The challenges of playing at temperatures often reaching 40°C meant we had to ensure the team were kept well hydrated and recovered well, along with normal management of injuries and maintenance work carried out by the sport science and medical staff. “The next competition sees me travelling with the team to America in February for matches against the USA and New Zealand in preparation for the Hockey World Cup in Holland in June.” Emma is a consultant physiotherapist and works alongside Dr Leon Creaney within the hospital’s Sport and Exercise Medicine service.
Researchers using film industry technology to analyse stroke patients By Dominic Musgrave RESEARCHERS in Gothenburg have been using 3D technology from the film industry to analyse the everyday movements of stroke patients. The results indicate that computerised motion analysis increases our knowledge of how stroke patients can improve their ability to move through rehabilitation. In the film and video game industry, motion capture technology is used to convert people's movements into computer animations – famous examples include the character Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and Na'vi from the blockbuster film Avatar. Margit Alt Murphy and her research colleagues at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, brought the technology into the research laboratory.
"With 3D animation, we can measure the joint angle, speed and smoothness of the arm motion, as well as which compensating motion patterns the stroke patient is using.” complement to a physician's clinical diagnosis and an important tool in diagnosing motion problems". In the study, the test subjects were equipped with small, round reflex balls on their arm, trunk and head, and they were then instructed to drink water out of a glass.
In a unique study, researchers used motion-capture technology to film everyday movements among approximately 100 people, both healthy people and people who suffered a stroke.
The motion is documented by highspeed cameras whose infrared light is reflected by the balls and sent back to the computer where they create a 3D animated image in the form of a stick figure.
The 3D animations have provided a completely new level of detail in terms of mobility in stroke patients – knowledge that can help patients achieve more effective rehabilitation.
"With 3D animation, we can measure the joint angle, speed and smoothness of the arm motion, as well as which compensating motion patterns the stroke patient is using,” added Margit. “This give us a measurement for the motion that we can compare with an optimal arm motion in a healthy person.
Margit said: "Computer technology provides better and more objective documentation of the problem in terms of the everyday life of the patient than what human observation can provide. “With 3D technology, we can measure a patient’s movements in terms of numbers, which means that small changes in the motion pattern can be detected and can be fed back to the patient in a clear manner. "Our results show that computerised motion analysis could be a
“Our study shows that the time it takes to perform an activity is strongly related to the motion quality. “Even if this technology is not available, we can still obtain very valuable information about the stroke patient’s mobility by timing a highly standardized activity, and every therapist keeps a stopwatch in their pocket.”
Firm continues to grow V-M Orthotics Ltd has been operating since 1985 and has accrued a wealth of expertise within the orthotics industry over the years with what started out as, and remains, a family run business. As well as the Darco and Heelift ranges, we also manufacture and supply our own series of Multifit products and source a variety of innovative products to complement our existing catalogues. Our customers are drawn from across the healthcare spectrum, ranging from community and hospital based NHS establishments, trade companies, care homes as 20
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
well as members of the public. We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service with well-trained staff, responsive to customer needs. We carry comprehensive stock levels enabling us to offer a prompt and efficient delivery service with competitive prices that are available to all. We continue to grow from strength to strength, finding new products and ways to enhance our service. We regularly attend national conferences and organise workshops and training events with our valued customers.
Race2Recovery team makes history again at ‘the world’s toughest race’ By Dominic Musgrave
forced to withdraw.
THE Race2Recovery team of injured soldiers and civilian volunteers competing in the 2014 Dakar rally made history for the second year running by once again finishing the ‘world’s toughest race’.
Speaking at the finish line, Corporal Whittingham said: "I'm so proud of the team. To finish one Dakar, last year, was amazing. To finish a second consecutive Dakar is just unbelievable. The whole team pulled together and worked extremely hard and we're really grateful for the support we've had from the fans, the media, our sponsors, especially Land Rover, and other teams and competitors in the event, particularly the Red Bull Desert Wings team.
The team, sponsored by Land Rover, became the first ever disabled team to finish the Dakar in 2013 and, by successfully crossing the line in the 2014 event, they have written themselves into the record books once again. The race truck's on-board team included Corporal Daniel Whittingham, from Nottingham, a below the knee amputee after injuries sustained in an IED explosion when serving in Afghanistan. He, along with truck driver Mark Cullum, from Hereford, and co-driver Chris Ratter, from Knutsford, battled across some of the world's toughest terrain, including the Atacama Desert and Andes mountain range, before arriving at the final check point after more than 9,100km of racing. A total of 204 vehicles completed the 2014 Dakar, meaning just over half of racers across all categories were
"It was tough keeping the truck in the race and a real challenge for the driver and both us co-drivers. We were often finishing the stage with very little turnaround time before starting the next one, so sleep wasn’t on the really on the agenda. “There are so many obstacles out here as well; the terrain, the climate, all the time pressures whilst also needing to keep a cool head. As one of the injured members of the team, I also had to ensure I looked after my prosthetic and ensured I was in the best possible shape which is vital in these surroundings with the dust and high temperatures.”
The Race2Recovery race truck crew of Chris Ratter, Daniel Whittingham and Mark Cullum celebrate at the finish line. Picture credit: Gaucho Productions.
More than 500 exhibitors from 40 countries will be showcasing their new products at the event. Picture credit: Leipziger Messe/Uwe Frauendorf
300 speakers set for OTWorld OTWorld, to be held in Leipzig from May 13-16, is all about interdisciplinary and global dissemination of knowledge. At the World Congress more than 300 speakers from 30 countries will be providing up-to-date information and discussing the latest options for treatment, together with current trends in the fields of prosthetics, orthotics, orthopaedic footwear technology, technical rehabilitation and compression therapy, as well as lymphology and podiatry. Well-known international keynote 22
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
speakers and interdisciplinary dialogue at the highest professional level between technicians, doctors and physiotherapists set the agenda for the programme. More than 500 exhibitors from 40 countries will be showcasing their new products at the world's leading trade fair in its field. 20,000 trade and professional visitors from 100 countries are expected to attend the Leipzig Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre for the sector's largest and most important event. This year's partner nation is Russia.
Grandmother June praises awardwinning hospital wristband scheme A GRANDMOTHER-of-eight has praised the team of physiotherapists who helped her back on her feet thanks to an innovative new wristband scheme to prevent her falling in hospital. Colours Reducing Falls is an awardwinning programme launched at the Livingstone Hospital in Dartford run by Kent Community Health NHS Trust. All patients are assessed by the physiotherapy team, which decides how much help they need and what their risk of falling might be. They are given a red, yellow or green wrist band to alert other staff. Senior physiotherapist Sam Gohir said: “We trialled this programme two years ago as a simple way of making sure all staff in our hospital knew the needs of every patient. It allows us to take into account all the factors that might affect a patients fall risk, such as if they have dementia, mobility issues or a lack of confidence. It has worked fantastically well and in the first six months the number of falls at the Livingstone had reduced by 50 per cent. “Patients who are most at risk and
need close supervision are given a red band, those with a yellow are improving but still need some assistance and those with a green band are considered to be independent. Patients are monitored throughout their stay at the hospital by the nursing team.”
June Gildea, 75, from Gravesend, suffered a fall at her home while she was playing with her daughter’s dog Bella and fractured her hip. After an operation at Darent Valley Hospital she was moved to the Livingstone Hospital for treatment and rehabilitation to help her back on her feet and return safely home. When June arrived at the Livingstone, she was assessed by the physiotherapy team and given a yellow band. But thanks to a series of exercises and therapy, she has now progressed to green and will shortly be discharged. June said: “I really like the colourful arm bands because it means all the people caring for you know how much help you need. “The staff have been really supportive and it has encouraged me to work hard and do my exercises
Physiotherapy assistants Julie Henderson and Deborah Eves with June Gildea – all wearing the coloured wrist bands.
and move up to the green band. I felt like I had won a medal when they promoted me. It has given me the confidence to know I will be ok when it’s time to go home.” The team behind the scheme has been recognised by the Community Hospitals Association for the effective and simple way they have improved patient care. They have been invited to an awards ceremony in
Manchester where they will present the scheme, the only one of its kind in Kent, at the CHA conference. The system has been so successful that it has been launched on the Sapphire Unit at Gravesham Community Hospital, which has also seen a significant reduction in falls, and will be rolled out across all community hospitals run by Kent Community Health NHS Trust.
The world’s first 3D printed foot orthosis THE world’s first available functional foot orthosis manufactured with 3D printing was recently launched by Peacocks Medical Group at the SCP conference in Liverpool. The new device is called Podfo and it is setting new standards in design capability for the profession. Selective laser sintering is one of the technologies which make up ‘additive manufacturing’, also known as 3D printing. It utilises layer manufacturing to make devices, such as the Podfo FFO. The FFO originates as a 3D computer model, in a digital file format, which is then converted into a code giving the manufacturing machine accurate instructions to fabricate the item. This method of fabrication allows design flexibility and the incorporation of features such as seamless zones of compliance within the single piece orthosis. Podfo has a superior strength to weight ratio allowing the ability to produce slim low profile orthosis without compromising strength and durability. David Eardley, clinical services manager and podiatrist at Peacocks,
said: “My patients have commented on the Podfo’s lightness and contoured fit and by incorporating variable thickness, it completely changes what I am able to do therapeutically. The FFO is also washable at domestic appliance temperatures and can be autoclaved, maximising the hygienic factor.” Clinicians can now take advantage of this new technology by sending scans, digital models, casts or foam impressions along with the patient’s prescription to Peacocks. These are then modelled on CAD software to incorporate the appropriate prescription and produce the Podfo FFO’s. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, heralds a new era in FFO design and manufacture. With this in mind, Peacocks has partnered with Glasgow Caledonian University to deliver a specific education programme as an insight and understanding of how it will apply to clinical practice. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Princess Royal visits Leeds Met in which the course has been put together will make a major difference in your future endeavours.”
By Dominic Musgrave
HRH The Princess Royal visited Leeds Metropolitan University as part of a one day visit to Yorkshire. HRH, who is Patron of the College of Occupational Therapists, attended a conference organised by MSc Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy students at the University’s City Campus. HRH The Princess Royal was given a tour of the University’s recently installed Clinical Skills Suite, which consists of a high-tech simulation suite with critical care bed, high-tech human patient simulator, a film recording system and viewing room, a community living space with a ceiling hoist and adapted equipment, as well as four teaching rooms equipped for the teaching and safe practice of a range of healthcare skills. She then met physiotherapy and occupational therapy students before delivering a speech at the conference in the University’s Rose Bowl. In her speech HRH praised the students for their dedication, adding: “I hope all of you are here because you feel that this is a caring role, a role very particular to occupational therapists and physiotherapists.
The MSc Occupational Therapy and MSc Physiotherapy end of course conference showcased the achievements of the students and was themed around innovative practice and entrepreneurship. It was attended by a variety of people representing local NHS trusts, NHS England, charities, social enterprises and commissioners, as well as students, lecturers and clinicians from across the county. The conference allowed the final year students to reflect on their learning experiences and achievements throughout their training. HRH The Princess Royal speaks to physiotherapy and occupational therapy students during her visit to Leeds Metropolitan University.
“This course is allowing you to pursue that as well as you possibly can and to grow your own natural enthusiasm and understanding of what that means. “Here at Leeds Metropolitan, bringing this course together and developing it as an MSc alongside the facilities you have at your disposal certainly make your roles a
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
lot easier. “The way in which you can enjoy placements as much as possible to help you fulfil your particular ambition does make a real difference in terms of your ability to understand what you’ll be doing next. “I’m sure that this course and the people you’ve worked with, the way
Senior lecturer Rob Brooks, who was instrumental in organising the visit, added: “I was delighted that The Princess Royal was able to attend the Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy student conference in her role as the patron of the College of Occupational Therapists. “She is an excellent ambassador for the profession and it was fantastic for her to meet our students and seeing the excellent clinical, academic and research training that we provide at Leeds Metropolitan University.”
‘Conformer’ boot – a new replacement for Total Contact Casting THE current ‘gold standard’ treatment for reducing plantar pressures in diabetic patients is of course, Total Contact Casting. The Pace team who competed in the fifth ‘Pednor 10’.
Amputees finish five-mile run SEVEN amputees were among 200 runners who competed in the fifth ‘Pednor 10’ charity run on the rural edge of Chesham in Buckinghamshire. Organised by the Arctic One Foundation, the challenging five-mile loop navigated through the picturesque rolling countryside of the Chiltern Hills and consisted of two laps for individual runners or one lap each for two-person relay teams. Proceeds from the event were split equally amongst five amputees – Andy Lewis, Helen Chapman, Rio Woolf, Keira Roche and Kieran Maxwell – to enable them to purchase sports limbs. Arctic One founder Matt Kirby said: “A running blade can enable a lower
limb amputee to have a more natural running gait and participate in sport in the same way as able bodied athletes. “Arctic One helps able bodied and disabled people to get involved in sport, so we are thrilled to be able to assist these worthy recipients.” Also running were fellow amputees Scott Richardson and Jamie Gillespie from nearby Pace Rehabilitation. The company was also represented by its GB Paratriathlon patient Clare Cunningham. As a result of entry fees, a raffle and donations from The Pednor 10, The Arctic One Foundation presented each of the amputee recipients with £700 to help fund their running devices and compete in future events.
Things may be about to change. There is a new walker boot on the market, the ‘Conformer’ which has been proven to outperform Total Contact Casting by 30 per cent in terms of peak pressure reduction. In the report, first published in Foot and Ankle International, it was found that the Conformer performs “even better than a total contact cast to reduce the force, pressure and pressure-time integral under the plantar surface of the foot”. It saves time and money too, with no need for custom insoles. The technologically advanced Automold™ foam insole conforms to the shape of the foot and prevents movement to avoid skin breakdown, while the dual density mid-sole foam insert promotes perimeter loading. With a rocker sole for easier walking with less energy, the Conformer is extremely patient-friendly, as well as cost efficient and time saving.
The ‘Conformer’ has been proven to outperform Total Contact Casting.
Manufactured by Bledsoe and now available as part of the Chaneco range, this revolutionary walker will be a major feature on Chaneco’s stand at BAPO this year. Enquiries: For more information visit www.chaneco.co.uk or call 01604 709999.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Paralympian Richard to mentor next generation of Britain’s athletes PARALYMPIC legend Richard Whitehead MBE has joined Nissan to help mentor a generation of British athletes on the road to Rio. Richard, who recently starred on ITV’s Saturday night prime-time show Splash!, and six-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy, will be a key part of the official automotive partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB’s #UniteAndExcite campaign that will provide fans with exclusive behind the scenes access to athlete’s stories and preparation, and news of how Nissan’s innovative technology will enhance performance. The pair will also be encouraging fans to use #UniteAndExcite to pass on Twitter messages of support to Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes at the Sochi Winter Games. Richard said: “I have competed in both Winter and Summer Paralympics and hope that by passing on my experience I can be
Richard Whitehead MBE has joined Nissan’s #UniteAndExcite campaign.
of help to the next generation of British Paralympians. I’m thrilled to be part of Nissan’s plans and, as I still have my own aspirations for Rio 2016, I’m looking forward to working closely with Nissan through to 2016.”
Jade Jones and her coach Ian Thompson.
Jade’s road to Rio given a boost by Teesside facilities By Dominic Musgrave
seeing an improvement in my times.”
PARALYMPIAN Jade Jones is determined to be among the medals at Rio 2016 and is using state-of-theart facilities at Teesside University to enhance her chances.
Jade, who recently completed her ALevels, is being trained by Ian Thompson – husband of 11 time Paralympic gold medallist Tanni GreyThompson.
Jade, who represented Great Britain at London 2012, is using the University’s specialist environmental chamber to prepare for the gruelling conditions.
“It was Tanni who encouraged me to give racing a try during a school sports day,” added Jade. “I hated it at first, but it wasn’t long before I was entering competitive races and to have people like Tanni and Ian by my side with so much experience is fantastic.”
The unique chamber, which recreates exact climate conditions, allows Jade to race in the same sweltering heat she can expect to face in Rio. Teesside University is the only place in the country that can facilitate the use of a wheelchair within an environmental chamber using a hightech treadmill and custom-made ergometer – giving Jade’s training regime a real boost. She said: “I recently competed in Indianapolis – that was a real shock as I was racing in temperatures exceeding 40 degrees. The only preparation I had done was on the treadmill in the garage with the tumble dryer on.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Jade competed at the London 2012 paralympics in the 400m, 800m and the final of the 1,500m. “It was an amazing experience and something that I will never forget,” she said. “My goal now is Rio 2016. I want to do everything I can to give myself a chance of being among the medals and with the training regime here at Teesside University and the access to the environmental chamber I am feeling more and more confident.”
“Using the environmental chamber here at Teesside University is fantastic – both for my training and preparation.
Ian added: “This is the only place in the country where a wheelchair user can race on a treadmill within an environmental chamber. Being able to accurately recreate climate conditions is great for Jade’s training.
“I am also receiving support and advice from the University’s Sport Science staff, who are extremely knowledgeable and I am already
“She has so much potential and with the help of the staff at Teesside University I think we can get close to those medals in Rio.”
Real people, real stories – the lives changed by upper limb technology IN recent years, the advances made in upper limb prostheses have transformed an area of the prosthetics industry that had remained undeveloped for years. While developments in electronic leg, knee and ankle technologies forged ahead, the design of electrically powered prosthetic hands remained rigid, three-fingered, claw-like devices. In 2007, everything changed. The world saw the first prosthetic hand to offer five individually powered fingers that curled around objects in a similar way to the human hand. The hand, known as the i-limb was developed by Scottish company, Touch Bionics. Since then, the company has released improved versions of its full hand prosthesis and expanding their offering to prosthetic options for people with missing fingers with its ilimb digits product line. But what difference have these technologies made to the lives of the people who use them? Two people who wear bionic hand and finger prosthetics reveal how their lives have been changed by them.
Patrick Kane didn't have an easy start in life – aged just nine months he contracted meningococcal septicaemia. This horrific illness resulted in a three-month spell in intensive care and, while doctors were ultimately successful in saving Patrick's life, they were unable to do so without tragic consequences: the amputation of his right leg below the knee, most of his left hand, and part of each finger on his right hand. In 2010, and aged just 13, Patrick became the youngest person in the world to be fitted with an i-limb hand prosthesis from Touch Bionics. A few weeks after being fitted with the i-limb, Patrick said: “Everything is different. It's the little things that are important, like being able to hold a glass while you pour into it, or being able to cut up the food on my plate, rather than having someone else do it for me.” In April 2013, Patrick was fitted with the i-limb ultra revolution, a new and improved hand that features a powered rotating thumb and a mobile control app to allow selection of a wider range of hand movements and gestures.
He added: “The great thing about the i-limb ultra revolution is that it really allows me to do things much faster and more naturally. “I no longer have to use my other hand to adjust the thumb for different grip positions, and the app means that I can access so many different options at any time because it's all on my phone.” After an accident at work in 2009, Gary McKeown spent two years undergoing multiple surgeries, trying to get function back in his left hand. Despite these attempts Gary experienced no significant improvement and ultimately decided to amputate the remaining fingers of his hand. As he was not a candidate for a full-hand prosthesis, Gary searched for partial hand prosthetic options and discovered i-limb digits from Touch Bionics. In 2012, Gary was fitted with his prosthesis which fits snugly around his hand and allows him to make a wide range of movements that help him to create the appropriate grips he needs in his daily life. His i-limb digits prosthesis allows him
to pick up and grasp objects securely and helps to reduce reliance on his right hand. “Using i-limb digits has helped me gain my independence back,” he added. “I can now cut up my own food instead of asking friends or family. I love the robotic look of my prosthesis and it is a brilliant tool helping with things you take for granted such as fastening my own shoe laces, using cutlery or carrying cases.”
Previously he would hide his hand from view, but now he is proud to show off his prosthesis and show to others what he uses it for. Gary said: “I consider my prosthesis as part of my body now. I will never get my hand back but my prosthesis is a better replacement than I ever thought was possible and has had such a positive impact on my life.” These stories help to shed some light into the lives of real people whose lives have been transformed through the innovation and expertise of companies like Touch Bionics. They show us that, far from being something from the future, bionic prosthetics are making a difference.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
The day was organised by the hospital’s orthotic’s team in partnership with Peacocks Medical Group.
Patient forum helps to shape new shoes PATIENTS who use Airedale Hospital’s orthotic service have helped to shape a new range of footwear to ease a variety of foot problems in the first event of its kind. The patient forum day was organised by the hospital’s orthotic’s team in partnership with Peacocks Medical Group, a northern based manufacturer of specialist footwear. It was held in the hospital’s education centre and the aim was to encourage people who use the service to feedback on how they felt about their current footwear, and to suggest areas of improvement for the future. Around 20 patients took part in the event and met clinical and product development staff from Peacocks to develop two new ‘Airedale styles’ – one for men and the other for women. Duncan Ferguson, director of orthotics at Peacocks, discussed with the group how orthotic shoes are made and designed to meet clinical
needs of patients. Elaine Coope, mobility services manager at Airedale NHS Trust, said: “We were delighted with the feedback we received, It was a really interesting event, our female patients were very active in providing ideas for fresh looks and bright colours, whereas the men were more interested in function. “All comments by our service users will be analysed to help produce new footwear which will be presented to a patient forum early next year.” Peacocks currently manufacture and supply bespoke orthotic footwear to the hospital custom-made for each individual’s needs, but their new development will be a range of offthe-shelf stock, which can be adapted to suit prescriptions. The new range will be able to cater for extra wide and deep fittings, but also foot problems and deformities caused by diabetes, rheumatology conditions and other illnesses or accidents.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
Painful foot osteoarthritis affects one in six over 50s By Dominic Musgrave
housework and shopping.
NEW research from Keele University has shown painful foot osteoarthritis to be more common than previously thought, impacting one in six UK adults over the age of 50.
The study used recently developed methods to include instances of osteoarthritis in the middle of the foot, which had been excluded from past studies because of difficulties detecting the condition at certain joints.
The large-scale study has shown the disease has a significant impact on the lives of people affected, such as reducing the ability to perform simple everyday tasks. Led by Keele’s Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, the study included more than 5,000 people to investigate the condition, which affects the joints and causes around one million people to visit their GP every year. Typical features include inflammation in and around the joints, damage to cartilage and swelling of the bone, causing pain, stiffness and difficulty moving. The research found painful foot osteoarthritis affects women more than men, with the condition becoming more common in people who have spent their lives predominantly in manual work. While previous studies have focussed on purely x-ray findings, this is the first research into foot osteoarthritis to factor in pain and the impact on people’s lives. Three quarters of people with painful foot osteoarthritis reported having difficulty with simple day-to-day activities such as walking, standing,
Dr Edward Roddy, clinical senior lecturer in rheumatology at Keele University, said: “Foot osteoarthritis is a more common and disabling problem than we previously thought, making everyday tasks difficult and painful for people affected. “While it’s been known for decades that joints in the foot can be affected by osteoarthritis, much of the previous research has focussed on the hip and knee areas, and research into the foot has concentrated almost entirely on the ‘bunion joint’ at the base of the big toe. However, by looking at the whole foot and the impact on people’s lives, it’s clear the problem is more widespread than we anticipated. This is an area that needs much more research to understand the reasons why people develop osteoarthritis in their feet, and what we can do to help improve pain and suffering from this common condition. “ Doctors and other healthcare professionals should also be aware of osteoarthritis as a common cause of foot pain in this age group.”
The new ProTEM AX University seeks suit from Jobskin® stroke survivors for new project
THE ProTEM assessment suit is another new product from Jobskin.
It will provide clinicians with a tool that can be used to identify the effects of applying dynamic compression prior to making the decision for a made-to-measure SDO body garment. It fills a gap in the market where clinicians are increasingly being asked for evidence when securing funding for Lycra garments.
By Dominic Musgrave RESEARCHERS at Birmingham University are looking for volunteers to take part in a study which aims to develop tools to help stroke survivors with everyday tasks. The project called Cogwatch is investigating how stroke survivors suffer from problems with mental processes such as language, attention and memory, which make it difficult for them to carry out tasks with ordered sequences such as making a cup of tea, or brushing teeth.
This garment can be used to assess the impact of increasing sensory and proprioceptive feedback, as well as musculo-skeletal support. The assessment suit will provide clear indication of the impact of dynamic compression as well as patient compliance. For contact details see our advert on page 21.
Foot orthotics for high heels PRO-FIT Technologies Ltd has extended its popular CNC milled OCCO range with specifically designed orthoses for Ladies fashion shoes, football boots and other low volume footwear. Our unique forefoot stabilising feature is now available across the range, this allows the first ray to plantarflex while providing support to forefoot, enabling improved function of the windlass mechanism, resulting with more effective propulsion at toe off. No need to take casts or impressions, simply measure each foot and select the amount of control, left and right feet and forefoot and rearfoot can be specified individually.
SPECIAL OFFER!!! First three pairs at 50 per cent discount that’s just £22.50 per pair!!! Order online, email or call, superfast delivery. Each pair of foot orthoses are individually designed and manufactured in the UK, fully bespoke functional and soft EVA orthoses are also available. Enquiries: Contact Gary Wetton on 01623 422160, visit www.pro-fit-tech.co.uk or email email@example.com
Keeping your cast, dressing or PICC line dry when showering The LimbO is the leading waterproof protector for casts, dressings and PICC lines allowing the user to bathe or shower in comfort and with peace of mind. The LimbO is UK designed and manufactured. It consists of a PVC cover strengthened with nylon thread, plus a soft neoprene wide band seal designed to not restrict blood flow. The seal creates a friction barrier against water making the LimbO fully submergible. Both adult and child sizes are available and we are able to produce special orders. Over 750 hospitals and clinics recommend us and we work closely with specialists in podiatry, orthopaedics, wound care, tissue viability, burns, oncology and 30
These patients may have normal movement in their hands and arms, but struggle to complete everyday activities because they cannot execute the correct sequence of movements necessary to finish a task. This type of impairment is called ‘Apraxia and Action Disorganisation Syndrome’ and it is quite common in stroke survivors. The Cogwatch researchers are investigating the specific problems faced by AADS patients and are developing new technologies to assist them with their daily activities. Rosanna Laverick, from the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology, who is working on the study, said: “The ultimate aim is to
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
For more information visit www.limboproducts.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01243 573417.
“It will silently monitor them as they go about their daily routine and provide helpful and relevant information to guide them when they make errors.” The researchers will put sensors onto objects like cutlery or a tea kettle, which monitor orientation, motion and grip strength. A central processing system will wirelessly collect the data from the objects to assess how they are being handled and used. During a task such as making a cup of tea the system will track the actions of the user. When an error is detected, such as the user forgot to switch the kettle on, the system will alert the user and provide guidance to help them complete the task Help comes to the user in the form of relevant images on a display screen or audible sound or instructions. Rosanna added: “We hope that a system like this will also make users more aware of the errors they make, so they can learn to overcome them and also alert them if their safety is at risk.”
Clinic to support future stars A NEW physiotherapy clinic to support sport at all levels across Wales and educate sports physiotherapists of the future has opened at Cardiff University. The School of Healthcare Sciences’ Inspire Performance Clinic will bring together some of Wales’ leading physiotherapists with state-of-theart technology to provide a centre of excellence for sports physiotherapy in Wales. Located within the University’s Talybont Sports Village, the clinic will address a growing demand for physiotherapy provision, and develop the ongoing engagement
diabetes. The LimbO is an affordable solution and can be purchased quickly over the phone or via our website, and the lower leg models are also available on prescription. A number of outdoor protectors are also available for those rainy days and active children.
develop a personalised rehabilitation system that can be installed into the homes of stroke survivors.
activity to support individuals of all abilities to participate in sport and exercise. It will also provide valuable clinical experience for students to enable them to help prevent and treat sports injuries using the most up-to-date patient education and performance measurement technology. Professor Sheila Hunt, head of the School of Healthcare Sciences, said: “This latest development will significantly enhance the undergraduate and postgraduate experience. It will provide valuable supervised clinical experience in the sport and exercise sector for students studying at Cardiff.”
Gloreha Lite arrives in the UK GLOREHA Professional (Hand Rehabilitation Glove) now has a companion product. Designed to enhance hand therapy across a wide range of conditions, Gloreha Professional has been accepted as a premium tool for intensive rehabilitation. With the launch of the Gloreha Lite,
that same technology becomes portable. Therapists can easily carry the unit to work at a client’s home and a client can safely continue therapy in the community. For more information contact Anatomical Concepts (UK) Ltd at 0141 952 2323.
Published on Feb 6, 2014