INNOVATION FOR INDEPENDENCE
ISSUE 94 DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14 £6.95
Tongue method an alternative to sip-and-puff By Dominic Musgrave
potentially benefit from it.”
RESEARCHERS in America have given new hope to sip-and-puff wheelchair users after a new clinical study proved that it is outperformed by tongue-controlled technology.
Scientists from Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago were also involved in the study.
In the study, individuals with paralysis were able to use a tongue-controlled technology to access computers and execute commands for their wheelchairs at speeds that were significantly faster than those recorded in sipand-puff wheelchairs, but with equal accuracy.
“The Tongue Drive System is a novel technology that empowers people with disability to achieve maximum independence at home and in the community by enabling them to drive a power wheelchair and control their environment in a smoother and more intuitive way,” said Northwestern co-lead investigator Elliot Roth, MD, chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Feinberg and the medical director of the patient recovery unit at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. “The opportunity to use this high-tech innovation to improve the quality of life among people with mobility limitations is very exciting.”
The Tongue Drive System is controlled by the position of the user’s tongue. A magnetic tongue stud lets them use their tongue as a joystick to drive the wheelchair. Sensors in the tongue stud relay the tongue’s position to a headset, which then executes up to six commands based on the tongue position. “It’s really easy to understand what the Tongue Drive System can do and what it is good for,” said Maysam Ghovanloo, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a study co-author and principal investigator. “Now, we have solid proof that people with disabilities can
The research team had subjects complete a set of tasks used in similar clinical trials. Subjects in the trials were either able-bodied or people with tetraplegia. On average, the performance of 11 subjects with tetraplegia using the Tongue Drive System was three times faster.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus as part of her day-long visit to Northern Ireland. The Princess Royal’s visit marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of occupational therapy education at the University – the only provider of degreelevel occupational therapy education in Northern Ireland. Full story on page 4.
Firm provides feet to WWTW team member By Dominic Musgrave
is beyond words.”
OSSUR has been named as an official provider to Walking With The Wounded for its South Pole expedition.
Representing the UK, Team Glenfiddich, under the patronage of Prince Harry, will race against their American and Commonwealth counterparts, Team Noom Coach and Team Soldier On respectively, over a distance of 335km in an attempt to be the first team to reach the South Pole.
Through Pace Rehabilitation, Össur has provided Vari-Flex® XC feet to Duncan Slater, a member of ‘Team Glenfiddich’ with bilateral below knee amputations. The XC feet are an ideal choice as they are designed specifically for a range of activities including hiking. Duncan dedicated over 10 years of his life to the RAF. He was injured while serving in Afghanistan during operation ‘Panthers Claw’ when an improvised explosive device blew up his vehicle. Duncan said: “When I was blown up I thought that my life was to be limited, I was told by my doctor that I would never walk or run without pain again. “I was determined to prove otherwise. I want to show others that amputees can do anything…to have the opportunity to help a charity that is willing to do so much
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Emlyn Lewis, Össur UK managing director, said: “The work that Duncan and Walking With The Wounded are doing is truly inspiring and we are incredibly proud to be involved.
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“We count ourselves very fortunate to be involved with such an energetic and determined group of people. Our injured servicemen and women are the bravest and best in our society. This charity gives them the chance to show they are still strong, resourceful and brave individuals worthy of our respect and regard.” To find out more and donate to Walking With The Wounded visit www.walkingwiththewounded .org.uk
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Royal visit marks 40th anniversary of OT education at university NEWS
By Dominic Musgrave THE University of Ulster welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to its Jordanstown campus as part of her day-long visit to Northern Ireland. The Princess Royal’s visit marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of occupational therapy education at the University of Ulster – the only provider of degree-level occupational therapy education in Northern Ireland. The Princess Royal is patron of the College of Occupational Therapists, the UK’s professional body for occupational therapists. She was greeted by Joan Christie, Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, and was welcomed to the campus by the vice-chancellor, professor Richard Barnett, and professor Alastair Adair, provost of the Jordanstown campus. While on campus, the Princess Royal – who was joined by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP, toured a workshop and exhibition showcasing the work of the University in the fields of occupational therapy, research innovation and knowledge transfer. She met staff and students as well as senior representatives from the College of Occupational Therapists, charities, voluntary and community
groups and companies whose work has benefited from the knowledge, expertise and innovation of University researchers. Vice-chancellor, professor Richard Barnett, said: “I am delighted once again to welcome HRH The Princess Royal on her third visit to the University of Ulster. As in her previous visits, she showed great interest in and enthusiasm for our work. "We are at the forefront of teaching and research in occupational therapy, and I am pleased that we were able to showcase these important aspects of our activity.” University of Ulster academic Dr Suzanne Martin, who is a council member and chair of the R&D Board for the College of Occupational Therapists, said: “It was a great opportunity to celebrate the hard work of occupational therapy academics, who are collaborating with healthcare businesses and the social economy healthcare providers to improve the outcomes of healthcare interventions within Northern Ireland. “The Office of Innovation at the University guides the academics on Invest Northern Ireland Innovation Vouchers and Knowledge Transfer Partnership funding which has
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal addresses the audience.
enabled staff to share knowledge and build research projects on a wide range of topics – for example working with Limavady-based chair manufacturers Seating Matters to explore the impact of their chairs and prescribed seating assessments on older people living in nursing homes.
“In addition to this, we have a long standing track record of partnership with the Cedar Foundation, who are now collaborating on brain computer interface projects to enable people with acquired brain injury to gain access to a computer using just their brain waves to control the mouse.”
Limbpower chairman joins judging panel LIMBPOWER chairman Kiera Roche has been invited by the Limbless Association to join the judging panel of their prestigious Prosthetics and Orthotics Awards. The annual awards ceremony recognises and rewards outstanding contributions and achievements in the limb-loss and healthcare communities, and the prosthetic and orthotic industry. All awards are nominated by Limbless Association members, prosthetic service users and industry professionals.
Paralympic athlete Richard Whitehead MBE has received an honorary degree from Nottingham Trent University. The congenital double amputee, who is the current world record holder for leg amputees in both the half and Olympic marathon distances, received the Doctor of the University award. This summer, the Nottingham-born first ever leg amputee to complete the marathon event in under three hours, ran 40 marathons in 40 days– from Land’s End to John O’Groats – and raised more than £300,000 for charities Sarcoma UK and Scope. Last year he won a gold medal in the 200m T42 athletics event in a world record time of 24.38 seconds at the London 2012 Paralympics. Picture credit: David Baird
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The awards cover seven categories: Services to Other Users; User Group Achievement Award for Inspiration; Sam Gallop Lifetime Achievement Award; Outstanding Service by an Individual; Professional Award; DSC Achievement and the Prosthetic or Orthotic Product Innovation Award. Kiera said: “It is a privilege and an honour to be invited to be a judge on the Limbless Association's P&O Awards, a project I founded while working as the strategic
development manger at the Limbless Association. “I believe in promoting the industry and the individuals who support us amputees as we rebuild our lives and come to terms with limb loss. Celebrating the achievements of amputees and the healthcare professionals that support us can only lead to a more positive outcome for us all.” The awards were presented at a ceremony and dinner held at Portcullis House in Westminster.
Firm to assist university’s research on bionic suit By Dominic Musgrave CYCLONE Technologies is starting work with the University of Hull to research the exoskeleton mobility system, ReWalk. As the exclusive national supplier for ReWalk, the team at Cyclone are keen to learn more about the bionic suit and are beginning to work with the university’s sports science with biomechanical research, to find out more about the forces that go through the body when it is used. The ReWalk enables individuals with lower-limb disabilities such as spinal cord injury and spina bifida to stand, ascend and descend stairs and walk indoors and outdoors on mown grass, ramps and up kerbs. This can be done independently and on a daily basis. Although the research will be organised by the university, Cyclone’s physiotherapist, Matt White, will be providing technical assistance with the ReWalk. He said: “Working with the
biomechanical research means we can assess where we are at with the ReWalk and feed back to the manufacturers, Argo. It will also be beneficial to us, as suppliers, as it means we can structure our training appropriately to reflect the specific demands placed on the body.
“We are just working on the development of the research at the moment, so we are hoping that, by Christmas, we will have a preliminary date for the data to be collected and we can make a start in the New Year.” Invented by the Israeli entrepreneur Dr Amit Goffer, who became a quadriplegic in 1998, ReWalk provides individuals with userinitiated mobility through the integration of a light wearable brace support suit, a computer-based control system and motion sensors. By a shift in the wearer’s balance, the sensors recognise a change in position and trigger the desired knee or hip movement to take a step forward and make ‘walking’ relatively
Matt White helps client Claire Lomas with the ReWalk.
easy for the user. The ReWalk – P is available when a user has begun ReWalk training at Cyclone’s purpose-built CyclonePlus rehabilitation and training facility in Ottringham, East Yorkshire, and when all parties are satisfied with the device and the individual’s ability to
utilise it. Crutches are also required for users to maintain their balance when walking and standing. In addition to this is the ReWalk – I, which is currently available for training and therapy purposes within ‘institutions’ such as an SCI centre or a dedicated medical facility.
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Virtual rehabilitation suite launched for arthritis patients NEWS
A NEW research project led by Cardiff University’s Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre is using technology normally associated with Hollywood blockbusters to help tackle the condition. Funded by Arthritis Research UK, the project has established a virtual rehabilitation suite – the first of its kind in the UK – with equipment used to create special effects in films. The £500,000 investment includes cameras, a cinema screen and computers to monitor joint movement which could lead to practical benefits for people with painful limb disorders. Charlotte with University of Salford representatives at the opening of the refurbished prosthetics and orthotics centre.
Paralympic star launches University’s prosthetics and orthotics centre PARALYMPIC swimmer Charlotte Henshaw has officially re-opened the refurbished prosthetics and orthotics centre at the University of Salford. Salford is the only university in England to offer prosthetics and orthotics training which prepares students for highly skilled work as prosthetists and orthotists. Training takes place in the Brian Blatchford Building which was first opened in 1993 following a generous donation from the Blatchford family – the founders of Blatchford Clinical Services which manufactures prosthetic and orthotic products. The University has spent £1.3m investing in new machinery and refurbishing the clinical rooms, workshops, rehabilitation gym and plaster room. Charlotte won a silver medal in the 100m breaststroke at the London 2012 Paralympics, and has a special interest in the prosthetics industry. Both of her legs were amputated above the knee when she was 18
Designed to enhance hand therapy across a wide range of conditions, Gloreha Professional has been accepted as a premium tool for intensive rehabilitation.
“We can now get that information immediately so we can give real time feedback to patients. We can tell patients how they can improve their movement and hopefully alleviate future joint problems.” The suite uses an innovative Gait Real-time Analysis Interactive Laboratory system and is the first of its kind to be installed in the UK. The system consists of a treadmill, motion capture cameras, a screen for projection of a virtual scene such as a park, city or home environment and multiple computers.
She said: “I firmly believe that the dedicated professionals I’ve seen since I was two years old have helped me to become an athlete. The new facilities at Salford will help people like me to achieve their hopes and dreams.” The launch event also marked the beginning of a joint venture between the University and Blatchford Clinical Services – a new company called Crescent Rehabilitation Services Ltd which will provide private clinical services in prosthetics and orthotics. Vice-chancellor professor Martin Hall said: “Prosthetics and orthotics are central disciplines at Salford which have produced some of the leading professionals in the country. The new company with Blatchford Clinical Services is an exciting development for the University and will create more opportunities for our students.”
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
With the launch of the Gloreha Lite, 6
The new rehabilitation suite will enable experts and clinicians to
Dr Paulien Roos, a project leader at the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre, said: “It's an excellent tool that really helps to move our research forward. Normally it would take us days or even years to calculate the measurements this tool allows us to gather.
months old, and her first pair of prosthetic legs was fitted when she was two.
Gloreha Lite arrives in the UK GLOREHA Professional (Hand Rehabilitation Glove) now has a companion product.
More than 10 million UK adults seek help for arthritis each year – the condition can lead to pain, disability, joint damage and reduced quality of life. Current treatments include drugs, physical therapies and surgery.
examine in great detail the limb movements of arthritis sufferers.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
at 0141 952 2323.
Michael Lee and Roy Wilkins.
Farmer’s life transformed after suffering 50 years of pain A RETIRED farmer who suffered with debilitating back pain for over 50 years has transformed his life after just one visit to a Sheffield physiotherapist. Since his late teens, Roy Wilkins, now 67, has lived with a painful twisted spine caused by a farming accident in 1964 when he was thrown from a tractor. He was also diagnosed with Syringomyelia – a cyst in the spinal cord which causes numbness and severe pain. After deciding it was time to take action, Roy travelled 225 miles from his home in West Sussex to MiTo
Therapy in Sheffield. Roy was treated by Michael Lee, a specialist physiotherapist and sports scientist. He added: “Just one visit changed my life, physical and mentally. Most of the nasty discomfort has gone and I can stand up straight again. I thought the results from just one appointment were only possible after many visits. I think Michael is amazing. I have a round trip of 450 miles to see him but it is well worth it. Life can be all about ifs and buts. If I’d never gone to Yorkshire, I would never have heard about Michael.”
Students help basketball star to put his best foot forward PODIATRY students at Plymouth University have been given a foot up onto the career ladder after helping basketball star Matt Pressey with a new pair of orthotics. Third year podiatry students Jack Walker and Erica Knapp joined forces with Vasileios Lepesis, a lecturer in the University’s School of Health Professions, to prescribe a pair of functional foot orthoses for the Plymouth University Raiders’ star guard. The event follows the signing of a partnership between the two organisations, which included a pledge to create a range of opportunities for University staff and students. Dave Briggs, chief executive of Plymouth University Raiders, said: “It is great to be able to offer players the opportunity to come and access expert medical care at Plymouth University; players benefit from the best treatment possible and we love being able to offer students like Jack and Erica the chance to get involved.” With the help of Vasileios, the
students assessed Matt’s previous orthotics, before examining his foot and lower limb mechanics. They then took a plaster of paris cast of his feet to assist in the manufacture of a new pair of foot orthotics, which are being donated by UK manufacturer Langer. Matt, 24, who signed with the Raiders in September having graduated from the University of Missouri in 2012, said the assessment was of the same high standard he had previously received in the USA. Jack Walker, who hopes to specialise in sports podiatry on completion of his degree, said: “Sports podiatry is difficult to get into so it’s amazing to have an opportunity to work with a world-class athlete like Matt Pressey, especially as you learn a lot by doing and seeing things for yourself.” The University is hoping its partnership with Plymouth University Raiders will continue to enhance the student experience over the coming months, with more events planned to benefit players and University staff and students.
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Matt Pressey with Vasileios Lepesis, lecturer at Plymouth University School of Health Professions, and podiatry students Jack Walker and Erica Knapp.
University leads the way in the use of 3D printing for medical devices NEWS
By Dominic Musgrave NEWCASTLE University is part of a new exhibition exploring how 3D printing is revolutionising medicine and industry. Using the new 3D printing technology, the University team together with industry leader Peacocks Medical Group are 'printing' tailor-made medical devices that meet the specific needs of each individual patient.
Jon Toogood with lead researcher, professor Mark Hawley.
New technology gives people the power of speech PATIENTS with severe speech impairment could soon have a voice, thanks to a new technology developed at the University of Sheffield. The voice input communication aid (VIVOCA) was showcased to the public as part of the launch of the University’s new Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare (CATCH). Jon Toogood is one of the first five patients across the Sheffield city region trialling the market-ready version of VIVOCA. Jon, from Rotherham, has cerebral palsy and his speech is very difficult to understand except by those who know him well. VIVOCA is the only technology able to interpret his speech and translate it into a clear, synthesized voice – potentially enabling him to communicate clearly beyond his close family and friends for the first time. “I’ve been helping to design and test VIVOCA for over seven years,” said Jon. “It helps me to communicate faster and more clearly when I need to and it’s helpful in noisy situations. Not being understood can be degrading, as some people assume that my speech impediment means that I must have learning difficulties and treat me like a child. As an intelligent adult this is both frustrating and annoying.” Lead researcher, professor Mark Hawley, added: “Most speechrecognition software works with standard voices, so is completely unsuitable for anyone with speech 10
impairment. VIVOCA is different, because it can be trained to recognise an individual’s way of expressing themselves, whether that’s through unclear speech or basic sounds. “The user works with VIVOCA to train the system to understand what they are trying to say, and from then on it can translate any sound they make into standard speech using a synthesized voice.” Mark is also director of the new Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Healthcare, which is bringing together expertise across health research, engineering, psychology, computer science, architecture, and social science to research and develop new technologies to help people to live independently.
Newcastle is a leading centre for medical engineering, and has worked with Peacocks Medical Group to transform the manufacture of orthotics. Now some of these devices including wrist and leg braces, and foot supports – are being displayed as part of a new exhibition which opens today at the Science Museum in London. Charting the rapidly evolving field of 3D printing and its growing impact on society, 3D: printing the future takes visitors on a journey through the three key sectors in which the technology is driving innovation industry, medicine and business. Professor Kenny Dalgarno, who leads the Newcastle University research, said: “3D printing has allowed engineers and designers to manufacture things that wouldn't have been possible with traditional
A £100,000 sports facility for wounded troops and their families has opened in the grounds of Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Money for the facility, based at the £4.2m Fisher House building, was raised by the Royal Marines Association.
CATCH will house a new laboratory – called Home Lab – which mimics rooms in an ordinary house but which is fitted with cameras and other sensor equipment.
He said he wished the facility had been available when he was recovering.
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“Through collaborative work with industry partners we’re showing the huge potential for this technology.” The pioneering work in 3D printed orthotics in the North East is the result of a long-standing collaboration between the University and Newcastle-based medical devices company Peacocks Medical Group. Commercial director Steve Cook, a former researcher in the School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering at Newcastle University, said: “The close relationship with Newcastle University has been really valuable in helping Peacocks to develop our products and services over the years. “The variety and scale of the collaborations has been really exciting – it is a real privilege to be working with such enthusiastic and knowledgeable experts in different disciplines.” 3D: printing the future is free and will run in the Antenna gallery at the Science Museum for nine months. It is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
New facility opens for injured troops
He added: “What’s special about CATCH is that by integrating researchers from so many different fields, we are able to look at the whole picture – not simply the technical issues, but also how a technology can help improve or reduce the costs of healthcare and how it can respond to the needs of the people who will use it.”
The Home Lab will be used to test – in ‘real’ situations – how people use new technology or devices in the home, to help ensure they meet the best design and healthcare standards.
methods. The technology allows us to provide personal healthcare in a way that we could never have imagined before, with every medical device or tissue implant created specifically for the patient in a way that is not only timely but also costeffective.
Ex-Royal Marine Mark Ormrod, the first triple amputee to return from Afghanistan after he stepped on an IED on foot patrol in 2007, cut the ribbon.
He added: “You spend a lot of time in your hospital room watching countless DVDs, surfing the internet, feeling pretty useless and out of touch with the world. “Just to be able to come out, get some fresh air, have some fun and
interaction with your kids and your family and build up a bit of a sweat does an awful lot for your physical and mental well-being.” The facility features tennis, golf and basketball equipment and has been developed in a partnership between the hospital's charity trust and Fisher House. Brigadier Mike Ellis added: “Sport and competition are a big part of life in the Corps. When you suffer a lifechanging injury that passion for keeping fit through playing sport doesn’t go away. This new facility will be hugely beneficial to injured troops on their road to recovery.” Following the ribbon cutting guests enjoyed a demonstration of wheelchair basketball by the Birmingham Black Cats and mascots from Aston Villa Football Club and Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
First amputee in Europe receives bionic foot LEG amputee Jozef Metelka has become the first recipient in Europe to be fitted with the American BiOM power assisted ankle system. The BiOM has been in development for six years and has been fitted to several hundred amputees in the US and Canada, but has only just become available in the UK. Its design, invented by professor Hugh Hurr, himself a double leg amputee, evolved within the leg laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Harvard University) and is the first prosthetic foot which provides power to the user, allowing the amputee to walk faster and with less energy. Jozef, 27, from Oxford, who has retrained as a ski instructor and is competing in semi-professional road cycle races, said: “Following a motorcycle accident in 2009, which resulted in a below the knee amputation of my left leg, I have been very fortunate to receive great prosthetic support and have tried to continue to lead an active life”. “I try to focus as much of my energy on high level activities, so it’s
important that I rest when I can. Using the BiOM foot for everyday use allows me to use less energy, but I still walk faster. It’s unlike any other design I have tried, it’s as if my (amputated) leg has come alive again”.
The riders, many on adapted cycles and hand bikes, took in some iconic locations including Battle Abbey, Arundel Castle, Sandhurst, and the North and South Downs for good measure, ending up with a “victory charge” from Horse Guards Parade to the Tower of London.
He added: “It’s unlikely that Jozef will leap over tall buildings in a single bound with this new powered foot, or break any sporting records, but he now has the opportunity to walk with a more normal pattern, using less energy as he does so.
At earlier clinical trials, gait analysis experts at the University of Salford were asked to assess the differences
HER Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York showed her support to 30 injured military veterans as they embarked on a 250-mile bike tour over six days from Windsor Castle. SR UK is a cycling tour organised by London based military charity BLESMA – The Limbless Veterans, and saw the cyclists, both from Britain and the US, tackle between 30 and 50 miles a day.
Jozef’s prosthetist at Pace Rehabilitation is Jamie Gillespie, himself a leg amputee with a sporting background.
“As a young guy, it’s important that we consider what the long-term effect of using a prosthesis will have on his body. These improvements to movement will reduce the wear and tear on Jozef as a whole and hopefully keep him performing at a high level in sport and work until much later in life”.
Princess offers her support to charity cyclists NEWS
of the BiOM foot over Jozef’s existing (non-powered) prosthesis. Their studies demonstrated a significant advantage from the BiOM powered system. The opportunity to receive the BiOM foot has been made available by Jozef’s legal team at NewLaw Solicitors in Cardiff.
Jerome Church, chief executive of BLESMA, said: “We were very privileged to be able to start our great ride from Windsor Castle and particularly grateful that HRH Princess Beatrice was there to wish the riders well. “It meant the world, both to our members and our American allies, as they set out shoulder to shoulder on their grand tour across the south of England.“
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Active Jane puts her prosthetist and prostheses to the test NEWS
By Dominic Musgrave A LONDON teacher has been putting both her prosthetist and prostheses to the test in order to enjoy diving, cycling and horse riding. Jane St Pierre has been a Dorset Orthopaedic client for more than 10 year safter suffering various amputations due to contracting Meningococcal Septicaemia aged 17. She first visited the company in 2002 after losing her right leg below the knee, the fingers, thumb and palm on her right hand and her left forefoot and heel.
“The operating lever for this mechanism is usually quite small and fiddly and therefore Jane found it very difficult, if not impossible, to operate after 20 minutes in very cold water as the fingers on her good hand became very numb and functionally impaired. “To help Jane with this problem, we had a larger lever made, which she finds much easier to grip and operate with cold and numb fingers.”
Jane has three below the knee prosthetic legs for different functions: a cosmetic leg, which has a highdefinition silicone cover, a lightweight leg, and a specially designed water resistant scuba diving leg.
As she has three amputations on both legs and her right hand, each amputation is treated individually and Dorset Orthopaedic has worked with her to tailor Jane’s prostheses for her needs.
Her prosthetist Paul Neve said: “Jane has what is usually called an active or swim ankle fitted. This ankle allows the prosthetic foot to be plantarflexed and locked into this position when in the water to prevent drag when swimming.
Jane added: “Having prosthetics from Dorset Orthopaedic enables me to lead the type of life I want to, and Paul is always willing to help me achieve my next sporting mission with adaptations to limbs.
“The foot can then be returned to
the standard neutral position and locked again for normal walking when on dry land.
“I am head of languages in an inner London comprehensive school where
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
Jane St Pierre using her silicone prostheses to enjoy scuba diving.
the pupils marvel at how good the hand looks and few believe I have a false leg. I enjoy scuba diving in the UK and abroad and I regularly cycle and horse ride. All of these activities are made possible by good fitting prostheses and a prosthetist whose answer to questions is ‘yes, we can
do that’ or ‘I’ll think about that one’ – never ‘no’. “Silicone is incredibly important to me, whilst my disability is part of who I am it is not all I am. First impressions take seconds – I want people's first impressions of me not to focus on my disability.”
Prosthetic hands viewed as eerie, claims study By Dominic Musgrave MEMBERS of the public would prefer to look at human hands or robotic hands rather than prosthetic hands which they view as eerie, a new study by The University of Manchester has found.
eeriness ratings and were rated as more human like than the mechanical hands. But prosthetic hands which looked more human-like were rated as less eerie.
But prosthetic hands which looked more human-like were rated as less eerie, the academics found.
Dr Ellen Poliakoff, based in the University's School of Psychological Science who led the research, now plans to carry out further experiments.
Researchers hope their study, published in the Journal Perception, and future work in this area will help improve designs for prosthetic limbs.
She said: “Our findings show hands are viewed in a similar way to previous experiments which have looked at faces and bodies.
Earlier research has shown that people find robots that look as close to being human more uncomfortable than those which are clearly not human. But this research has focused on faces or whole bodies.
“Finding out more about this phenomenon, known as the uncanny valley, may help with the design of prosthetic limbs.”
The University of Manchester study explored the theory with hands. 43 right-handed participants, 36 female and seven male, viewed a series of photographs of human, robotic and prosthetic hands and graded them on a nine-point scale in terms of eeriness or human-likeness. They found prosthetic hands generally received the highest
Dr Emma Gowen, based in the University's Faculty of Life Science who also worked on the research, added: “We hope this and further research will allow us to learn more about social perception and what is special about perceiving another human being. “Determining what factors contribute to eeriness can help us to understand how we interpret and respond to other people.”
Hugh inducted into hall of fame TOUCH Bionics’ chief technical officer Hugh Gill has been inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. He is one of the latest engineers inducted for his work on the most advanced multi-articulating bionic hand solutions. In more recent years Hugh has pioneered the development of i-limb digits as the world’s first bionic partial hand solution designed for patients with missing fingers.
"One needs the courage to lead significant changes in prosthetics and to overcome barriers to success,” he said. “The journey in Touch Bionics has been exhilarating and the future innovations will help to transform the lives of more patients.” The Hall of Fame was introduced by The Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, and is endorsed by Scottish Engineering, the support group for the engineering industry in Scotland.
Skier Anna Turney in action.
Paralympic skier becomes company’s ambassador PARALYMPIC skier Anna Turney is the new ambassador for Gerald Simonds Healthcare, representing products such as the new lightweight TiLite TR3 titanium wheelchair and the FreeWheel all-terrain wheelchair addon. Anna, 34, became paralysed as the result of a snowboarding accident seven years ago. Four years later she finished sixth in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics in alpine skiing. Anna won 10 medals last year and is training hard to represent GB in next year’s Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Dedicated to a rigorous training regime, Anna spends 16 hours a week in the gym, and trains during the summer at The Snow Centre indoor snowdome in Hemel Hempstead. She has just returned from a busy trip to New Zealand where she trained with the British Disabled Ski Team and won two World Cup bronze medals in qualifying races for the Winter Paralympics. Additional team training and Paralympic qualifying races in Austria and America will be followed by more World Cup races in Canada
Anna Turney at Gerald Simonds Healthcare.
and France in January. “I am delighted to have the support of Gerald Simonds Healthcare,” said Anna. “After spending four months in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, I got my first wheelchair from Gerald Simonds. “The right equipment is central to both my sport and daily life, with it I can do pretty much anything anyone else does. My training regime is tough and at the end of a session, being able to get into a lightweight wheelchair that is easy to get around in really helps with recovery.”
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
Specialist ski leg helps amputee Matt with his Paralympic dream By Dominic Musgrave AMPUTEE Matt Short hopes to realise a Paralympic dream thanks to a specialised prosthetic skiing leg developed by The London Prosthetic Centre. It was 2007 when 22-year-old Matt, who is currently training to be a solicitor, received the devastating news that he had bone cancer. Despite months of treatment, it was decided in March 2008 that he needed to have his leg amputated below the knee. Following the surgery Matt was given the all-clear, only to experience a relapse in 2010. Determined to overcome the disease, he underwent additional treatment and having made a full recovery, felt keen to make a return to sport, which he had always enjoyed prior to his illness. Having skied throughout his life, Matt felt that he had the skill to take it up again and that his body could handle it. He has since skied with the British Disabled Ski Team over the past few
years, recently experiencing his first season of racing as an independent. He also joined Heather Mills and the team for training in March this year, which proved an incredible experience. “Skiing with the development squad was fantastic and joining the team is something that I’m very keen to do,” said Matt. “I’m still fairly new to it all, but I’m hoping to be good enough to take part in the 2018 Paralympics. “My NHS leg is very good and allows me to engage in a range of activities, including playing squash at work, walking and running, but it’s not well-suited to skiing. “When using ski boots, the prosthesis doesn’t provide much security at all, and skiing requires a completely different angle for me to be able to put force through the ski. The awkward positioning also means that I’m constantly at risk of dislocating my knee if I have a fall.” While Matt was skiing with the development squad, he spoke to Heather Mills, who is the only other amputee on the team and claimed
the Super-G Austria Cup title last year and four gold medals at the US Adaptive Alpine Skiing National Championships in Aspen, Colorado.
She recommended a visit to The London Prosthetic Centre, who worked closely with her to develop a specialised skiing prosthesis which could withstand the harsh racing conditions. Heather put Matt in touch with consultant prosthetist at the clinic Abdo Haidar, and the design of Matt’s new leg is well underway. He said: “The key benefit for Matt will be that this new leg has been specifically designed for skiing, and to meet his exact requirements. “The newly designed socket and brace will give him the control and manoeuvrability to make turns with complete confidence and tackle the slopes with ease. “The positioning of the leg will also ensure that there is no risk of Matt damaging his knee. Our aim is to provide Matt with the ideal solution, to help him achieve his goals on the slopes and embark on his Paralympic dream.”
Matt Short and Abdo Haidar.
Institute secures funding for design and testing COVENTRY University Health Design and Technology Institute has secured further funding specifically for product design and usability testing in the assisted living and community healthcare market. This an 18-month extension to its existing Assistive Technologies and Community Healthcare Development Project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund. Aimed at small and medium sized enterprises, entrepreneurs and inventors based in the West Midlands region, the fund provides qualifying companies with up to five days of product development consultancy free of charge, which can be used to provide product design and/or usability testing. The extended funding available may include design research to identify market opportunity and product trends, sketching and modelling to quickly develop embryonic ideas into feasible concepts, design visualisation to support product marketing and presentations for peer review or to attract potential licensees and investors, and 3D CAD modelling and prototyping to test and evaluate a device for manufacture. HDTI’s commercial development
director Guy Smallman said:“At HDTI we have worked with a variety of innovative businesses and entrepreneurs working in the community healthcare sector, supporting the development of new and innovative products. “Focusing on the ageing population, people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, we provide design, prototyping and user-centred product evaluation services to entrepreneurial companies and individuals developing new technologies in this area.” HDTI wants to hear from Midlands based inventors and SMEs who are looking to develop new products in the healthcare market. ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
Conference to begin network THE University of Salford is leading the UK’s role in the EU-wide SOHEALTHY project which aims to bring clinicians, researchers, industry and patient groups together to forge an exciting research and innovation agenda for future footwear and orthotics. The SOHEALTHY project will enhance cooperation between all stakeholders across Europe in the footwear and footcare sector, with a particular focus on feet affected by ageing, diabetes and obesity. Working with National Footwear Technology Centres in Spain, Italy, Tunisia and Morocco, professor Chris Nester and his research colleague Carina Price will host a free to attend one-day event on February 26. Chris, from the School of Health Sciences, said: “Current and future footwear research has a crucial role in preventing and treating important foot problems, but we need to explore potential solutions in new ways. “Drawing the right people together to enhance cooperation and encourage collaboration through future research projects is what we hope to achieve. It’s an open shop approach for clinicians, service
Explore what is ‘state of the art’ in terms of foot problems, solutions and services.
With special focus on the needs of people with diabetes, obesity and older people, the agenda of the one day event is to:
Develop a shared vision for the future priorities for the footwear and orthotics sector.
Share knowledge of the foot and lower limb problems that can be addressed with footwear and orthotics.
The SOHEALTHY project is establishing a free expert community which is open to health care professionals, researchers, patient associations and industrialists.
Hear what clinicians and industrialists consider to be future priorities.
The long-term ambition is to translate improved cooperation into new projects which will ultimately
enhance the services and products for people with foot problems. The event at the University of Salford is expected to attract between 150 and 200 delegates. Confirmed speakers include: professor Chris Nester, professor Wesley Vernon, professor Jim Woodburn, Dr Anita Williams, Dr Stewart Morrison, Dr Farina Hashmi, Simon Dickinson (chair of the NHS Orthotic Managers Group), Dr Jane McAdam (chair of the Footwear Specialist Interest Group) and Colin Hurley (chair of the Orthotics Section, BHTA).
Socks offer protection and comfort
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TAKING styles from our Stock – ‘Off the Shelf’ and High Street range Klaveness has created a selection of footwear that allows you to customise the last, uppers and soles to further refine the quality of fit for your clients.
HJ’s diabetic friendly socks are perfect for those with sensitive feet. They are designed to allow air to flow around the foot; this ventilation reduces moisture retention and enables the foot to breathe. They also offer non-restrictive elastic knit throughout, a fully cushioned
Representatives of the EU-wide SOHEALTHY project.
managers, researchers and industry to bring them together in a way that is mutually beneficial.”
foot and smooth toe seam. With over 130 years of sock making experience you can be confident that socks by HJ will do the job. Not only can you offer your customers the correct socks for their needs and an unconditional six-month guarantee they are also accredited by the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. They said that “You can put your foot in no better sock”. Enquiries: Contact us on 01455 638800 for details on stocking our socks or to request a directory.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
To ease the process of choosing the correct last we provide a sale or return fitting stock. We recommend this as an effective way to eliminate costly and time consuming rough fitting stages. You can also send a full set of BS5943:1980 Orthopaedic Shoe measurements.
From this we are able to choose the last and correct modifications to produce well-fitted shoes. On request we will produce the footwear to a fitting stage. These items are ready for delivery after 10-15 working days. With the availability to modify our footwear you are able to specify your diabetic specification. Our recommended diabetic spec: padded collar, rim toe puff, natural material lining with minimal seams. Enquiries: Visit www.bolton-bros.co.uk
A revolutionary smart material product developed at the University of Bolton to support wheelchair users has been successfully brought to market and is about to go into its second phase of research development. Dominic Musgrave reports.
Ground-breaking smart material helps take pressure off wheelchair users THE Airospring cushion has been created after seven years of research and development by professor Subhash Anand MBE of the University’s Institute for Materials Research and Innovation, retired Golborne engineer, Bryan McArdle and Derbyshire company Baltex Technical Textiles. Now, thanks to a Technology Strategy Board grant, the research and development team has £500,000 research funding to develop new products using their unique technical textile, XD Spacer Fabrics made at Baltex. Airospring is a pressure-relieving, moisture-wicking, breathable and fully machine washable cushion that has qualities which help prevent an unpleasant medical condition that can affect wheelchair users – pressure sores, also known as decubitus ulcers. Sores form when people are stuck in one position for too long, which stretches the skin and cuts off the
blood supply. It is estimated that pressure sores cost the NHS £1.82.6bn a year. The inspiration for Airospring’s development has been Bryan’s late wife Sheila, who became a wheelchair user after a brain haemorrhage left her unable to walk. He was advised by Sheila’s nursing team to use lambs’ wool or fleece to cushion her body as it was a natural fibre that was breathable. Although time-consuming to wash daily and maintain, the couple found it preferable to any manufactured cushioning they tried. Bryan’s engineering background gave him the confidence to pursue developing superior products. Through a medical care conference contact he met Prof Anand who has developed medical textiles products for more than 30 years, including a number used within the NHS. Together they set about trying to develop an easy-care textile which would be as effective as the lambs’ wool Bryan was using to cushion Sheila. Sheila died in 2007, but the team continued to develop the material, initially funded through a £3,000 innovation voucher from the thenNorth West Development Agency. “My wife died because she developed a pressure wound while in hospital,” Bryan said. “She never had any serious wounds in the 18 years I was her carer and that’s why I spent seven years researching and learning as much as possible about the subject.
Cushion tester Peter James-Robinson MBE
“I really wanted to make a difference. We have conducted
Bryan McArdle and Subhash Anand MBE with the cushion.
significant, thorough research and development and I truly believe we are at the cutting edge. This is a significant achievement for the University of Bolton. “I’m now taking an active part on the Advanced Wound Care group, involving Leeds, York and Sheffield Universities. A five-year research project by this group has established that virtually all pressure relief aids used at the moment are not very effective. The design and technology applied to the Bolton cushions has the potential to change this for the better.” The light-weight Airospring cushion is now available in two thicknesses. There is the AS-100 model, which is designed for people who sit for long periods, like drivers and office workers, while the AS-200 model is designed for wheelchair users.
Subhash added: “There are a number of cushions on the market, but key attributes you would want in any material you sit on for long periods, are to be fully supportive, through distributing the pressure over a larger area of the person’s bottom and so reducing the overall pressure at any point. “Foam doesn’t support like our Airospring system does. And it is fully-machine washable and moisture-wicking, making it easycare. Without a breathable cushion next to the body, which supports the wheelchair user properly, they can suffer pressure sores which can be an extremely unpleasant experience and potentially dangerous if they become infected.” The cushion is sold by Airospring Medical Ltd, a subsidiary of Baltex.
Physios can help young people, claims Society head PHYSIOTHERAPISTS working with young people with long-term conditions can help them to think about finding employment, according to the CSP’s chief executive Phil Gray. He was responding to the publication of a report by the thinktank the Work Foundation on how employment outcomes can be improved for young people living with long-term health conditions. The effects of the physical and psychological symptoms of long-term conditions, combined with stigma, create significant barriers to the job prospects of those affected, the report shows. Twice as many young
people with long-term conditions are unemployed as their peers, it says. In addition, seven young people with long-term health conditions out of 10 (72 per cent) feel at risk of unemployment during the current economic climate, while 97 per cent attend work when ill because they fear losing their jobs. Of the young people surveyed, 68 per cent believed that their long-term condition affected their job satisfaction, and 61 per cent said it stopped them reaching their full potential in the workplace. Half (50 per cent) said their conditions prevented them from looking for a
different job. Phil said: “The findings are a signal to all health professionals to expand the conversations they have during the period of treatment with these young people and help them to focus on the fact that work is a possibility for them.” Among the key recommendations in the document are that patient groups should include online modules on the issue of work and long-term conditions, as well as through printed resources. It says that patient groups should consider holding career workshops where young people can discuss their aspirations and receive
advice and support on how they can achieve their goals. Phil said the report was important for physiotherapists because it provides good research evidence that young people with long-term conditions are more likely to be unemployed or not in education than the wider population of young people. He added: “It’s a call to getting physios and other healthcare professionals who are treating these young people in their teenage years and early 20s to talk to them about getting into employment, to encourage them to think about those possibilities.”
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
‘Bionic legs’ change war heroes’ lives NEWS
THE lives of war heroes who have lost their legs in service to their country have been dramatically improved through revolutionary prosthetics, according to defence secretary Philip Hammond. The Government’s funding is providing new prosthetics including the Genium ‘bionic’ leg from Ottobock, made famous by Derek Derenalagi in the 2012 Paralympic Games. Assistive Control directors Kate Browne and Dr Marc Beale.
Assistive Control launches its new Helpmate system A NEW home entertainment and communication assistive technology system capable of being easily accessed by disabled people has made its global debut. Worcestershire-based Assistive Control launched Helpmate, a simple and effective way of helping people independently enjoy books, DVDs, music and photos, while providing a choice of symbol-based communication options. Based on a touchscreen tablet PC, the system is suitable for children and adults with severe physical and/or cognitive disabilities, together with specialist options for the visually impaired. Using four large on-screen cells and two control cells, ‘Helpmate’ can have additional features added for increased independence, such as home controls and TV control. Kate Browne, director of Assistive Control, said: “For too long, being able to access worthwhile activities on a PC, listening to music and browsing photos for example, has been very difficult to achieve for anyone with a disability and many have missed out on being able to enjoy the same experience as you and I. “We’ve spent a lot of time developing a very simple system with 2014 diary dates: American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists’ annual meeting and scientific symposium – February 26March 1 at Hyatt Regency, Chicago. BAPO annual conference – March 14-16 at The Point, Lancashire County Cricket Club, Old Trafford, Manchester. Rehacare and Orthopaedic – March 2931, China.
a range of access controls that can be seamlessly incorporated into a PC tablet and be used in a way that allows the user to independently search for their favourite books, films and photographs.” She said the firm had made considerable investment in its unique ‘media checker’ software that allows an assistant to add media to the system quickly and easily. This makes sure it is continually updated so the user can always engage with interesting and new content. “There are lots of people with a disability who simply can’t use an iPad to access their music, videos and books. Helpmate opens this entire entertainment system up to them,” she added. The product has been successfully trialled by individuals and independent specialists and is available to purchase now. Assistive Control has its own inhouse development team so additional controls can be built into the system to provide increased functionality for users, some of who may have severe and complex needs. Demand is expected to come from individuals, the education sector, charities and care providers that are looking to make leisure experiences available for all. Naidex National – April 29-May 1 at the Birmingham NEC. College of Occupational Therapists’ annual conference – June 3-5 at the Brighton Centre, Brighton. FootHealth – June 10 and 11 at Kettering Conference Centre. Rehacare International – October 8-11, Dusseldorf.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2013/14
Earlier this year the Government committed more than £6.5million to guarantee that injured personnel and veterans with above knee amputations could receive the latest technology prosthetics.
“The other main benefit for me is being able to walk without expending as much energy as I used to, which helps me to walk for longer.” After just over six months of receiving the new prosthetics, patients have told their inspirational stories about how their lives have been improved, including the possibility to now play with their children in the garden and even gaining the confidence to dance in public. Other visible improvements have included a faster response to muscle commands and significantly reduced back pain.
Since then, over 50 patients have been fitted with 90 ‘bionic’ legs which have provided essential new movement possibilities including the ability to step over obstacles, negotiate stairs and walk backwards safely.
Funding for the new prosthetics represents the Government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, ensuring that anyone injured while serving their country gets special consideration and the best possible medical treatment.
Corporal Matt Webb RM, who was injured in Afghanistan, said: “Since I have been using the Genium joints, I have found it a lot easier to stand still and negotiate slopes and stairs.
It builds on the new £17million Rehabilitation Complex at Headley Court and £5million announced last year to modernise and refurbish accommodation.
Physio wins accolade for reducing absence AN Oswestry physiotherapist has won a prestigious award for his work in keeping NHS staff fit for work and reducing sickness absence costs among NHS staff. Michael Delahay, from the Therapy Outpatient Team at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, picked up the accolade at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Annual Awards, held at the Hotel Russell in London. Michael implemented and led the scheme, which has provided NHS staff with easy access to in-house physiotherapy treatment and screening for potential movement problems. The service has reduced sickness absences due to musculoskeletal disorders, saving the trust an estimated £250,000 and improving patient care through a reduction in cancelled appointments and waiting times. Sue Rees, chair of council at the CSP, said: “The CSP awards recognise physiotherapists who show innovation and excellence to provide even better services for patients. “Michael’s scheme has educated hospital staff on the advantages of early intervention and demonstrated how the NHS can make big cost
Michael Delahay with his award.
savings through providing internal healthcare support, which in turn benefits patients. This award is richly deserved.” Other winners included Frances Hunt, physiotherapy clinical manager of Outpatient Services at Torbay Hospital, the therapy early supported discharge team from Bradford Royal Infirmary and the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg NHS University Health Board lymphoedema team.