Wednesday, 27 November 2019

CATCH members participate in RESKO Conference in South Korea

In early November, Luc de Witte and Stephen Potter participated in the annual conference of the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of Korea (RESKO), which took place in Goyang, a city within the Seoul Capital Area. 

 

Together with Korean colleagues they organised a special session on care robotics. Luc represented some of the research done in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, while Stephen discussed differences in the way robotics research is managed and directed in Europe and Korea. This led to an interesting discussion with the public and which continued with colleagues after the session. 

Although as might be expected the majority of participants were Koreans, the conference had an international session with invited speakers discussing the mechanisms for and barriers to global collaboration in the field of AT. During this session representatives of a number of Assistive Technology organisations (namely GAATO, the global alliance, AAATE, representing Europe, CREATeAsia, representing the Asia Pacific region, and RESKO, the host organisation) had a panel discussion about how they can better work together under the umbrella of GAATO. And, of course, the discussion extended beyond the session into informal talks among the participants about how to achieve this goal. During this session Luc represented AAATE (Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe).

This year the conference programme as a whole had a strong emphasis on care robotics, with further presentations about this topic from Japan and describing aspects of the recently started care robotics programme in Korea. In both countries there is strong push from their respective governments to produce concrete, practical robotic solutions for specific challenges in long-term care. Toileting support, feeding/eating support, mobility support and transfer support from bed to (wheel)chair are examples of these challenges, each addressing a real difficulty in the everyday lives of those with care needs. The Korean government has committed the equivalent of around US$20m to see robotic solutions to these challenges developed into market-ready products. It was noteworthy to see that the proposed solutions are very different – in both form and function – from much of what is currently being developed through care robotics initiatives in Europe. The opportunity to learn from these differences in approach is one of the reasons why international collaboration is important and interesting; and for several of the participants in the conference, it also provided a stimulus to try to organise a global conference on Assistive Technology, bringing together researchers, practitioners and service users from around the world to share their ideas and experiences.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Workshop: Identifying facilitators and barriers for monitoring physical frailty at home using technology

 

On Wednesday the 8th May 2019 we ran a workshop on 'Identifying facilitators and barriers for monitoring physical frailty at home using technology' at Westfield Health. Dr Phil Joddrell who organised the workshop provides us with a brief outline:

A consequence of the UK’s ageing population is that a substantial number of people become frail, where a gradual decline of functioning can lead to serious complications. Early identification and intervention is key to delaying, or even preventing, further deterioration. A research team comprising health and academic partners in Sheffield is developing a system to identify and monitor frailty in people's homes using technology. This will enable people to implement positive changes, and support clinicians by integrating with routine health and social care services.
A workshop was held in May 2019 with a range of stakeholders representing service users, healthcare providers, health professionals and technology industry experts, with the remit of identifying facilitators and barriers for the development and implementation of the at-home frailty monitoring system.

In the first phase of the workshop, attendees were asked to describe the features that would make the system successful from their perspective, and identify potential benefits. There were several overlapping themes between the different groups of stakeholders, namely that: the system should facilitate early identification of decline, thus enabling intervention to improve and prevent further deterioration; it should allow for data sharing, with the intention of promoting integrated practice; and that usability will be instrumental to the system’s chances of success and adoption. In addition to these overlapping themes, service users identified improved familial relationships as a benefit of an effective system; health authority representatives highlighted the potential benefits for relatives and carers, as well as supporting independent living; and the clinicians suggested that the system could be used for monitoring adherence to various programmes, e.g. rehabilitation or exercise.
In the second phase, the focus was on the potential barriers that might prevent the system from being effective. Overlapping themes between the groups included non-adoption or non-adherence by the user due to a variety of reasons including lack of interest or motivation; the costs associated with all aspects of the system (i.e. production, installation, purchase, maintenance, etc.); and data privacy concerns (although, interestingly, this was not raised by the potential service users). Isolated themes limited to single groups included  the potential stigmatisation caused by the terminology used to describe or market the system, discussed by clinicians; and the possibility of the information generated by the system having negative impacts on the users, highlighted by the service users themselves.

For the workshop’s third and final phase, solutions to the aforementioned barriers were proposed and then ranked. The top priority solutions selected by the attendees were: to create an unobtrusive system taking advantage of daily activities and existing equipment; to incorporate a social aspect to the system, allowing users to communicate and even compare performance against family and friends; to implement creative cost-saving solutions such as subsidised use and reimbursement upon return of the devices; to ensure transparency and clarity when communicating how the generated data is shared, and to obtain consent and permissions; to consider avoiding the term ‘frailty’ entirely to reduce stigma; and to provide education alongside the data to minimise the risk of having negative impacts.
The next stage of this research will be to organise a consortium featuring representatives of each of the involved groups and develop a proposal to a national or European funding body to develop and evaluate the at-home frailty monitoring system. This process will be heavily informed and influenced by the priorities ascertained from this workshop.
 
For more information about the workshop, the research, or to obtain a copy of the report please contact Dr Phil Joddrell (p.joddrell@sheffield.ac.uk).

 

Monday, 18 November 2019

Hackcessible Returns!!

Hackcessible returned with a splash on Saturday Oct 26th of October with the Hackcessible Challenge. Hackcessible is led by Aejaz Zahid, Director of Innovation at South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (and honorary research fellow at CATCH).


At the event four thematic challenges relating to Blindness/Visual Impairment, Physical Disability, Communication Impairment and Age Related Cognitive Difficulties were presented by four individuals directly affected by these challenges. From almost fifty participants, which includes the challengers, students from engineering (every discipline), computer science, product design and occupational therapy, eight project teams were formed.

Two teams per challenge will work over the next five weeks to compete against each other while collaborating and co-creating with their respective challenger. The main Hackcessible Make-a-thon will take place on Nov 30th and Dec 1st weekend at the iForge makerspace, but in the interim five weeks, the teams and challengers have several opportunities to really get to know each other and understand the problem they are aiming to solve. This is further facilitated through a series of five evening workshops run each week on topics such as "Building an Innovation Focused Team", "Design Thinking for Assistive Technology", "Creating and Building an Open Source Project", "CAD for 3D Printing" and "Electronics Prototyping for all using Arduino".

Hackcessible 2018 resulted in six unique assistive technology products including three open source projects, and three solutions that are further being developed into research or commercial projects (including one start-up HASP Orthotics).  We are excited to see what solutions the Hackcessible 2019 teams come up with for these new challenges!  Prizes for the best solutions will be presented on December 3rd.

This is also the first time that students and faculty from both universities in this city of makers are bringing their respective strengths to a collaborative hackathon for social good.

Follow their progress on twitter @hackcessible18 and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hackcessible/ 

Check out some photo's from the event on the 26th October in the Diamond at The University of Sheffield:

 

 

 

 


Monday, 28 October 2019

Publication: Using Technology in Dementia Care: A Guide to Technology Solutions for Everyday Living

One of our colleagues Phil Joddrell recently co-edited and contributed a chapter towards a book entitled 'Using Technology in Dementia Care: A Guide to Technology Solutions for Everyday Living'




Book blurb:

Many new pieces of technology can be beneficial to individuals living with dementia, including both hardware and software. This straightforward guide summarises the current research on this growing topic, and gives practical advice on how available technology can be used to improve the everyday lives of people with dementia. Looking at a range of available products, such as off-the-shelf computers and smartphones, to dementia specific applications and programs, it also addresses some common obstacles and barriers faced when introducing technology in dementia care. The past twenty years have seen an array of technologies developed to improve the day-to-day lives of people with dementia; this guide shows how they can be effectively used.

There is also a blog post regarding the book which you can find here: http://www.jkp.com/jkpblog/2019/09/use-of-technology-in-dementia-care/ 

If you would like to purchase the book you can do so here: https://www.jkp.com/uk/using-technology-in-dementia-care.html


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Dr Mahnaz Arvaneh to Sky and BBC News on the Future of Brain-computer Interfaces

Our colleague Dr Mahnaz Arvaneh from the University of Sheffield speaks to Sky News about the future of brain-computer interfaces 

 


Dr Mahnaz Arvaneh recently featured on Sky News and BBC new where she spoke with them about the future of brain-computer interfaces and the benefits of this assistive technology. Here's a clip from The University of Sheffield where She talks about her work:  https://digitalmedia.sheffield.ac.uk/media/Using+a+Brain-Computer+Interface/1_bpblmvte

For more on the project check out @ShefACSE on twitter!

Monday, 14 October 2019

Project in Bangalore gets National Media Attention


A project that Professor Luc de Witte is working on with Bangalore Baptist Hospital in India has recently appeared in a national Indian newspaper, The Hindu. The article entitled ‘Study finds undernutrition in children and obesity in adults’, features colleagues based in India, Dr Carolin Elizabeth George and Dr Gift Norman. Read the newspaper extract below:



Thursday, 10 October 2019

CATCH Researchers demonstrating Impact and Legacy

Our CATCH Researchers working in the Telehealth and Care Technologies Theme (TaCT) have been funded and supported by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Yorkshire and Humber (YH) January 2014 - 30th September 2019.

 

 

NIHR CLAHRC YH ended on 30th September 2019 and we have produced a number of communications to disseminate our impact and legacy.

 

The NIHR CLAHRC YH vision was to undertake high quality applied research and evidence-based implementation that is responsive to, and in partnership with, our collaborating organisation, patients, carers and the public. The outcome being an improvement in both the health and wealth of the population of Yorkshire and Humber. The CLAHRC YH principles were Engagement, Co-production, Capacity Building and Addressing Health Inequalities
NIHR CLAHRC YH has produced a final Impact and Legacy brochure which demonstrates a snapshot of the substantial work we have undertaken across the region. It includes examples of the TaCT work on Encompass and on Urban Slums. A leading example of the TaCT work is their Citizen Science database which has supported NIHR CLAHRC YH’s Patient and Public Involvement Core Principle.

To ensure that our work is accessible we have also produced a series of films highlighting a case study from each of our Themes.
You can see the Telehealth and Care Technologies film here: https://youtu.be/9bF-z5WE0zs
The message of the film is to demonstrate that NIHR CLAHRC YH has:
  • been a collaboration
  • is more than the sum of its parts
  • made a difference to people across Yorkshire and Humber
  • produced high quality research
The film has an introduction and a final message which summarises the work that NIHR CLAHRC YH have carried out over the last five years.

The NIHR CLAHRC YH e-repository is a collection of actionable research tools developed by researchers to help address the challenges of translating research into practice. Tools have been developed for use by clinicians, managers, commissioners, patients, educationalists and other researchers. The tools have been co-developed with end users to ensure their relevance and acceptability. The TACT theme has contributed to tools on
Follow the work of NIHR CLAHRC YH on the twitter community at #CLAHRC_Impact
www.clahrc-yh.nihr.ac.uk will remain live until December 2023 demonstrating Impact and Legacy.


*Image is the cover of the NIHR brochure which can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q_qBRvuWm0E9Ri_eV0YXjC8FHQdsIIfq/view 

 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Successful AAATE Conference in Bologna and Unlocking Human Potential

Professor Luc de Witte and members of CATCH attended the AAATE in August, making excellent contributions. Luc also speaks at 'Unlocking Human Potential' meeting.






From August 28-30, the AAATE has organized its biannual conference on Assistive Technology, this time in Bologna. Two years ago this conference took place in Sheffield. The central theme was 'Global Challenges in Assistive Technology Research, Policy & Practice'. With more then 400 participants this was one of the most successful conferences of the organisation. Researchers from CATCH were involved in 18 of the presentations and had an active role in plenary discussions. Luc de Witte was, in his role of president of the AAATE, one of the co-chairs of the conference. For more information about the conference check out the AAATE website.

One day before the AAATE conference there was a high level policy meeting with representatives of the EU, the WHO, the Italian government and several other stakeholder organizations at international level to discuss how to boost assistive technology-enabled inclusive and sustainable development at global and local level. This meeting, with the title 'Unlocking Human Potential', addressed the role of international organisations, national, regional and local authorities, civil society, academia and industry. Luc de Witte was one of the introductory speakers at this event.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

CATCH contributes to WHO Global Report on Assistive Technology

Professor Luc de Witte attends World Health Organization conference

 




The World Health Organization is preparing a Global Report on Assistive Technology, to be published in 2021. In order to prepare this report a large international consultation meeting was organised in Geneva on August 22-23. Here, about 300 people from across the world gathered to discuss topics that would need to be addressed in the global report. Colleagues from CATCH were involved in 4 of the 70 presentation during these days. The contributions from Sheffield were about a generic quality framework for Assistive Technology service delivery, models for AT provision in low resource settings, a tool to assess environmental factors affecting the use of assistive devices in very low resource settings and so-called 'frugal innovation' and do-it-yourself assistive technology solutions. In the next months the outline of the world report will be defined. The topics addressed by CATCH researchers will certainly get a place in the report. For more information about the WHO GREAT Consultation click here

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Big CACTUS Paper Published in The Lancet Neurology

'Self-managed, computerised speech and language therapy for patients with chronic aphasia post-stroke compared with usual care or attention control (Big CACTUS): a multicentre, single-blinded, randomised controlled trial' the paper reports findings from our 5 year RCT into self managed computer therapy for people with aphasia post stroke.

 Summary

Background

Post-stroke aphasia might improve over many years with speech and language therapy; however speech and language therapy is often less readily available beyond a few months after stroke. We assessed self-managed computerised speech and language therapy (CSLT) as a means of providing more therapy than patients can access through usual care alone.

Methods

In this pragmatic, superiority, three-arm, individually randomised, single-blind, parallel group trial, patients were recruited from 21 speech and language therapy departments in the UK. Participants were aged 18 years or older and had been diagnosed with aphasia post-stroke at least 4 months before randomisation; they were excluded if they had another premorbid speech and language disorder caused by a neurological deficit other than stroke, required treatment in a language other than English, or if they were currently using computer-based word-finding speech therapy. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1) to either 6 months of usual care (usual care group), daily self-managed CSLT plus usual care (CSLT group), or attention control plus usual care (attention control group) with the use of computer-generated stratified blocked randomisation (randomly ordered blocks of sizes three and six, stratified by site and severity of word finding at baseline based on CAT Naming Objects test scores). Only the outcome assessors and trial statistician were masked to the treatment allocation. The speech and language therapists who were doing the outcome assessments were different from those informing participants about which group they were assigned to and from those delivering all interventions. The statistician responsible for generating the randomisation schedule was separate from those doing the analysis. Co-primary outcomes were the change in ability to retrieve personally relevant words in a picture naming test (with 10% mean difference in change considered a priori as clinically meaningful) and the change in functional communication ability measured by masked ratings of video-recorded conversations, with the use of Therapy Outcome Measures (TOMs), between baseline and 6 months after randomisation (with a standardised mean difference in change of 0·45 considered a priori as clinically meaningful). Primary analysis was based on the modified intention-to-treat (mITT) population, which included randomly assigned patients who gave informed consent and excluded those without 6-month outcome measures. Safety analysis included all participants. This trial has been completed and was registered with the ISRCTN, number ISRCTN68798818.

Findings

From Oct 20, 2014, to Aug 18, 2016, 818 patients were assessed for eligibility, of which 278 (34%) participants were randomly assigned (101 [36%] to the usual care group; 97 [35%] to the CSLT group; 80 [29%] to the attention control group). 86 patients in the usual care group, 83 in the CSLT group, and 71 in the attention control group contributed to the mITT. Mean word finding improvements were 1·1% (SD 11·2) in the usual care group, 16·4% (15·3) in the CSLT group, and 2·4% (8·8) in the attention control group. Word finding improvement was 16·2% (95% CI 12·7 to 19·6; p<0·0001) higher in the CSLT group than in the usual care group and was 14·4% (10·8 to 18·1) higher than in the attention control group. Mean changes in TOMs were 0·05 (SD 0·59) in the usual care group (n=84), 0·04 (0·58) in the CSLT group (n=81), and 0·10 (0·61) in the attention control group (n=68); the mean difference in change between the CSLT and usual care groups was –0·03 (–0·21 to 0·14; p=0·709) and between the CSLT and attention control groups was –0·01 (–0·20 to 0·18). The incidence of serious adverse events per year were rare with 0·23 events in the usual care group, 0·11 in the CSLT group, and 0·16 in the attention control group. 40 (89%) of 45 serious adverse events were unrelated to trial activity and the remaining five (11%) of 45 serious adverse events were classified as unlikely to be related to trial activity.

Interpretation

CSLT plus usual care resulted in a clinically significant improvement in personally relevant word finding but did not result in an improvement in conversation. Future studies should explore ways to generalise new vocabulary to conversation for patients with chronic aphasia post-stroke.

Funding

National Institute for Health Research, Tavistock Trust for Aphasia.
 
 
Read the full article published by the Lancet.