Wednesday, 24 November 2021

New publication: Non-invasive brain stimulation for treating neurogenic dysarthria; A systematic review

CATCH member, Dr Rebecca Palmer, and colleagues from The University of Sheffield have a published article in Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine.



Although non-invasive central and peripheral stimulations are accruing support as promising treatments in different neurological conditions, their effects on dysarthria have not been systematically investigated.

The purpose of this review was to examine the evidence base of non-invasive stimulation for treating dysarthria, identify which stimulation parameters have the most potential for treatment and determine safety risks.

A systematic review with meta-analysis, when possible, involving publications indexed in MEDLINE, PsychINFO, EMBASE CINHAL the Linguistics and Language Behavioral Abstracts, Web of Science, Cochrane Register of Control Trials and two trial registries was completed. Articles were searched in December 2018 and updated in June 2021 using keywords related to brain and electrical stimulation, dysarthria and research design. Trials with randomised, cross-over or quasi-experimental designs; involving a control group; and investigating treatment of neurogenic dysarthria with non-invasive stimulation were included. Methodological quality was determined with the Cochrane’s Risk of Bias-2 tool.

Evidence for use of non-invasive brain stimulation in treating dysarthria remains inconclusive. Research trials that provide reliable and replicable findings are required.

Please find the full paper here.


Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Prevalence of Coverage of Assistive Technology in the WHO European Region: A Scoping Review

CATCH Professor, Luc de Witte, has participated in a large WHO meeting with Government representatives of more than 30 countries in the WHO EU region about Assistive Technology provision. A report Professor de Witte developed, along with PhD students Alice Spann and Sarah Abdi, about Assistive Technology provision in the 53 European countries formed a basis for this meeting. This is part of a global consultation process to obtain input for the Global Report on Assistive Technology the WHO is developing and of which Professor de Witte is one of the editors.


As of 2021, more than one billion people globally need assistive technology – a number that is set to double by 2050. Assistive technology can enable people living with restrictions in their day-to-day lives because of disability, noncommunicable diseases or ageing to be more independent. Broadly speaking, assistive technology can help to alleviate limitations related to the following six functional categories: hearing, vision, mobility, self-care, communication and cognition. In addition to convincing evidence of its cost-effectiveness, assistive technology has the potential to help
people living with restrictions due to ageing, disease or disability escape marginalization and become empowered to live the life they want to lead and improve their own quality of life and that of the people around them. Despite these benefits, it is estimated that only 10% of people needing assistive technology currently have access to it, even basic devices such as hearing aids or spectacles.

This scoping review aims to provide an overview of what is currently known about the prevalence and coverage of assistive technology in the WHO European Region. It is guided by the following research question: “What is the prevalence of needs, access and coverage of assistive technology and what are facilitators and barriers to access and coverage in the WHO European Region?”. Sixty-two publications included in this review were identified by searching the academic databases Scopus, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Google Scholar. A further 41 publications were identified by national experts within the WHO European Region and the total number of publications included in the analysis was 103. Relevant information was extracted into a data chart and analysed, using a narrative approach.

Please find the full paper here. 



Thursday, 9 September 2021

Social Prescribing and Digital Technologies to improve Healthcare

 Social Prescribing promises to shake up the way we think about healthcare, while Digital Technologies have transformed the way we live and work. How can Social Prescribing and Digital Technologies be used to complement each other, and improve the health and wellbeing of all?


CATCH has recently been part of a project attempting to answer this question, led by the University of Oxford and with the involvement of Aspire, a charity supporting people in Oxfordshire experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, Blenheim Estate, with its famous Palace and grounds, and the world-renowned Eden Project. You can learn more about the project by watching this YouTube video we’ve recently commissioned.

The project has been sponsored by the Pitch-In (Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaboration between HEIs and Industry) programme, supported by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.



Tuesday, 10 August 2021

New publication: CC4H Project Brochure

CATCH members have collaborated on the Circle of Care for Home: Community Stroke Services Sheffield Project Report and Volume 1 has now been published.



The launch of the Circle of Care for Home project was disrupted by Covid-19 and the pilot programme was put on pause for most of 2020. As a result, it was decided to split the project report into two volumes. This first volume contains a brief summary of the process undertaken so far including a series of co-design workshops, real world evaluation and research collaborators continue with an illustrated description of the proposed new service pathway.

For those who are new to Sensory Technologies eShift®, the technology underpinning this new
service, there is a summary to help explain how eShift® communicates with SystmOne. The logic model illustrates how they see Band 4 professional development as well as how their development can be tailored towards a number of efficiency savings.

The research team close this volume with an example of some of the resources that are being designed to help staff as they start working in this new way, as well as a description of the training that still needs to be delivered to staff before they can start. When restrictions are fully lifted and the project pilot can safely resume, the team will follow up with a second volume

Please read the full report here.



Thursday, 8 July 2021

Will innovation solve the problem of staff shortages in Health and Social Care?

CATCH Professor, Luc de Witte, contributes to an article about Healthcare Innovation and Technology published in the Dutch newspaper FD.




The title of the article was “Gaat innovatie het personeelstekort in de zord oplossen?” which translates to “Will innovation solve the problem of staff shortages in Health and Social Care?”

Professor de Witte’s key message is that technology-supported innovations in health and social care should not start from a need to make care more efficient, save costs or increase productivity, but from a need to improve the quality of care, the quality of the work of professionals, and the quality of life of clients/patients. If you start from there, efficiency and cost-effectiveness will follow, but that should not be the starting point.

Even stronger: the article argued that the fact that saving money is often the first criterion, it is one of the main reasons why so little has been achieved in this field the past 15 years, because innovations are being ‘killed’ before they really come to fruition.

    Please find the newspaper here.

    Wednesday, 9 June 2021

    CATCH researchers win funding from EPSRC to set up a research network in robotics for frailty

    Professor Mark Hawley and Professor Luc de Witte of CATCH are part of a team that has won funding from EPSRC to set up a new research network. Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly at UWE Bristol is leading a team of four other UK universities, Sheffield, Heriot Watt, Sheffield Hallam and Hertfordshire. Together they will establish a new network, EMERGENCE.

    The aim of the network is to create and catalyse a robotics for healthcare community.

    It will connect researchers, health and social care professionals, service users, regulators and policy makers, to affect the wider use of healthcare robots to support people living with frailty in the community.

    The EMERGENCE network will explore how robots can be used to support people to better self-manage the conditions that result from frailty.

    It will provide information and data to healthcare practitioners, enabling more timely interventions.

    This project is supported through a three-year £700,000 EPSRC NetworkPlus grant.

    Please read more about funded projects here.




    Thursday, 13 May 2021

    Pitch-In Digital Health Development Webinars

    During the first months of 2021 Kat Easton and Stephen Potter of CATCH, in collaboration with Mindwave Ventures, a digital development company, devised, developed and ran a series of a series of four webinars, each dealing with a different subject in the area of digital health innovation.


    Each webinar, of around 90 minutes’ duration, took the form of a free and, at times, frank discussion among a panel of experts selected to reflect the diversity of experiences and perspectives in the field. The insights and advice offered by the panel would be of value to both novices in digital health, unsure how to take forward their ground-breaking ideas, and seasoned developers, always alert for hints or tips to improve their practice. And the good news for anyone who missed the webinars first time round (or who would like to go back and refresh their memories) is that video recordings of the webinars are now available online. The development of the webinars was supported by Pitch-In: Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaboration between HEIs and Industry, sponsored by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.

    Webinar 1: “Discovery” of user needs in digital health: why bother?

    A fascinating and wide-ranging discussion about all aspects of requirements gathering and user engagement in digital health development.

    Webinar 2: Designing and developing digital health technologies: how to forge a partnership between academia, NHS and industry that really works

    A session full of useful insights into one of the most vital aspects of digital health development: how to forge successful collaborations.

    Webinar 3: Evidence and evaluation: how to design digital health tools with evaluation in mind and gather evidence of impact

    One of the most important aspects of digital health development: how to ensure that evidence-gathering and evaluation become integral parts of the process rather than mere afterthoughts or even forgotten entirely.

    Webinar 4: Onboarding and implementation: how to acquire and retain users of digital health technologies

    A session which addresses one of the challenges in digital health development which it is easy to neglect or underestimate: how to ensure that people use – and continue to use – your digital health tool.



    Thursday, 6 May 2021

    High seroprevalence of COVID-19 infection in a large slum in South India; what does it tell us about managing a pandemic and beyond?

    Professor Luc de Witte and colleagues from Bangalore Baptist Hospital have a new publication in Epidemiology and Infection which is a fully open access journal publishing original reports and reviews on all aspects of infection in humans and animals.


    People living in urban slums or informal settlements are among the most vulnerable communities, highly susceptible to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and vulnerable to the consequences of the measures taken to control the spread of the virus. Fear and stigma related to infection, mistrust between officials and the population, the often-asymptomatic nature of the disease is likely to lead to under-reporting.

    We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the seroprevalence of COVID-19 infection in a large slum in South India 3 months after the index case and recruited 499 adults (age >18 years). The majority (74.3%) were females and about one-third of the population reported comorbidities. The overall seroprevalence of IgG antibody for COVID-19 was 57.9% (95% CI 53.4–62.3). Age, education, occupation and the presence of reported comorbidities were not associated with seroprevalence (P-value >0.05). Case-to-undetected-infections ratio was 1:195 and infection fatality rate was calculated as 2.94 per 10 000 infections. We estimated seroprevalence of COVID-19 was very high in our study population.

    The focus in this slum should shift from infection prevention to managing the indirect consequences of the pandemic. We recommend seroprevalence studies in such settings before vaccination to identify the vulnerability of COVID-19 infection to optimise the use of insufficient resources. It is a wake-up call to societies and nations, to dedicate paramount attention to slums into recovery and beyond – to build, restore and maintain health equity for the ‘Health and Wellbeing of all’.

    Please read the full paper here.





    Archives of Disease in Childhood: ‘Reducing negative emotions in children using social robots; systematic review’

    CATCH members and research colleagues have co-authored a paper and received a publication in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, British Medical Journal.


    Background For many children, visiting the hospital can lead to a state of increased anxiety. Social robots are being explored as a possible tool to reduce anxiety and distress in children attending a clinical or hospital environment. Social robots are designed to communicate and interact through movement, music and speech.

    Objective This systematic review aims at assessing the current evidence on the types of social robots used and their impact on children’s anxiety or distress levels when visiting the hospital for outpatient appointments or planned admissions.

    Methods Databases such as MEDLINE, PubMed, IEEE Xplore, Web of Science, PsychINFO and Google Scholar were queried for papers published between January 2009 and August 2020 reporting the use of social robots interacting with children in hospital or clinical environments.

    Results A total of 10 studies were located and included. Across these 10 studies, 7 different types of robots were used. Anxiety and distress were found to be reduced in the children who interacted with a social robot.

    Conclusions Overall, the evidence suggests that social robots hold a promising role in reducing levels of anxiety or distress in children visiting the hospital. However, research on social robots is at an early stage and requires further studies to strengthen the evidence base.

    Please find the full paper here.



    Wednesday, 14 April 2021

    New publication: ‘Making occupational therapy research visible: amplifying and elevating the contribution and impacts’

    CATCH Clinical Academic OT Natalie Jones and colleagues have article published by the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.


    Researchers are increasingly required to be accountable for research findings and demonstrating outputs from research findings. A review of occupational therapy research promotes the use of impact assessments to make visible research outcomes (Sainty, 2013).

    However, not all impacts are visible to those who are trying to balance the management of clinical services, along with delivering research and enabling clinical academic careers. Nationally and internationally research organisations are increasingly demanding researchers to be open, accountable and transparent in demonstrating the value research adds to healthcare organisations and the way the research impacts are reported are increasingly scrutinised. To capture research impacts we need to have a suitable measure which provides meaningful data for the context and type of project. Research impact frameworks enable organisations and researchers to tell their research impact stories by providing a systematic structure for organising evidence, achievements and case studies.

    This editorial shares the experience of developing a research impact tool for capturing research impacts within an organisation and discusses the importance of using research impact tools to amplify and elevate outcomes of clinical research in occupational therapy.

    Please find the full article here.