10m people in the UK are living with neurological conditions, caused by injury or disease. Many can be helped by neural prostheses, which involve the use of electronic devices to replace or restore function lost by damage to the nervous system. Examples are cochlear and retinal implants, and brain and nerve stimulators, but their use is restricted by technological limitations arising from a poor interface between tissues and electronics.
The University of Cambridge was awarded a grant of £400,000 to help create a prototyping laboratory for soft neuroprosthetic devices. Its aim is to enable the translation of prostheses with dramatically improved performance and stability, and thus, to have a transformational impact on the lives of many people.
Within the first two years, the intention is to prototype two novel devices, one to help patients suffering from locked-in syndrome, and the other for controlling epileptic seizures in drug-resistant patients.
In order to manage more effectively the interaction with some patients (typically patients with long term conditions who visit the GP regularly), the NHS is now using Group Consultation models rather than the normal 10-15 minutes appointments with a GP. The objective is to achieve better outcomes for patients by facilitating peer support, empowerment, and education, whilst at the same time making life easier for clinicians, who are able to see more patients for longer. It also tends to reduce the number of regular appointments sought by the patient, making more efficient use of time available to the NHS.
Newcastle University under the leadership of Dr Fraser Birrell, who is Academic Lead for Shared Appointments UK, has played a leading role in developing the concept of Group Consultations in the UK. It now wishes to disseminate the model more widely across the NHS using a Virtual Learning and Development Hub which will support training and research in a UK-wide partnership of clinicians and researchers, enabling them to lead group care in their primary care or hospital settings. The Trusts grant of £250,000 will provide the funding required to establish the Virtual Learning and Development Hub.
The project has the potential to make a significant difference to the NHS and its ability to care for those with long term illnesses or disabilities.
RBLI is a 100-year-old charity supporting approximately 300 disabled and elderly people, including, but not exclusively, military veterans, by enabling them to live independently at a unique village in Kent.
RBLI were awarded a grant of £175,000 to support phase two of ‘The Centenary Village’ project to expand the current service, enabling it to support more of the most complex cases. The initiative also includes promoting the charity’s care model nationally and encouraging its replication by other agencies.
In Phase 1 of the project RBLI created 24 adapted apartments, 12 new care suites, and a Day Centre. Phase 2 is to create 20 family homes with disability adaptions, 24 one and two-bedroom (fully accessible) apartments, 24 Assisted Living units, and a two-story Community Centre (including a Gym, training, and welfare services).
A grant of £250,000 was awarded towards the building of a new Centre of Excellence campus to improve the understanding and treatment of mental health in children.
The charity is concerned about the under-provision of mental health services for children and young people in the UK – with less than 1 in 5 of patients able to access the help and support they require, and with treatment often being outdated. It is against this background that the charity embarked on a project to pioneer a radical approach by creating a new Centre of Excellence in Kings Cross.
The centre will provide a space for professionals in research, social care, practice and education, to collaborate their ideas and findings, in contrast to the current strategy of working in silos. The centre will also aim to involve children and their families in all areas of the charity’s work in order to create a general strategy for mental health treatment in the UK and to facilitate translational research.
A grant of £225,000 enabled The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery to open a six-bed EEG Telemetry Ward.
EEG Telemetry, with a video link, simultaneously monitors the behaviour and brain waves of patients with epilepsy, sleep disorders or other causes of “funny turns”. The direct correlation of clinical and neuro-physiological events has proved of fundamental importance in the diagnosis and treatment of unexplained episodes of altered behaviour or consciousness, drug resistant epilepsy requiring surgical removal of the epileptic focus and sleep related problems. The facility is the largest dedicated Telemetry Unit in the UK for adults and has the greatest throughput of patients in the world.