University group helping to solve NHS challenges

A new group has been formed by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to help solve problems faced by NHS trusts in the coronavirus pandemic and the longer term.

The MedTech Solutions Group is a collective of scientists, engineers and technicians from across the University with expertise in mechatronics and intelligent machines, additive manufacturing, design and development of medical devices, computer vision and machine learning and health sciences.

Now approved by the government’s Crown Commercial Services procurement arm, the group has already completed a number of key initiatives including the design of valves and adapters for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks and visors as well as a range of reusable overalls.

Jim Richards, Professor of Biomechanics at UCLan, said: “This is a rapid response unit in manufacturing and testing that has been set up collaboratively across the University’s various relative skills groups to help respond to the challenges being presented to NHS trusts.

“We are also looking at the issue of masks and how effective they really are, modelling how they work, how particles are distributed around them and recording test results.

“This group has the range of skills required for such challenges across the healthcare sector and we can look at world situations such as Covid-19 and beyond for the longer term now we have the structures in place.“Our focus is wide ranging, from the development of medical technology, through to its evaluation and implementation.”

The units within the organisation include the Computer Vision and Machine Learning Research Group led by Professor Bogdan Matuszewski looking at research, development and deployment of novel methods for analysis of visual information for medical and industrial applications.

The Allied Health Research unit is led by Professor Jim Richards with a mission to increase understanding of allied health practice and improve the quality of life of patients, while Dr Hadley Brooks heads up the Additive Manufacturing Lab with a goal to lower the barriers to innovation by applying additive manufacturing technologies, scanning technologies and computer aided engineering software.

Dr Matthew Dickinson heads up the new wearable robotics area, using developments made by the Additive Manufacturing Lab to provide assistive wearable systems.

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