Freeman Hospital

Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Freeman Hospital

Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
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News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

A newly created prosthetic hand gives amputees the closest thing to a real hand. Biomedical engineers from Newcastle University in the U.K. have developed a prosthetic hand that utilizes a camera, which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it and assesses its shape and size. This triggers a series of movements in the limb that allows the user to reach for it more automatically, much like a real hand. This bypassed the usual processes that require the wearer to see the object, physically stimulate the muscles in the arm and trigger a movement in the prosthetic. “Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years—the design is much better and the materials' are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way,” Kianoush Nazarpour, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University, said in a statement. “Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically—in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction.” “Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs,” Nazarpour said. “For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. “Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking,” he added. The limb has already tested well in trials by a small number of amputees and the researchers are working on offering “hands with eyes” to patients at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital. While current prosthetic hands are controlled by the electrical activity of muscles recorded from the skin surface of the stump, the researchers tapped into neural networks to create the new limb that includes for different types of grasps. “We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick,” Ghazal Ghazaei, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up. “So the computer isn't just matching an image, it's learning to recognize objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up,” she added. “It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before—a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs.” According to recent statistics, there are approximately 600 new upper-limb amputees per year.  This discovery is part of a larger initiative to develop a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature and transmit the information back to the brain and to develop electronic devices that connect to the forearm neural networks to allow two-way communications with the brain. Nazarpour said the “hand that sees” limb is a bridge between current designs and future designs. “It's a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal,” he says. “But importantly, it's cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn't require new prosthetics—we can just adapt the ones we have.” Doug McIntosh, a 56-year old from Scotland who lost is right arm from cancer in 1997 and was part of the case study, said the new product gives him hope. “For me it was literally a case of life or limb,” McIntosh said in a statement. “I had developed a rare form of cancer called epithelial sarcoma, which develops in the deep tissue under the skin, and the doctors had no choice but to amputate the limb to save my life. “Losing an arm and battling cancer with three young children was life changing. I left my job as a life support supervisor in the diving industry and spent a year fund-raising for cancer charities,” he added. “It was this and my family that motivated me and got me through the hardest times.”


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

Mind-controlled robotics look like the future of prosthetics -- but what if your prosthetic limb has a mind of its own? A team of researchers at Newcastle University has developed a hand that is able to "see" objects in front of it using a simple Logitech webcam, and respond via software to assess and grasp them. Their research was published this week in the Journal of Neural Engineering. "Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically," said co-author Kianoush Nazarpour, senior lecturer in Biomedical Engineering. "In fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction." The problem with the current crop of prosthetics, which are controlled via the electrical signals sent to the limb's muscles from the brain, the team asserts, is that they don't respond quickly enough. Nazapour's team, however, said their hand is much more intuitive. They trained it using neural network software to recognise a variety of objects, and what sort of grip is required for those objects, such as the difference between a stick, a TV remote and a mug. Moreover, it can recognise the grasp required for specific objects it hasn't encountered before, using the camera to "see" them and then automatically pick the most appropriate grasp. The team has trialed the faster technology with two amputee volunteers previously using split-hook prosthetics. Now, the team is looking to offer the hand to patients at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to develop it further. The ultimate aim of the research is a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature. "It's a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal," Nazarpour said. "But importantly, it's cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn't require new prosthetics -- we can just adapt the ones we have." Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here's your place for the lighter side of tech. Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

Biomedical engineers at Newcastle University are giving new meaning to hand-eye co-ordination by fitting a bionic hand with a camera. Designed to usher in a new generation of smarter prosthetic limbs, the hand undergoing clinical trials uses an off-the-shelf camera combined with machine learning to allow patients to grasp objects automatically without consciously operating the device. Modern prosthetic limbs have come a long way from the metal hooks of yesteryear, but they still have a long way to go. The current generation are mechanical marvels that use myoelectric sensors to pick up electrical impulses from the patient's arm stump to allow them to control movement more naturally, but it's not easy. Despite robotics, new servo motors, and feedback systems, using an artificial hand is still something that requires concentration, patience, and practice. That's because we don't so much control our hands as order them about. To see what this means, do something completely ordinary, like picking up a cup of tea and watch closely what your hand does – the way it approaches the cup, zeroes in on the handle, shifts its grip, and guides the cup as it lifts. For a normal hand, all of this is automatic. We simply order the hand to do what we want, and the lower parts of the central nervous system do the dirty work. But with prosthetic hands, the patient has to constantly tell it what to do because even the most sophisticated artificial hand is less of a limb and more a tool that requires step-by-step directions. What the Newcastle University team is trying to do is develop a bionic hand that uses an inexpensive digital camera to analyze objects as the patient reaches for them, sorts out their shape and size, and alters its grip appropriately. The idea is that instead of the patient controlling how the hand moves, the prosthetic itself takes over like a car with a self-parking mode. "Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years – the design is much better and the materials' are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way," says Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University. "Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically – in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction. "Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs. For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking." The key to the new hand is machine learning. To train the hand, what is called a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) was created. This artificial intelligence network was then trained using 72 images, taken at five degree intervals, of over 500 graspable objects, which were then separated into four "grasp classes" – pinch, tripod, palmar wrist neutral and palmar wrist pronated. After fine tuning, it was then tested in real time with the training objects and new ones. "We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick," says lead author of the study, Ghazal Ghazaei. "But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up. So the computer isn't just matching an image, it's learning to recognize objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up. It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before – a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs." In practical terms, this meant that by attaching a 99p (US$1.28) camera to the hand, the engineers could program it to recognize an object and select the appropriate grip to pick it up, such as palm wrist neutral grip to pick up a cup or a palm wrist pronated to retrieve a TV remote. Equally important, it does this in milliseconds, which the team says is 10 times faster than current prosthetics. The researchers say the new hand is also more flexible than alternative systems and better able to handle strange objects without relying on a giant database of images. Working with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the team is providing the hand to patients at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital. However, the bionic hand and its camera are seen as an intermediate solution until a more advanced prosthetic can be built that includes sophisticated sensors and is controlled directly by the patient's brain. "It's a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal," says Nazarpour. "But importantly, it's cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn't require new prosthetics – we can just adapt the ones we have." The project was published in the Journal of Neural Engineering. The video below shows how a fully developed camera hand would work.


The North East regional branch of IMechE will hold their annual Chairman's Dinner on 12 May to raise money for The Sick Children's Trust The North East regional branch of an international engineering society has chosen The Sick Children’s Trust to benefit from its prestigious annual dinner next month. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), which represents over 115,000 members worldwide, has chosen The Sick Children’s Trust to benefit from its regional annual charity dinner on Friday 12 May at Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield. The organisers of the event, which celebrates the achievements of its members in the North East, are hoping it will raise over £2,500 for the charity which supports families with seriously ill children in hospital with ‘Home from Home’ accommodation. The Sick Children’s Trust runs two ‘Homes from Home’ in Newcastle upon Tyne, supporting thousands of families from across the North East when their child is undergoing lifesaving treatment at both the Freeman Hospital and Royal Victoria Infirmary. IMechE North East Chairman Chris Briggs, says: “We are thrilled to be supporting The Sick Children’s Trust. We always choose a charity active in the region and The Sick Children’s Trust helps so many families who have children in hospital in Newcastle. We hope by choosing them as our benefitting charity, our guests will dig deep to help the charity help even more families with seriously ill children in hospital.” The dinner is the keynote event in the IMechE’s Regional calendar, and is sponsored once again by British Engines Ltd. Guests who attend can expect a fantastic evening, with guest speaker Kevin Connelly, the celebrated impressionist from TV's 'Dead Ringers' and a four-course dinner with wine. The evening promises to be a great opportunity to network with peers from across the engineering community. The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country supporting, over 4,000 families with seriously ill children in hospital every year. Although ‘Home from Home’ accommodation is provided free to families, it costs the charity £30 to support a family for one night. Caroline O’Doherty, Campaigns and Appeals Manager at The Sick Children’s Trust says: “We were delighted when Chris told us that we were IMechE’s chosen charity for the annual dinner. The money raised from the event will go a long way towards providing families in the region with a ‘Home from Home’ when their child is undergoing lifesaving treatment in hospital. We’d like to say a huge thank you to IMechE for choosing to support us; thanks to your generosity, we can be there for the increasing number of families who rely on us to keep them together with their sick child..” Ticket sales for the dinner are now closed but it’s still possible to make a donation to the charity at http://www.sickchildrenstrust.org/Donate/index.html For more information: Please contact Alexandra Glatman on 0207 337 2213 or email [email protected]


News Article | May 5, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Led by biomedical engineers at Newcastle University and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the bionic hand is fitted with a camera that instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand. Bypassing the usual processes that require the user to see the object, physically stimulate the muscles in the arm and trigger a movement in the prosthetic limb, the hand ‘sees’ and reacts in one fluid movement. A small number of amputees have already trialed the new technology and now the Newcastle University team is working with experts at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer the ‘hands with eyes’ to patients at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital. The team published their findings in the Journal of Neural Engineering, “Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years – the design is much better and the materials’ are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way," explained Kianoush Nazarpour, co-author and senior lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University. “Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically – in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction. “Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs. For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. “Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an ‘intuitive’ hand that can react without thinking.” Recent statistics show that in the UK there are around 600 new upper-limb amputees every year, of which 50 percent are in the age range of 15- to 54-years-old. In the U.S. there are 500,000 upper limb amputees a year. Current prosthetic hands are controlled via myoelectric signals – that is electrical activity of the muscles recorded from the skin surface of the stump. Controlling them, says Nazarpour, takes practice, concentration and, crucially, time. Using neural networks – the basis for Artificial Intelligence - lead author on the study Ghazal Ghazaei showed the computer numerous object images and taught it to recognize the ‘grip’ needed for different objects. “We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick,” explains Ghazaei, who carried out the work as part of her PhD in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University. “But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up. “So the computer isn’t just matching an image, it’s learning to recognize objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up. “It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before – a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs.” Grouping objects by size, shape and orientation, according to the type of grasp that would be needed to pick them up, the team programmed the hand to perform four different ‘grasps:’ palm wrist neutral (such as when you pick up a cup); palm wrist pronated (such as picking up the TV remote); tripod (thumb and two fingers) and pinch (thumb and first finger). Using a 99p camera fitted to the prosthesis, the hand ‘sees’ an object, picks the most appropriate grasp and sends a signal to the hand – all within a matter of milliseconds and 10 times faster than any other limb currently on the market. “One way would have been to create a photo database of every single object but clearly that would be a massive task and you would literally need every make of pen, toothbrush, shape of cup – the list is endless,” says Nazarpour. “The beauty of this system is that it’s much more flexible and the hand is able to pick up novel objects – which is crucial since in everyday life people effortlessly pick up a variety of objects that they have never seen before.” The work is part of a larger research project to develop a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature and transmit the information back to the brain. Led by Newcastle University and involving experts from the universities of Leeds, Essex, Keele, Southampton and Imperial College London, the aim is to develop novel electronic devices that connect to the forearm neural networks to allow two-way communications with the brain. Reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s artificial hand, the electrodes in the bionic limb would wrap around the nerve endings in the arm.  This would mean for the first time the brain could communicate directly with the prosthesis. The ‘hand that sees,’ explains Nazarpour, is an interim solution that will bridge the gap between current designs and the future. “It’s a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal,” he says. “But importantly, it’s cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn’t require new prosthetics – we can just adapt the ones we have.” Anne Ewing, advanced occupational therapist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been working with Nazarpour and his team. “I work with upper limb amputee patients which is extremely rewarding, varied and at times challenging,” she said. “We always strive to put the patient at the heart of everything we do and so make sure that any interventions are client centred to ensure patients’ individual goals are met either with a prosthesis or alternative method of carrying out a task. “This project in collaboration with Newcastle University has provided an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of upper limb prosthetics, working towards achieving patients’ prosthetic expectations and it is wonderful to have been involved." “For me it was literally a case of life or limb,” says Doug McIntosh, who lost his right arm in 1997 through cancer. “I had developed a rare form of cancer called epithelial sarcoma, which develops in the deep tissue under the skin, and the doctors had no choice but to amputate the limb to save my life. “Losing an arm and battling cancer with three young children was life changing.  I left my job as a life support supervisor in the diving industry and spent a year fund-raising for cancer charities. “It was this and my family that motivated me and got me through the hardest times.” Since then, Doug has gone on to be an inspiration to amputees around the world.  Becoming the first amputee to cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 100hrs, cycle around the coast line of Britain, he has run three London Marathons, cycled The Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012 and 2014 and in 2014 cycled with the British Lions Rugby Team to Murrayfield Rugby Stadium for “Walking with Wounded” Charity.  He is currently preparing to do Mont Ventoux this September, three cycle climbs in one day for Cancer Research UK and Maggie’s Cancer Centres. Involved in the early trials of the first myoelectric prosthetic limbs, Doug has been working with the Newcastle team to trail the new hand that sees. “The problem is there’s nothing yet that really comes close to feeling like the real thing,” explains the father-of-three who lives in Westhill, Aberdeen with his wife of 32 years, Diane. “Some of the prosthetics look very realistic but they feel slow and clumsy when you have a working hand to compare them to. “In the end I found it easier just to do without and learn to adapt.  When I do use a prosthesis I use a split hook which doesn’t look pretty but does the job.” But he says the new, responsive hand being developed in Newcastle is a ‘huge leap forward.’ “This offers for the first time a real alternative for upper limb amputees,” he says. “For me, one of the ways of dealing with the loss of my hand was to be very open about it and answer people’s questions.  But not everyone wants that and so to have the option of a hand that not only looks realistic but also works like a real hand would be an amazing breakthrough and transform the recovery time – both physically and mentally – for many amputees.”


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: phys.org

Led by biomedical engineers at Newcastle University, UK, and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the bionic hand is fitted with a camera which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand. Bypassing the usual processes which require the user to see the object, physically stimulate the muscles in the arm and trigger a movement in the prosthetic limb, the hand 'sees' and reacts in one fluid movement. A small number of amputees have already trialled the new technology and now the Newcastle University team are working with experts at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer the 'hands with eyes' to patients at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital. Publishing their findings today in the Journal of Neural Engineering, co-author on the study Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University, explains: "Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years—the design is much better and the materials' are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way. "Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically—in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction. "Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs. For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. "Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking." Recent statistics show that in the UK there are around 600 new upper-limb amputees every year, of which 50% are in the age range of 15-54 years old. In the US there are 500,000 upper limb amputees a year. Current prosthetic hands are controlled via myoelectric signals - that is electrical activity of the muscles recorded from the skin surface of the stump. Controlling them, says Dr Nazarpour, takes practice, concentration and, crucially, time. Using neural networks—the basis for Artificial Intelligence—lead author on the study Ghazal Ghazaei showed the computer numerous object images and taught it to recognise the 'grip' needed for different objects. "We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick," explains Miss Ghazaei, who carried out the work as part of her PhD in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University. "But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up. "So the computer isn't just matching an image, it's learning to recognise objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up. "It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before—a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs." Grouping objects by size, shape and orientation, according to the type of grasp that would be needed to pick them up, the team programmed the hand to perform four different 'grasps': palm wrist neutral (such as when you pick up a cup); palm wrist pronated (such as picking up the TV remote); tripod (thumb and two fingers) and pinch (thumb and first finger). Using a 99p camera fitted to the prosthesis, the hand 'sees' an object, picks the most appropriate grasp and sends a signal to the hand—all within a matter of milliseconds and ten times faster than any other limb currently on the market. "One way would have been to create a photo database of every single object but clearly that would be a massive task and you would literally need every make of pen, toothbrush, shape of cup—the list is endless," says Dr Nazarpour. "The beauty of this system is that it's much more flexible and the hand is able to pick up novel objects—which is crucial since in everyday life people effortlessly pick up a variety of objects that they have never seen before." The work is part of a larger research project to develop a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature and transmit the information back to the brain. Led by Newcastle University and involving experts from the universities of Leeds, Essex, Keele, Southampton and Imperial College London, the aim is to develop novel electronic devices that connect to the forearm neural networks to allow two-way communications with the brain. Reminiscent of Luke Skywalker's artificial hand, the electrodes in the bionic limb would wrap around the nerve endings in the arm. This would mean for the first time the brain could communicate directly with the prosthesis. The 'hand that sees', explains Dr Nazarpour, is an interim solution that will bridge the gap between current designs and the future. "It's a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal," he says. "But importantly, it's cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn't require new prosthetics—we can just adapt the ones we have." Anne Ewing, Advanced Occupational Therapist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been working with Dr Nazarpour and his team. "I work with upper limb amputee patients which is extremely rewarding, varied and at times challenging," she said. "We always strive to put the patient at the heart of everything we do and so make sure that any interventions are client centred to ensure patients' individual goals are met either with a prosthesis or alternative method of carrying out a task. "This project in collaboration with Newcastle University has provided an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of upper limb prosthetics, working towards achieving patients' prosthetic expectations and it is wonderful to have been involved." "For me it was literally a case of life or limb," says Doug McIntosh, who lost his right arm in 1997 through cancer. "I had developed a rare form of cancer called epithelial sarcoma, which develops in the deep tissue under the skin, and the doctors had no choice but to amputate the limb to save my life. "Losing an arm and battling cancer with three young children was life changing. I left my job as a life support supervisor in the diving industry and spent a year fund-raising for cancer charities. "It was this and my family that motivated me and got me through the hardest times." Since then, Doug has gone on to be an inspiration to amputees around the world. Becoming the first amputee to cycle from John O'Groats to Land's End in 100hrs, cycle around the coast line of Britain, he has run three London Marathons, cycled The Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012 and 2014 and in 2014 cycled with the British Lions Rugby Team to Murrayfield Rugby Stadium for "Walking with Wounded" Charity. He is currently preparing to do Mont Ventoux this September, three cycle climbs in one day for Cancer Research UK and Maggie's Cancer Centres. Involved in the early trials of the first myoelectric prosthetic limbs, Doug has been working with the Newcastle team to trail the new hand that sees. "The problem is there's nothing yet that really comes close to feeling like the real thing," explains the father-of-three who lives in Westhill, Aberdeen with his wife of 32 years, Diane. "Some of the prosthetics look very realistic but they feel slow and clumsy when you have a working hand to compare them to. "In the end I found it easier just to do without and learn to adapt. When I do use a prosthesis I use a split hook which doesn't look pretty but does the job." But he says the new, responsive hand being developed in Newcastle is a 'huge leap forward'. "This offers for the first time a real alternative for upper limb amputees," he says. "For me, one of the ways of dealing with the loss of my hand was to be very open about it and answer people's questions. But not everyone wants that and so to have the option of a hand that not only looks realistic but also works like a real hand would be an amazing breakthrough and transform the recovery time—both physically and mentally—for many amputees." Explore further: Bionic hand that is 'sensitive' to touch and temperature More information: G. Ghazaei, A. Alameer, P. Degenaar, G. Morgan, and K. Nazarpour, "Deep learning-based artificial vision for grasp classification in myoelectric hands," Journal of Neural Engineering, 17(3): 036025, 2017.


News Article | May 3, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A new generation of prosthetic limbs which will allow the wearer to reach for objects automatically, without thinking -- just like a real hand -- are to be trialled for the first time. Led by biomedical engineers at Newcastle University, UK, and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the bionic hand is fitted with a camera which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand. Bypassing the usual processes which require the user to see the object, physically stimulate the muscles in the arm and trigger a movement in the prosthetic limb, the hand 'sees' and reacts in one fluid movement. A small number of amputees have already trialled the new technology and now the Newcastle University team are working with experts at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer the 'hands with eyes' to patients at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital. Publishing their findings today in the Journal of Neural Engineering, co-author on the study Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University, explains: "Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years -- the design is much better and the materials' are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way. "Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically -- in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction. "Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs. For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. "Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking." Recent statistics show that in the UK there are around 600 new upper-limb amputees every year, of which 50% are in the age range of 15-54 years old. In the US there are 500,000 upper limb amputees a year. Current prosthetic hands are controlled via myoelectric signals - that is electrical activity of the muscles recorded from the skin surface of the stump. Controlling them, says Dr Nazarpour, takes practice, concentration and, crucially, time. Using neural networks -- the basis for Artificial Intelligence -- lead author on the study Ghazal Ghazaei showed the computer numerous object images and taught it to recognise the 'grip' needed for different objects. "We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick," explains Miss Ghazaei, who carried out the work as part of her PhD in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University. "But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up. "So the computer isn't just matching an image, it's learning to recognise objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up. "It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before -- a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs." Grouping objects by size, shape and orientation, according to the type of grasp that would be needed to pick them up, the team programmed the hand to perform four different 'grasps': palm wrist neutral (such as when you pick up a cup); palm wrist pronated (such as picking up the TV remote); tripod (thumb and two fingers) and pinch (thumb and first finger). Using a 99p camera fitted to the prosthesis, the hand 'sees' an object, picks the most appropriate grasp and sends a signal to the hand -- all within a matter of milliseconds and ten times faster than any other limb currently on the market. "One way would have been to create a photo database of every single object but clearly that would be a massive task and you would literally need every make of pen, toothbrush, shape of cup -- the list is endless," says Dr Nazarpour. "The beauty of this system is that it's much more flexible and the hand is able to pick up novel objects -- which is crucial since in everyday life people effortlessly pick up a variety of objects that they have never seen before." The work is part of a larger research project to develop a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature and transmit the information back to the brain. Led by Newcastle University and involving experts from the universities of Leeds, Essex, Keele, Southampton and Imperial College London, the aim is to develop novel electronic devices that connect to the forearm neural networks to allow two-way communications with the brain. Reminiscent of Luke Skywalker's artificial hand, the electrodes in the bionic limb would wrap around the nerve endings in the arm. This would mean for the first time the brain could communicate directly with the prosthesis. The 'hand that sees', explains Dr Nazarpour, is an interim solution that will bridge the gap between current designs and the future. "It's a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal," he says. "But importantly, it's cheap and it can be implemented soon because it doesn't require new prosthetics -- we can just adapt the ones we have." Anne Ewing, Advanced Occupational Therapist at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been working with Dr Nazarpour and his team. "I work with upper limb amputee patients which is extremely rewarding, varied and at times challenging," she said. "We always strive to put the patient at the heart of everything we do and so make sure that any interventions are client centred to ensure patients' individual goals are met either with a prosthesis or alternative method of carrying out a task. "This project in collaboration with Newcastle University has provided an exciting opportunity to help shape the future of upper limb prosthetics, working towards achieving patients' prosthetic expectations and it is wonderful to have been involved." "For me it was literally a case of life or limb," says Doug McIntosh, who lost his right arm in 1997 through cancer. "I had developed a rare form of cancer called epithelial sarcoma, which develops in the deep tissue under the skin, and the doctors had no choice but to amputate the limb to save my life. "Losing an arm and battling cancer with three young children was life changing. I left my job as a life support supervisor in the diving industry and spent a year fund-raising for cancer charities. "It was this and my family that motivated me and got me through the hardest times." Since then, Doug has gone on to be an inspiration to amputees around the world. Becoming the first amputee to cycle from John O'Groats to Land's End in 100hrs, cycle around the coast line of Britain, he has run three London Marathons, cycled The Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam 2012 and 2014 and in 2014 cycled with the British Lions Rugby Team to Murrayfield Rugby Stadium for "Walking with Wounded" Charity. He is currently preparing to do Mont Ventoux this September, three cycle climbs in one day for Cancer Research UK and Maggie's Cancer Centres. Involved in the early trials of the first myoelectric prosthetic limbs, Doug has been working with the Newcastle team to trail the new hand that sees. "The problem is there's nothing yet that really comes close to feeling like the real thing," explains the father-of-three who lives in Westhill, Aberdeen with his wife of 32 years, Diane. "Some of the prosthetics look very realistic but they feel slow and clumsy when you have a working hand to compare them to. "In the end I found it easier just to do without and learn to adapt. When I do use a prosthesis I use a split hook which doesn't look pretty but does the job." But he says the new, responsive hand being developed in Newcastle is a 'huge leap forward'. "This offers for the first time a real alternative for upper limb amputees," he says. "For me, one of the ways of dealing with the loss of my hand was to be very open about it and answer people's questions. But not everyone wants that and so to have the option of a hand that not only looks realistic but also works like a real hand would be an amazing breakthrough and transform the recovery time -- both physically and mentally -- for many amputees."


"We hope the money raised will help The Sick Children’s Trust continue its great work and reach out to more families who needs its support.” The North East regional branch of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has raised an outstanding £5,050 for The Sick Children’s Trust from its annual Chairman’s dinner held earlier this month. IMechE North East Chairman Chris Briggs chose The Sick Children’s Trust as the chosen charity for the event and hoped to raise £2,500 for the charity which supports families with children undergoing lifesaving treatment. However, following generous donations from attendees, a superb raffle and auction the evening doubled the initial fundraising target, raising over £5,000. The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Homes’ across the country supporting families with seriously ill children in hospital. Two of its ‘Homes from Home’ are located in Newcastle upon Tyne at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Freeman Hospital. The money raised from the North East IMechE dinner will go towards running both ‘Homes from Home’ in the North East. Chris Briggs says: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, British Engines, and all our guests for making the event at Hardwick Hall such a huge success. Because of everyone’s support, we were able to raise more than double our target for The Sick Children’s Trust, a charity that helps so many families going through the most traumatic times. We hope the money raised will help The Sick Children’s Trust continue its great work and reach out to more families who needs its support.” The Sick Children’s Trust supports over 4,000 families with seriously ill children in hospital every year. Caroline O’Doherty, Campaigns and Appeals Manager at The Sick Children’s Trust says: “We’re absolutely delighted with the tremendous amount raised. The guests were so generous with their donations and we simply can’t thank Chris and the rest of the IMechE members enough for choosing The Sick Children’s Trust as the benefiting charity of the dinner. “Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we can be there for the increasing number of families from the North East and beyond who rely on us to keep them together with their sick child.” For more information about The Sick Children’s Trust, please visit: www.sickchildrenstrust.org


In the last 25 years, chromogenic culture media have found widespread application in diagnostic clinical microbiology. In the last decade, the range of media available to clinical laboratories has expanded greatly, allowing specific detection of additional pathogens, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, group B streptococci, Clostridium difficile, Campylobacter spp., and Yersinia enterocolitica. New media have also been developed to screen for pathogens with acquired antimicrobial resistance, including vancomycin-resistant enterococci, carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp., and Enterobacteriaceae with extended-spectrum β-lactamases and carbapenemases. This review seeks to explore the utility of chromogenic media in clinical microbiology, with particular attention given to media that have been commercialized in the last decade. The impact of laboratory automation and complementary technologies such as matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is also assessed. Finally, the review also seeks to demarcate the role of chromogenic media in an era of molecular diagnostics. © Crown copyright 2017.


The use of impaction grafting in revisions with larger acetabular bone defects has mixed outcomes and sometimes high failures rates. This prospective, single-center study involved a consecutive series of 24 patients who underwent complex reconstruction of the acetabulum using a trabecular metal augment, impaction bone grafting, and a cemented high-density polyethylene cup. Patients were followed for median 5 (3-7) years. The 2-year WOMAC pain, function, and stiffness scores improved, as did certain components (bodily pain, physical function, role physical, role emotional, physical component score, and social function) of the SF-36 (p < 0.05). 23 of the patients were very satisfied with the overall outcome of the surgery and would have undergone the surgery again for a similar problem, and 19 reported great improvement in their quality of life after surgery. Radiographs at the latest follow-up revealed incorporation of the augment with mean change in acetabular component inclination of less than 1 degree (p > 0.05) and cup migration of less than 5 mm in both horizontal and vertical axes (p > 0.05). 1 patient required further revision at 13 months and was found to have a fractured augment at re-revision. This study shows that trabecular metal augments are effective in filling the bone defect and provide a stable foundation for impaction bone grafting. We found satisfactory clinical and radiographic results using this technique, with low failure rate at a median follow-up time of 5 years.

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