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Animal magic! PreMedPrep products to improve children’s medical experiences

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A new collaboration is underway between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) and one of its Master’s students, to improve children’s medical experiences.

ATiC is working with MSc Industrial Design student Adam Higgins as he develops his range of PreMedPrep products, which are aimed at preparing children in advance for common healthcare procedures such as blood tests, heart and temperature examinations, and nebulisers for medication intake.

“Healthcare procedures can often cause children to experience anxiety, fear, and stress because of a ‘fear of the unknown’,” said Adam, aged 22, from Rhiwbina in Cardiff, who is a Product Design graduate of UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. 

MSc Industrial Design student, Adam Higgins (Image: UWTSD)

“A child’s lack of understanding of what is happening to them can lead to a negative experience of medical procedures; it can cause fear and anxiety and affect their future medical visits.

“This can have lasting implications and children will often refuse future treatments, which can lead to longer procedure times and makes the work of healthcare professionals more challenging.”

To address these challenges – for both young patients and healthcare providers – Adam has developed the range of PreMedPrep product prototypes. The products aim to teach, engage, and prepare children for their medical procedure, offering  the child a sense of control and autonomy back over their healthcare.

The products provide users with the knowledge of how a procedure works through a realistic procedure demonstration, in an engaging and comforting way through the products’ bright and colourful animal themes.

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The collection of three PreMedPrep products are each specific to a certain procedure or examination.

The Elephant, called Eilo, is specific to blood tests. Eilo can provide children with a realistic demonstration of a blood test, using an interactive needle and ‘magic’ syringe. The needle and syringe are designed to look/replicate real medical equipment, making the transition from ‘play’ to real as comforting as possible.

The product is equipped with a viewing window, located on the front, and an exposed tube located on the rear of the product. When a needle is inserted into the elephant, you can see blood empty from the viewing window but also travel through the tube.

These functions give an opportunity for children to understand what is happening inside their own bodies during a real blood test.

The Giraffe, called Geo, tackles common examinations that are often overlooked, specific to temperature and heart rate readings. The product provides real-time readings of temperatures and heart rates, using real medical thermometers and stethoscopes.

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The product is programmed to demonstrate what a positive and negative temperature/heart rate is, and is an innovative way to engage children with real medical equipment used in the examinations.

The Tiger, called Tigo, is specific to nebulisers. The product provides a demonstration of how you take medicine through a mask.  By pressing the mask to the nose of the tiger, it produces a vapour which can be seen in the viewing window on the front of the product.

The products’ use aims to alleviate the ‘unknown’ and will enable children to achieve mastery of their environment by being  better engaged with their treatment.  By understanding and preparing for their procedures, it will support them emotionally and cognitively, improving their overall medical experience.


UWTSD graduate’s innovative medical preparation aid for children is featured on the ‘100 ideas to change the world’ list

University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD) Industrial Design Master’s student Adam Higgins is one of only two Welsh entrants amongst 100 chosen submissions to be showcased in a Global Grad Show, a virtual and interactive year-long exhibition. Adam’s innovative project called ani:MED, is a collection of medical preparation aids…

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Sean Jenkins, ATiC Principal Innovation Fellow, said: “The team were delighted to be approached by one of the UWTSD’s own Master’s students to access the expertise and cutting-edge facilities available at ATiC.  We are looking forward to supporting Adam’s start-up enterprise and to contribute to the successful development of the PreMedPrep products.

“There are no specifically designed products in the current market to support children to understand clinical procedures and reduce their anxiety.  Adam aims to introduce procedure-specific products for some of the most common troubling experiences for them, and ATiC is pleased to work with him to achieve this.

“ATiC will be supporting Adam by undertaking product usability evaluations with clinicians and children using our behavioural observation and analysis systems.  These interaction insights will enable Adam to refine his design and, with ATiC’s assistance, 3D print new prototypes that can be tested again to improve the products further before they are launched in the market.”

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“Studying at UWTSD through my degree and Master’s courses has enabled me to develop the necessary skill set to create, develop, and launch my PreMedPrep product development to the stage it is at now,” added Adam.

“This new collaboration with ATiC and the expertise and facilities I will be able to access as a result will enable me to take the development of my products a stage further. I hope to conduct a detailed analysis of the PreMedPrep product prototypes, using a network of medical practitioners, clinicians, and users to validate and evaluate the designs.

“Consolidating the analysis and insight gained from the practitioners will help develop a revised dependable product, suitable for a future market release.”

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Matthew Archer, Senior Lecturer, Wales Institute of Science and Art, said: “Adam is a focused and self-driven student, who embodies our Master’s programme philosophy of inter-disciplinary collaboration to develop and realise his design thinking.

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“This project is innovative at multiple levels, in considering all aspects of the user engagement and has benefitted from the expertise within ATiC.”

ATiC, an integrated research centre which puts user-centred thinking and strategic innovation tools into practice through its cutting-edge User Experience (UX) and Usability Evaluation research facility located in Swansea’s Innovation Quarter, is a partner in the £24m Accelerate Wales (the Welsh Health Innovation Technology Accelerator) project.

The pioneering Accelerate collaboration between UWTSD, Cardiff University’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator, Swansea University’s Health Technology Centre, and the Life Sciences Hub Wales, is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), through the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO).


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Swansea Bay NHS

Plans for Vascular Hybrid Theatre at Morriston Hospital get a major boost

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Plans for a state-of-the-art new operating theatre at Morriston Hospital which combines a traditional operating room with advanced medical imagery, have taken a huge step forward.

Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan has endorsed the high level multi million pound proposal. This means Swansea Bay University Health Board can now develop the next-stage detailed business case for the Vascular Hybrid Theatre for South West Wales.

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Vascular surgery treats patients with diseased arteries and veins. Blocked arteries can result in limb loss (amputation) and swollen blood vessels (aneurysms) which can burst, resulting in sudden death.

The Vascular Hybrid Theatre, the first in South West Wales, will combine operating theatre functionality and state of the art X-ray imaging equipment. It will treat around 500 patients a year, and some patients who currently need to go to England for treatment will be able to have their care in Swansea instead. The theatre could open early in 2025.

The new theatre will be used by Morrison Hospital’s vascular surgeons and radiologists to carry out minimally invasive techniques, often known as ‘keyhole surgery.

Compared with traditional surgery, hybrid operating theatre surgery is less invasive and less traumatic for patients. The hybrid approach will give patients quicker access to surgery and in some cases could mean the difference between limbs, and lives, being saved.

Currently, a significant number of South West Wales’ patients undergo staged procedures during their care, which can lead to multiple or prolonged stays in hospital.

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Swansea bay University Health Board say that access to these new advanced surgical technologies will allow Morriston’s vascular surgeons to perform both minimally-invasive image guided procedures, as well as traditional open surgery. This will not only improve the overall patient experience, but reduce the risk of amputation, reduce the length of stay in hospital and cut waiting times. 

The hybrid theatre will treat patients from the Swansea Bay, Hywel Dda and Powys health board areas.

Investment in the new theatre will also save a significant amount of money for the health service because the surgical techniques the hybrid model supports not only improve patient outcomes, they are also much more efficient.

The hybrid theatre will also support the clinical staff teaching.

Huma Stone, Swansea Bay UHB’s Associate Service Director, Clinical Support Services for Morriston Hospital, said: “We welcome this long awaited development and are excited that we will be able to treat patients using a combination of traditional surgery and the latest minimally invasive (keyhole) treatments at the same time, saving lives and limbs. This also reduces the number of times a patient is admitted, and shortens the patient stay in hospital.”

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Senior Consultant Vascular Surgeon Louis Fligelstone said: “This brings state of the art facilities to west Wales that will enable optimal treatment of patients with swollen blood vessels (aneurysms) and blocked blood vessels and will save lives and limbs, whilst reducing the time patients spend in hospital.” 

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Charity

Mayor of Llandovery raises over £2k for air ambulance after surviving freak cycling accident

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The Mayor of Llandovery in Carmarthenshire has raised over £2,000 for Wales Air Ambulance after surviving a freak cycling accident that left him unconscious at the side of the road and saw TWO air ambulances sent to his aid.

Mayor Handel Davies and his wife Margaret raised £2,280 during the annual Mayors Charity Ball.

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The successful ball, which included an auction of rugby related paraphernalia and a raffle, also raised funds for Llandovery Hospital League of Friends.

Over 110 guests enjoyed an evening of entertainment, which included ‘an excellent address’ from Wales Air Ambulance chair of trustees David Gilbert. Over £4,500 was raised during the evening for the two good causes.

The Mayor and Mayoress presented the cheque to David Gilbert at a recent base visit at the Wales Air Ambulance’s headquarters in Llanelli.

The mayor has had personal experience of the essential service the Wales Air Ambulance provides after the Charity’s medics were called out to him during the pandemic.

Handel was involved in a freak accident when a dog ran out in front of him whilst out cycling. He was knocked unconscious for 15 minutes and despite two air ambulances being called out to him, luckily for Handel he didn’t need to be airlifted to hospital.

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Mr Davies said: “A sheepdog literally appeared from nowhere at full speed in the blink of an eye hitting the front wheel of my bike at right angles causing me to fall immediately. It happened so quickly I do not remember hitting the road, but the eyewitness commented that had I not been wearing a helmet I would not have survived. The shattered interior of the helmet is evidence of this.

“It took 6-9 months to really recover and get over the impact, which following another serious cycling accident when I was 18, has led me to decide to ‘hang up’ my bicycle and instead attend ‘spin classes’ at the local leisure centre.”

A cheque for £2,280 was presented to Wales Air Ambulance by Mayor of Llandovery, Cllr Handel Davies

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its emergency helicopters in the air and its rapid response vehicles on the road.

The 24/7 emergency service offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’. The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care. 

Reflecting on why the 24/7 Charity was chosen to benefit from the Mayor’s charity Ball, he added: “I have the utmost respect for the incredible and invaluable work the Wales Air Ambulance undertake and as we live in a beautiful part of north Carmarthenshire next to road which is very popular with both cyclists and motor bikers, over the last 25 years we have seen many accidents along this stretch of the A4069 particularly at weekends.

“It seems that almost every weekend during the summer months a Wales Air Ambulance flies overhead to attend to an incident.”

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Jane Griffiths Wales Air Ambulance’s Community Fundraising Manager said: “It was lovely to meet the Mayor and Mayoress of Llandovery during their recent base visit. They’ve raised a fantastic amount for two important causes and we’re extremely grateful for them choosing the Wales Air Ambulance as one of the charities to benefit from the Mayors Charity Ball.

“It’s lovely to hear that the mayor has recovered from his freak accident, and we wish him well for the future. Your support of our lifesaving Charity is much appreciated and will help us to continue to be there for the people of Wales when they need us most.”

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Swansea Bay NHS

£2.5m investment aims to help tackle hospital waiting lists in Swansea Bay by expanding care after surgery

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photo of woman lying in hospital bed

Swansea Bay University Health Board say a £2.5million investment in a new service that provides enhanced recovery support for patients following some types of complex surgery, will open the way for Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals to do even more to tackle waiting lists.

In the wake of the two-year+ pandemic, pressure on waiting lists is higher than ever. Changes to how Swansea Bay University Health Board delivers services; and investment in staff and equipment, are aimed at bringing those waits down the health board says.

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One of the key investments is focused on expanding enhanced post-operative care facilities, which offer a step up from general ward care for patients who need extra support immediately after their operation.

This includes offering patients advanced pain relief, blood pressure monitoring and oxygen support in the immediate 24-48 hour post-operative period.

These facilities and services are not as intensive as high dependency or intensive care units. However, this additional layer of care will offer Swansea Bay hospitals greater flexibility over where that surgery can be carried out.

Opening these services in Singleton and Neath Port Talbot hospitals mean they will soon be able to offer a wider range of certain surgeries which are currently only carried out in Morriston Hospital.

Pankaj Kumar, Deputy Group Medical Director, Morriston Hospital and the project lead said: “In providing these enhanced post-operative care facilities, the health board is providing right-sized, fit for purpose, post-operative care that is responsive to every patients’ needs and is efficient in its delivery of care.

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“It will lead to improved patient care and better clinical outcomes for patients, and will also reduce the time they spend in hospital.”

The health board says that expanding these services will also ease the pressure on critical care units located on the Morriston site, and reduce the risk of a scheduled operation being cancelled at the last minute because an emergency patient needed the bed.

Singleton Hospital, which already carries out some complex surgery, will benefit from four enhanced post-operative recovery beds to begin with (eventual plan is for six beds) offering the enhanced post-operative recovery facilities particularly for colorectal and gynaecology patients.

Neath Port Talbot’s plan to become the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence will be supported by enhanced recovery unit beds being introduced in phase two, with the commissioning of three beds. This development will also help urology surgical patients.

Morriston Hospital already has advanced post-operative care beds as part of post-anaesthetic care unit services to complement its higher level of critical care beds.

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