Child health technology in the spotlight

The next steps in innovative child health technology in the UK will take place in London this week.

Details of the ground-breaking Centre for Child Health Technology (CCHT) which will create a world first in the UK, will be provided to the Government, Ministers, MPs and Whitehall officials.

Plans for the unique Centre, building on remarkable, pioneering treatments developed by Sheffield Children’s Hospital and other specialist hospitals across the UK, will provide the world’s most advanced healthcare for children and young people. They include novel therapies for injuries, a range of conditions including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and mental health and new and advanced approaches to child health prevention.

“The planned briefing on Wednesday 23 October at Westminster aims to bring key politicians and policymakers together to support the development of the centre to ensure that the UK is a world leader in child health technology,” said Professor Paul Dimitri, Professor of Child Health and Director of Research & Innovation at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The Children’s Hospital is already in the vanguard for offering virtual reality as a way helping or rehabilitating injured children.

Prof Dimitri outlined the case of a teenager with significant upper limb pain from being badly burnt, finding physiotherapy exercises too painful.

“He had been static for a very long time and found it too painful to engage in exercises to improve his mobility. However, we introduced him to the new immersive virtual reality game environment for upper limb rehabilitation. He immediately engaged and was happy to complete his exercises saying he was more than happy to do all his exercises in this way.

“The VR upper limb rehabilitation therapy can be used anywhere in the world not just the UK.”

The Centre for Child Health Technology, to be based on the ground-breaking Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, will co-locate with the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the Oasis Academy School and the University Technical College – already based at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park – providing unrivalled opportunities to work closely with children and young people to improve health behaviours and child health prevention.

Global industry leaders have said that the CCHT will be the first of its kind in the world.

Prof Dimitri added: “The CCHT will provide a truly immersive environment bringing together leading global industry partners, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), academics, clinicians, designers, computer scientists, and engineers directly with patients and their families, providing rapid knowledge transfer for digital and technology development.

“Early years intervention using new, innovative, technological solutions has the potential to greatly improve the health of children as they mature, whilst demonstrating significant savings in the NHS.

“Long-term conditions in childhood, including asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, neurodisability and mental health disorders affect millions of children and cost the NHS billions of pounds annually. New technological ways of delivering children’s healthcare has the potential to save the NHS millions of pounds”

The CCHT will be part of the focus on medical innovations at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, delivered as part of the wider Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation District (AMID) Medical Innovation Campus. The cluster of health, education, and elite sports facilities will drive large-scale industry investment.

The Centre will become part of a rapidly growing cluster of international organisations at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park aimed at improving public health and wellbeing.

The plans have been developed by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust over the last three years, with the support of Sheffield’s Universities, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the private sector.

Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park Project Lead Richard Caborn, has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and other senior decision makers in Government and Whitehall with full details of the project requesting their support.

Global industry leaders such as IBM, Philips and Canon Medical have already expressed support at Sheffield’s vision which comes as the Government embarks on plans for a significant round of investment in new hospitals and health facilities.

Mr Caborn said: “Investing in the CCHT and child health technology makes economic sense for the country and Sheffield City Region. Building of the Centre could be completed within two years, as we have seen with the adjacent Advanced Wellbeing and Research Centre (AWRC).”

“It means that once again Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park will be in the spotlight delivering improvements in public health and wellbeing as part of its tangible legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games.”

Driving the centre is Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust which has a strong track record in delivering child health technology development.