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The Medical Graphics Team from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton Science Park has been named as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.

They have been acknowledged for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

The University’s Medical Graphics Team explores the synergy between computer science and medical practice. Through their research work, paramedics will be trained to carry out life-saving procedures using virtual reality technology. The technology enables paramedics to both ‘see’ a virtual patient in situ (at the accident scene or in the back of an ambulance) and ‘feel’ the sensation of needle insertions.

The project has been coordinated with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust. Together, the partnership is exploring how innovative techniques and technologies in computer graphics can be used in medical settings to help patients.

Another project, developed by the Medical Graphics Team in collaboration with the Stroke Department at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, uses the latest generation of virtual reality headsets to help people recover their cognitive abilities following a stroke. The system enables stroke survivors to practice and relearn everyday tasks such as in a kitchen scenario, eg putting bread into a toaster. The current project hopes to reduce the length of time that stroke patients spend in hospital and provide them with a recovery aid that they can continue to use in their own homes.

The Nation’s Lifesavers are fighting diseases, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life, supporting older people and improving our mental health and wellbeing. The selection reveals the amazing use of technology, such as drones to fight malaria, a smart glove for communicating sign language and robots helping older people.  

Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Over 100 universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

Professor Nigel John, who leads the Medical Graphics Team at the University of Chester, said: “It is a fantastic honour for the Medical Graphics Team and our partnership work to feature as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers.

“We’re grateful for the support we have received from the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said:

“When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”

Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep up healthy. The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen. More information on the campaign can be found on the dedicated website

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