Could an app help with recovery from brain injuries?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Smart phone

George McDonnell, a BSc student in Computer Science at Oxford Brookes will be presenting his research at the Get Published! Student Research Conference on the University’s Headington Campus on Friday 15 April, 12-2pm. Here George explains how his research could support those affected by a traumatic brain injury.

"We are living in an exciting age for research and innovation. Current research is incredibly diverse and has the ability to change our lives for the better. Across the UK, our institutions are publishing research on an international stage and inspiring a new wave of students to undertake research projects that can make a difference to people all over the world.

"At Oxford Brookes University, our lecturers are committed to supporting students in the pursuit of publishing their research both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. This support opens up a wide range of opportunities for students, including authoring journal articles and presenting work through posters or in oral presentations.

"In February I was lucky enough to present my research alongside fellow students at an event in Parliament hosted by the British Conference of Undergraduate Research. The exhibition, named Poster sin Parliament, featured research from 53 students from 27 British institutions. This event was a very special experience - to have the opportunity to receive feedback from MPs, academics and my fellow students was invaluable. It was inspiring to see the quality of research being carried out by students across the UK.

"My research is focused on the user-centred design of mobile applications. It is aimed at patients who have been affected by a traumatic brain injury. I am working with Oxford’s Headway centre who specialise in supporting people with brain injuries. I recently made a visit to meet the users of the centre, to get to know them and find out how they use mobile devices.

"Keeping track of how well a patient is progressing after a brain injury is a challenging task for researchers and clinicians and can lead to subjective interpretations of a patient’s progression. My research looks into a new way of tracking patient rehabilitation progression through the use of a mobile application, which allows patients to input data about their progress e.g. are they receiving any physical rehabilitation and how often? This data is then securely stored for access by clinicians. These factors can then be measured over time to track their progression.

"The research aims to provide benefits for patients by reducing the need for them to have to visit their clinician to report their progression. Instead they will simply report from the safety and comfort of their own home. It will also reduce the burden on health services by reducing patient appointment numbers.

"Sharing my research allowed the research community to perform an objective analysis on my findings so far and provide me with feedback to then improve my work. In general it is important to publish research in order to widen the body of human knowledge and contribute to further studies.

I was also amazed at the diversity of the research and thoroughly enjoyed learning about their work - I’m sure you will too.

George McDonnell, BSc student in Computer Science

"The Posters in Parliament conference has led to further opportunities for me to publish my work. At the event itself I was approached by a lecturer from Bournemouth University who invited me to submit my poster to the British Human Computer Interaction Conference which takes place in July this year. If accepted I will present my research at the conference alongside top researchers in this field.

"Closer to home, Oxford Brookes is hosting the Get Published! Student Research Conference, a University-wide undergraduate and postgraduate taught research conference, which is one of the first of its type in the country.

"The event will be held from 12pm-2pm on Friday 15 April in the John Henry Brookes Building’s Union Hall on the Headington Campus. Dozens of students will present their research at the event from dissertations, independent studies, visual works and models. I will be presenting my poster at the event.

"I would strongly encourage you to attend the event and discover the research taking place in your community. One of the most rewarding aspects for me at these events is listening to students talk about their research and experience the passion they hold for their subject.

"I was also amazed at the diversity of the research and thoroughly enjoyed learning about their work - I’m sure you will too."

The Get Published! Student Research Conference is free to attend. It will be held in Union Hall on Oxford Brookes’ Headington Campus on Friday 15 April, 12pm-2.00pm and anyone is free to drop in over this time. Further information is available on the GetPublished! webpages.

This article was first published in the Oxford Mail on Tuesday 22 March 2016.