Irish Students partake in European Health Innovation Days

Irish Students partake in European Health Innovation Days

By Brian Markey
Senior ICT Project Manager

In October 2022, a series of Innovation Days, also known as iDays, were run by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to promote health innovation in academic institutions across Europe. I was privileged to attend as a facilitator at the Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) event on behalf of eHealth & Disruptive Technologies. The event was attended by over 90 students, and took place over a day and a half on the 25th and 26th October. The students came from various backgrounds including business, nursing and technology. We divided them into teams of 3 to 4 students, endeavouring to have a mix of backgrounds where possible. They had only 28 hours to come up with innovative solutions to a health problem. 

WOMAN PRESENTING AT DKIT DKIT i-Day Event - 25/26October 2022

Most teams focused on the themes of chronic illness, the elderly and student mental health (which seemed to be a hot topic for many students), with a few looking at other health challenges, including the winning team. The students were guided by the ‘design thinking’ approach from gathering insights through to the prototyping and testing of their solutions.

 

The winning team invented “PhysioLeap”, a robotic glove made from flexible material that is programmable from a smart app. One of the team members, David McCabe, lives with arthritis and says “I was one of the 70% of patients who didn’t complete my physio regime. If I had a comfortable, inconspicuous robotic glove, I would wear it more often and it could be programmed to do my physio for me anywhere, at college, at home, on the bus, literally anywhere. Splints that are currently available are unsightly and awkward, so PhysioLeap gives the patient a comfortable, wearable robotic glove that even looks good!” Using PhysioLeap’s smart app, an occupational or physio therapist can programme a patient’s physio regime into the glove making it more convenient for an arthritis patient to complete their physiotherapy plan and rehabilitate their arthritic hand(s). Therapists can prescribe a physio plan that suits the patient’s mobility, by appropriately adjusting the speed, repetition and regularity of the physio exercises over time. The app tracks progress as the patient’s mobility improves and even sends notifications to congratulate the patient on complying with their physio regime, encouraging them to keep progressing.

 

dConnect and Connected Health and Wellbeing Cluster, which are both based on the DKIT campus and who offer mentoring, training and support to Digital Health startups, were on hand to coach the PhysioLeap team. Sarah Nic Lochlainn of dConnect said, “local tech companies have been generous with their advice and feedback in helping the PhysioLeap team prepare for the final. Robotics and artificial intelligence are the future of healthcare, and PhysioLeap could revolutionise arthritis care.”

 

3 students winners of DKIT i-Day Event - 25/26October 2022

The winning team, DkIT students Kyle McQuillan, John Tayag and David Mc Cabe have partaken in the iDays European final which was held in Vienna on 24th and 25th November. I felt the event was a great opportunity to spark interest among students around the challenges faced in healthcare and the rewarding opportunities that working in this sector can offer. It was great to see that many of the students really enjoyed the event and indicated that opportunities in organisations such as the HSE is something they would now seriously consider as a career path they may wish to pursue.

Published 09/01/23