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UK AT Sector Welcomes the Essential Assistive Products List Survey

UK AT Sector Welcomes the Essential Assistive Products List Survey

The British Assistive Technology Association and World Health Organisation GATE Programme are pleased to have received an overwhelmingly positive response to the UK APL (Assistive Products List) survey.

Initial organisational stakeholders aware of the initiative, met on 21st July and have subsequently committed to supporting the UK APL roadmap. The goal is to bring together all those using or connected to AT, to develop a list of which assistive products are essential for living a fully accessible life in the UK today.

Through establishing this first UK APL, we see that as a newly unified stakeholder community we shall be able to move forward to provide policy makers with the opinions and data they need to advance equitable access to high-quality AT in the UK.

As a group of stakeholders we will be a space for the voices of the UK AT ecosystem to hear each other’s concerns, and firstly work together to identify what barriers and gaps there are to accessing the most essential assistive products that people need in the UK in 2020-21.

To establish a comprehensive UK APL we are reaching out to all organisations and individuals who use assistive products, to complete the survey and make recommendations of which products that they feel should be considered for the final essential list.

The survey is based upon the WHO global template APL and is a guide for us to develop. We must devise an APL to represent our own experience in the UK today, so please take the time to complete the survey which can be found here: and strengthen the message of how vital AT is in our lives.

Please connect to the group or groups of stakeholders that are important to your area of experience and knowledge. Links to where you can apply to join the specialised domain stakeholder groups are also found on this page.

Esther Dakin-Poole, the UK APL Coordinator would welcome all organisations, individual users and advocates to contact her. You can inform her about your work or lived experience and formally confirm your involvement. This will ensure that you or your organisation are fully represented and that you are kept informed of progress.

Remember, if you wear a pair of reading glasses or orthotics in your shoes, you use AT. AT is everywhere and luckily it is widely available in the UK for the many not just the few. Make your voice heard and take the survey today:

To contact Esther Dakin-Poole, UK APL Coordinator please email:

Published: 14th August 2020

Source: BATA (British Assistive Technology Association)

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Medical Devices: Software Applications (Apps)

Medical Devices: Software Applications (Apps)

Information on when software applications are considered to be a medical device and how they are regulated.

Guidance on what a software application medical device is and how to comply with the legal requirements.

Read the statement on the launch of the guidance

For full functionality, this document is best viewed in Acrobat reader.

Published: 8th August 2020

Source: GOV UK, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

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Smartphone Technology Could Speed Up UTI Diagnosis

Smartphone Technology Could Speed Up UTI Diagnosis
Clinical Services Journal

Biological Engineers at the University of Bath have developed a test that could help medics quickly diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs), using a normal smartphone camera.

Similar in principle to a pregnancy test, the process can identify the presence of harmful E. coli bacteria in a urine sample in just 25 minutes. 

As well as being far faster than existing testing, it could make accurate UTI testing more widely available in developing nations and remote regions thanks to its potential to be made portable, and far more cheaply than existing lab-based tests.

E. coli is present in 80% of bacterial UTIs, so if it is found it tells medical professionals that an antibiotic treatment is needed. As well as a smartphone camera, the test, which could be adapted to detect a variety of bacterial infections, takes advantage of widely-available reagents and new micro-engineered materials. Researchers say the simplicity of the test, which has now passed the proof-of-concept stage, could deliver a new way to quickly identify treatments for patients in poorer or remote regions.

Described in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the test uses antibodies to capture bacterial cells in very thin capillaries within a plastic strip, detecting and identifying the cells optically rather than through the microbiological methods currently used.

Dr Nuno Reis, from Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering, led the development of the test. He says: “The test is small and portable – so it has major potential for use in primary care settings and in developing countries.

“Currently, bacterial infections in UTIs are confirmed via microbiological testing of a urine sample. That is accurate, but time-consuming, taking several days. We hope that giving medical professionals the ability to quickly rule in or rule out certain conditions will allow them to treat patients more quickly and help them make better decisions about the prescription of antibiotics.”

The lack of rapid diagnostics for UTIs has in many cases led to a catch-all prescription of potentially unnecessary antibiotics, which increases the risk of bacteria becoming resistant to treatment – accepted as one of the biggest threats to global health and development.

The test is carried out by passing a urine sample over a ridged plastic micro-capillary strip, containing an immobilising antibody able to recognise E. coli bacterial cells. If E. coli is present in the sample, antibodies in the reagents will bind with it, stopping it from passing through the section of plastic strip. Finally, an enzyme is added that causes a change in colour that can be picked up by a smartphone camera.

The system also measures the concentration of E. coli in the sample by analysing an image taken by the camera. The procedure is simple and could be manually operated or fully automated without any need for a mains power supply.

To date, bodies such as the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have not granted approval to techniques that use smartphones – citing the potential for both non-lab conditions and software updates to the phone to make tests unscientific. But Dr Reis hopes that the way the test uses a variable scale to digitally compare the pixels within an image will convince regulators to allow the treatment to move toward eventual production.

Dr Reis adds that wealthier nations could also benefit from adopting the methodology, as it could make testing within primary care facilities such as GP surgeries more viable, reducing the need to send samples to central labs for testing.

He says: “The UK and wealthy countries have seen a big shift to decentralised diagnostics to reduce the load on national or regional labs and provide doctors with important tools to make informed diagnoses.

“Driving more of this will bring better outcomes to patients in terms of speeding up the process, but will also lower the cost to healthcare providers. We are not talking about replacing centralised diagnostics services but providing the first point of contact with affordable and rapid tools to support prescription of antibiotics and avoid their overuse.”

The next step for the process is clinical trials, which will require collaboration with clinical and commercial partners. Beyond this, the team will shortly begin working on refining the test to allow for the detection of other bacteria and their concentrations, which will help prescribe correct dosages and avoid the overuse of antibiotics.

Published: 6th January 2020

Source: The Clinical Services Journal

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Smart Speakers Could Automatically Raise Alarm About People in Cardiac Arrest, Researchers Say

Smart Speakers Could Automatically Raise Alarm About People in Cardiac Arrest, Researchers Say

‘These devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,’ says scientist.

Digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa could soon be capable of alerting paramedics to a person in cardiac arrest, scientists believe.

Researchers have developed the prototype of an audio tool which can detect the irregular breathing of someone whose heart has stopped beating and automatically call emergency services.

The team developing the technology at the University of Washington said it could be built into smart speaker devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to potentially save lives.

About half of people suffering cardiac arrest gasp for air, a distinctive symptom known as agonal breathing. Immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation can double their chances of survival but requires a bystander to be present.

The researchers’ tool detected agonal breathing in 97 per cent of audio clips at a distance of up to 20 feet (six metres) away, according to a study published in the journal Digital Medicine.

“This kind of breathing happens when a patient experiences really low oxygen levels,” said study co-author Jacob Sunshine, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the university’s school of medicine. “It’s sort of a guttural gasping noise, and its uniqueness makes it a good audio biomarker to use to identify if someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest.”

Researchers gathered 162 clips of agonal breathing from real emergency calls to Seattle’s medical services. They extracted 2.5-second segments of audio from the files, recorded between 2009 and 2017, to create a total of 236 clips.

The team captured the recordings on three smart devices – Amazon Alexa, iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4 – and used various machine learning techniques to boost the dataset to 7,316 positive clips.

“A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of,” said study co-author Shyam Gollakota, an associate professor in the university’s school of computer science and engineering.

He added: “We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there’s no response, the device can automatically call 911.”

The devices were tested at different distances and alongside interfering sounds such as pets, traffic and air condition to simulate the home environment.

For the negative dataset, the team used 83 hours of audio collected during sleep studies, yielding 7,305 sound samples. These clips contained typical noises that people make in their sleep, such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.

The algorithm incorrectly categorised a breathing sound as agonal breathing 0.14 per cent of the time.

“We don’t want to alert either emergency services or loved ones unnecessarily, so it’s important that we reduce our false positive rate,” said doctoral student Justin Chan, who worked on the study.

Researchers envision the tool could function run passively on a smart speaker or smartphone while people sleep. They said no data would need to be stored or sent to the cloud as the algorithm would be running in real time.

The team is planning to commercialise the technology through a University of Washington spinout company, Sound Life Sciences.

“Cardiac arrests are a very common way for people to die, and right now many of them can go unwitnessed,” Dr Sunshine said. “Part of what makes this technology so compelling is that it could help us catch more patients in time for them to be treated.”

Ashleigh Li, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s always great to see advances in technology targeted at improving the survival rates from devastating heart conditions like a cardiac arrest. However, it’s still early days for this research.

“Alongside administering CPR, the early use of a defibrillator before the ambulance services arrive can more than double the chance of survival. This is why knowing how to perform CPR and having defibrillators available to the public in moments of need is essential.”

Published: 19th June 2019

Source: Independent

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