Blog: “Opportunities in MedTech Innovation: Neurological Conditions”

On 9th July, Devices for Dignity, in partnership with Medilink East Midlands, hosted the first in a series of webinars focusing on the core clinical themes that drive D4D activity. The first theme under the spotlight was Neurological Conditions – exploring the burden of neurological disease, highlighting where technology could make a difference, and considering design from the user perspective – particularly “the good, the bad, and what could be better?”

Whilst lived experience will vary from person to person, the impact of a neurological condition diagnosis on individuals, their families and carers is significant, affecting physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing:

  • People with neurological conditions have the lowest health related quality of life of any long-term condition (NHS England, 2019)
  • 3 out of 5 people feel lonely as a result of their MS(MS Society, MyNeeds survey 2019)
  • A third of stroke survivors suffer depression after suffering a stroke (Stroke Association, 2018)
  • When considering impact on daily living activities, 42% of those surveyed were affected to a great extent, and 36% affected to a moderate extent (Neurological Alliance, Patient Experience Survey 2019)

For the 16.5 million people living with a neurological condition in England, the effects of COVID-19 are reported to have been extensive and anticipated to continue to impact this community – through reduced access to routine care, specialist rehabilitation & outpatients appointments; reluctance to seek urgent & emergency care due to risk; diminished carer resilience; and the psychological impact of social isolation – presenting many challenges for individuals and the health and care system.

As a catalyst for technology development built upon co-design foundations, Devices for Dignity are working with our expert networks, comprising people with lived experience and their families, carers, health professionals, academics, charities and industry, to drive new technology development collaborations to respond to these challenges.

During the webinar, we asked “where could technology be a part of the solution?” and – in a post-COVID world where the need to move at speed has opened up the door for many digital solutions – “do we need to pause and think about who we are designing services for? Are we designing with accessibility in mind?”

The webinar, led by Prof Chris McDermott, was an opportunity to advance discussions on the role of technology for different kinds of neurological conditions (sudden onset such as stroke, intermittent e.g. epilepsy or progressive conditions (Parkinson’s or MND)), and explore where differences and commonalities exist for potential applications to support:

  • interaction with the health & care system & self-management of health,
  • daily living activities,
  • and wellbeing e.g. hobbies, travel and life fulfilment.

Webinar panellists, Pamela Goff and Philip Morris, shared their lived experience and urged technology developers to engage with end users early in the product development process and for those end users to be empowered to use their wealth of experience as “the voice of common sense”. They also emphasised the market pull for product personalisation and repurposing of technology in response to diversity of needs, lifestyles and situations.

To find out more about the discussion, the webinar slides can be accessed here.   D4D Webinar FINAL

To join the conversation and explore technology collaborations with Devices for Dignity, our collaborator portal can be found here.