Healthy games for kids and virtual reality for amputees - meet finalists of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Digital Health Award

Great Ormond Street Hospital's (GOSH) new app called ‘Blood Quest’ is helping to alleviate young people’s anxiety over blood tests and has reached the finals of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards.

Blood Quest uses creative animal games (see image below) which explore the workings of the heart to entertain and distract children when blood is being taken.

It was developed in response to nursing staff working on the children’s cancer wards at GOSH, where patients often need multiple blood tests during treatment.

Cartoon still image of animals on GSOH game

The app features a ‘quest’ game with different levels to complete. Game levels last the length of an average blood test.

A research team at the hospital developed the application in collaboration with the hospital’s art programme, GOSH Arts.

The creation is one of 32 finalists in the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards in association with BT (finalists pictured below). Blood Quest is one of four finalists in the health category. There are eight categories in total across the competition, including the AbilityNet Accessibility Award and the BT Connected Society Award.

C the Signs - early cancer diagnosis tool

Also in the AbilityNet Tech4Good Digital Health Award category is C the Signs, a tool which aims to help early cancer diagnosis.

Diagnosing cancer is extremely challenging. Unlike other diseases, there is no single identifiable symptom or test that can alert doctors to a potential cancer diagnosis. Cancer is a collection of signs, symptoms and risk factors, which often overlap with many other long-term diseases, says co-founder Dr Bhavagaya Bakshi, one of the two doctors responsible for the new health technology start-up.

pic of 32 finalists at tech4good finals in BT Tower

The innovation is a decision support tool, available on iOS, android and as a website. It uses artificial intelligence, combined with national evidence-based guidelines, to help GPs identify patients with cancer early.

Using primary care data and evidence, their support tool can spot other less obvious signs and symptoms that feature in the early stage of cancers.

Making physio fun: Fizzyo

Thirdly, we have Fizzyo, a clever way of spelling physio! A few years ago Vicky Coxhead was very tired of forcing her young sons to go to physiotherapy to help with their cystic fibrosis when their friends were having fun playing games. But she was also aware that regular physiotherapy is essential to keep infections at bay and prolong life for people with cystic fibrosis.

Spotting an advert for a new BBC2 documentary Big Life Big Fix asking for families with a problems to get in touch, she sent a request and was introduced to Haiyan Zhang, innovation director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge.

Together with creative technologist Greg Saul and a growing team they created a device that could take the boys’ breaths and turn them into controls for a video game.

Hackathons followed where volunteer designers and engineers from across the UK came along to make new video game experiences for the boys and others in the same situation.

Virtual reality to support amputees' rehabilitation

Completing the section is an entry from Sheffield Hallam University.

Using technology first developed for virtual reality gaming, Ivan Phelan, associate researcher working in gaming development and his team, are currently working on a project to support amputees prepare to use prosthetic limbs.

The new tech is helping designers create faster and more accurate real-life prosthetics.

The researcher has been involved in this area for the last ten years: “I really like the idea of using gaming technologies in a clinical setting and how it has the potential to make rehabilitation more engaging and even speed up recovery time,” says Phelan.

During trials, researchers placed a special armband, called a Myo, around peoples’ stumps. Once immersed in the virtual world, amputees can see the prosthetic limbs and are asked to do different everyday tasks in a kitchen, from turning on taps to slicing up food.

By using this new technology, researchers are able to see how these electronic limbs will work in real life, improve how it looks, how its grip function works and reduce the costs involved in getting equipment working more efficiently with fewer attempts.