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Scientist wins international prize for artificial limb research

Friday 1 September 2017

A RESEARCH scientist who is carrying out pioneering work on artificial limbs to help amputees has won a prestigious international competition.

University of Salford PhD student Alix Chadwell won first prize for her presentation at the Myoelectric Controls Symposium, which takes place every three years in Canada.

The conference, hosted by the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Brunswick, brings together international specialists working in the field of upper limb prosthetics and myoelectric control – an advanced technique for using the body’s own electrical signals to control externally powered artificial limbs.

Alix, a medical engineering graduate from the University of Bath, is researching why it is that some users of myoelectric prostheses can find their devices difficult to control.

She has developed a portable system allowing her to assess users outside of the laboratory and has begun measuring how well they can control the required muscle signals, how reliably the electrodes can collect these signals, delays in the prosthesis, overall user functionality and patterns of prosthesis use in everyday life.

Alix, who has received funding from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and Santander, won the award for her paper on a new approach to visualising the upper limb activity in myoelectric prosthesis users.

Earlier this year, she presented her work at the House of Commons during a special event organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, together with the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics and the Society of Biology.

Along with Computer Science graduate Sun Mingxu – who is conducting work on stroke patients –   she presented her research at the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM for Britain event in March.

Alix said: “My interest in the design of prostheses brought me to Salford in 2014 and I am very glad I made that decision. Having previously trained as an engineer, my highlight has been working alongside colleagues from both technical and clinical backgrounds, which I believe is key to developing solutions which are clinically applicable.

“I have found my supervisory team and the wider research group to be extremely supportive and my knowledge and interest in the field has expanded significantly. I am delighted to have had my work recognised by international specialists at this prestigious conference and I look forward to seeing where it will take me next.”

Laurence Kenney, Professor of Rehabilitation Technologies at the University of Salford, said: “Alix’s selection to win this important international prize demonstrates not only the outstanding quality of her research but the excellent support we provide to early career researchers at the University of Salford. Her work is genuinely exciting and will go on to make a real impact on many people’s lives.”