Sheffield University students help Parkinson’s sufferers

Students from University of Sheffield have been making products to help people who suffer from Parkinson's. The winning team, the Medical Innovations Company (from left to right), Jack Forrester, Luke Cowling, Niall Chester, Mathew Biddlestone, Tom Collier and Sam Melvin.
Students from University of Sheffield have been making products to help people who suffer from Parkinson's. The winning team, the Medical Innovations Company (from left to right), Jack Forrester, Luke Cowling, Niall Chester, Mathew Biddlestone, Tom Collier and Sam Melvin.
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Students have been given the chance to use their ideas to help people with Parkinson’s, as part of their engineering degree.

Working in teams, the University of Sheffield students were challenged to put engineering theory into practice by identifying a technical solution for a Parkinson’s sufferer in Sheffield and developing a business proposition.

Ged Taylor, a sufferer from Sheffield, was diagnosed ten years ago and as his condition has progressed he has found day-to-day tasks, such as feeding himself, getting in and out of cars, putting his coat on and fastening his clothes, much harder to undertake.

The students met with Ged to understand the problems he faces, as well as others living with the disease.

The teams then conducted market research and testing to make sure that any ideas and products they presented could become a reality with business potential.

Ideas included an aid to help people connect their seatbelt, and easy to open wallets which allowed a person to easily pick up coins.

Their prototypes were presented to Ged and his family, as well as Pamela Goff, Chair of the Parkinson’s UK branch in Sheffield, and industry representatives from engineering company, Gripple, and disability solution company, Kingkraft.

The winning team was the Medical Innovations Company (MIC), made up of fourth year MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering students, who created an audio amplifier which allows Ged’s quiet voice to be heard by friends and family.

The judges were impressed by their working prototype as well as their plans to expand as a business.

Ged said: “It was really interesting to see the solutions the students had come up with. My quiet voice often means I can’t be heard so the solution created by team MIC will really help me communicate with my friends and family.”

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition which affects 127,000 people in the UK.