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Researcher wins series of awards for new healthcare technology


PhD student Salman Abdullah has won a series of awards for his healthcare technology.

A PhD student is celebrating after winning three prestigious awards for his research project, a hi-tech walking stick for patients with affected limbs that provides real-time feedback to healthcare professionals.

Award-winning healthcare research

Salman Abdullah, based in the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, has won the HARS Santander Scholarship, Research4Industry contest and STEAM Santander Pitch event in a short space of time.

All of the above accolades have been awarded on the strength of Salman’s research, a biofeedback walking stick to aid both patient recovery and healthcare professionals.

“It allows the allied health professionals to remotely monitor patient recovery, evaluate the rehabilitation intervention prescribed for the patient, and iterate the treatment plan,” Salman explains.

“Such a system would reduce the number of times a patient might have to visit therapists and would have an impact on overall NHS resources.”

Salman’s research has won him awards in the past, and he believes his research resonates due to the potentially life-changing outcomes it can foster.

“My research has a potential solution to narrow down barriers between the patient and the allied health professional by improving the mobility of such patients and thereby their quality of life.”

Beating tough competition

Firstly, Salman secured the HARS Santander Scholarship, which is awarded to students who demonstrate industry-academic cooperation in a multidisciplinary subject.

“I had to demonstrate to the panel, the hard work I have been undertaking over the past year,” Salman explains, “and show I had taken a multi-disciplinary (STEAM) approach for my research project.”

Salman then proved successful once again when he entered, and subsequently won, the Research4Industry contest. His victory came despite only entering the competition at the last minute.

“I came to know about this contest just before the deadline,” Salman explains.

“After submitting the application, the final 13 candidates were shortlisted for the event, where they have to ‘pitch’ their research project in just five minutes followed by a tough Q & A from the judging panel.

“I was competing against an elite bunch of academics, and summarising two-to-three years of work in five minutes was quite challenging.

“I was over the moon when I heard I’d won. My parents and my wife were so emotional and my phone was just ringing continuously because of my friends and family members to congratulate me.”

Valuable benefits to valuable research

After securing a further £1,500 for his Research4Industry victory, Salman then looked to make it a trio of victories by taking part in the Santander STEAM Pitch Event.

The event saw the winners of Birmingham City University’s InnovationFest deliver pitches to a judging panel consisting of industry experts, including the NHS England’s Programme Director for the Future Services Portfolio.

Salman’s research once again proved successful, seeing him secure a £4,000 incubation fund, 12 months of desk space at Birmingham maker space STEAMhouse and mentoring support.

Salman believes such valuable benefits, as well as his winnings from the other two competitions, will help him accelerate his research project.

“These benefits will surely help me to enhance my research as I plan to use these funds to further develop the prototype,” Salman says.

“Moreover, the mentoring support I will receive from STEAMhouse will play a pivotal role in enhancing the business aspects of the project.”