Service Communautaire d'Information sur la Recherche et le Développement - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - WARTHE (Wide area research training in health engineering)

The WARTHE project achieved a significant step towards structured, multidisciplinary early research stage training in the field of health engineering, in particular in eHealth, medical imaging, biomedical engineering, medical robotics, biomechanics and ambient intelligence as applied to prevention, continuous monitoring and care of patients.

WARTHE succeeded in mastering the complexity of the training by optimally forming nine PhD students from eight countries hosted by three renowned university centres from Belfast, Lyon and Prague. This approach resulted in a cross-fertilisation between the many areas involved in the field.

WARTHE provided its young fellows with the chance to carry out innovative research work and advance their studies in ways that would not have been possible without this experience. Each PhD student was co-supervised and stayed about eight months in a different host organisation. The programme succeeded in developing skills in team work, communication and working in an international context. The work was organised into projects that provided the fellows with an experience which would enable them to lead future projects. The project led to over 34 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and proceedings and to several oral and poster presentations in major international conferences.

In several cases, the new research results achieved by individual fellows turned out to be quite important. In the minimally invasive robot assisted surgery domain, one of the fellows developed a robust, three-dimensional ultrasound based shape analysis method for localising miniature surgical tools like electrodes or needles to highlight the position of the tools on real time ultrasound images during operations like breast biopsy, laparoscopy, etc. Another fellow used a heart model to virtually cancel the heart motion and synchronise the robotic instruments as well as the view of the surgical scene with the movement of the heart in a way that the surgeon would be able to operate on the beating heart as he would do on an arrested heart. In the cardiology domain, a fellow developed a new methodology for designing web services based eHealth information systems to assist citizens to select the most suitable, personalised wearable cardiac sensor system and to record themselves reliable, professional quality electrocardiograms, anywhere and anytime, for the early detection of cardiac events. Another fellow developed hybrid point of care interdigits micro sensors to be used in pre-hospital settings and emergency departments in order to more accurately assess patients with chest pain and monitor cardiac markers as soon as possible after a heart attack. In the ambient assisted living domain, a fellow developed a method for augmenting the possibilities of video camera sensors in order to recognise and distinguish different tasks performed by different people, track the daily activity of Alzheimer or Parkinson patients and early detect or quantitatively assess the prevalence of aberrant behaviours such as repetitious walks or tremors. Another fellow developed methods and models to control a wearable robotic device attached to the human arm in order to facilitate and accelerate the training and the recovery of the shoulder and the elbow joints of weak and injured people with disabled upper limbs.

In the therapy domain, a fellow developed a patient specific respiratory thorax motion model that would be coupled with a four-dimensional computerized tomography imaging system to dynamically control the radiotherapy dose administered to patients treated for lung cancer. Another fellow developed a 'smart bandage' that was capable of real time in situ monitoring of the stage of healing of the wounds and of dynamically adjusting optimally targeted electrotherapy stimulation patterns. A third fellow developed a continuous monitoring system based on a flexible pressure sensor device for the early detection and prevention of pressure ulcers.

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