During the COVID-19 outbreak, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation advocated the wearing of masks or face coverings to reduce transmission of the virus. The increasing adoption of masks presents challenges for people with hearing impairment, or those with difficulties understanding spoken language.
The Clinical Engineering Innovation (CEI) Team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge was initially approached by a member of nursing staff who is hard of hearing, so a project was implemented to create the Panoramic facemask™ that would allow lip-reading and better visibility of facial expression and non-verbal cues, with equivalent filtration performance as a standard mask. This need was also supported as a national project by the Chief Scientific Officer for England’s office. Research and stakeholder consultation carried out by CEI indicated that the need to wear masks is also preventing several clinical investigations, interventions and treatments requiring a clear “line of sight” to the mouth, lips, tongue and teeth.
To date, CEI has developed several prototypes that will address these concerns, allowing more of the face to be visible, potentially allowing for the resumption of interventions requiring the modelling of oral and facial postures such as treatment for dyspraxia and dysphagia. The prototypes have been tested and developed alongside representatives from a range of staff and patient groups, and we have now settled on two overall designs which fit the needs of our hospital. CEI are conducting production trials with manufacturing partners and are progressing to standardised testing against the requirements for Type IIR surgical masks. CEI have utilised part of their NIHR Brain Injury MIC to fund prototype development, and plan to utilise the rest on lab testing to test the efficacy of certain elements of the design.
A website to find out everything you need to know about COVID-19!
The NIHR is also supporting a new website by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) called Coronavirus: the science explained, which lays out the evidence and the facts about the virus, the disease, the epidemic and its control. Topics are divided in four main themes and you will find out about the course of infection and disease, how the virus spreads through the populations and who is at risk and why, the latest progress made in diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines and all about the control measures such as quarantine and social distancing.
Visit the page: coronavirusexplained.ukri.org