I am a PhD student at the University of Chester studying the medical applications of augmented reality, the same technology that is used in Pokémon GO. Previously, I studied computer science at Bangor University in North Wales, completing an internship researching virtual environments and haptics in medical applications. As part of the internship I worked with the National Institute of Social and Health Care Research (NISHCR) at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales.
Attending the Posture and Mobility Group (PMG) Conference opened my eyes to a world I never thought I would be involved in: posture support, assistive devices and seat pressure regulation are all foreign concepts to me. These areas, and more, exposed me to different and varied research topics. It was fascinating to learn about the shoulder forces exerted when pushing a manual wheelchair and the best technique for using a manual wheelchair; how there is an ongoing battle against pressure ulcers and how the Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Intervention Service (PUPIS) is working to combat this issue.
One thing that helped me enjoy this conference so much was the friends that I made during the event. From meeting new people and discussing projects at the opening Caribbean night, helping the camera crew during the conference, to the gala dinner and after-party, it was fun to talk to others about their experiences in their own profession.
Even though this field is new to me, there were some presentations that felt a little closer to home. The talk given by Samuel Esson about how 3D printing can be used to prototype parts for assistive technologies, e.g. specialised mounts or control panels, was of particular interest, as I have used a 3D printer and am therefore interested in its applications in different areas.
The exhibition was a good opportunity to look at some of the companies and charities involved in the posture and mobility field, and it was very interesting to see the new and emerging technologies on display. For example, Consolor showed their work on using 3D visualisation with other technologies to model and design bespoke seating solutions.
This was my first conference as a PhD student, as well as my first paper presentation, so it was a good experience of how conferences work, the general scheduling of the events and the activities that are put on as part of the proceedings. Seeing the conference platform for the first time was simultaneously exciting and daunting because it was a vast stage with a much larger arena. Nerves were definitely not helped knowing I was also being recorded for a webcast! Photo above of Thomas Day presenting his first conference paper, 20th July 2016 at the International Convention Centre, Birmingham. Photograph courtesy of Suzie Hunt.
As my PhD progresses and the projects I am involved with continue to develop, I look forward to seeing some of the advancements that come from both my own field and the different areas of posture and mobility. I also wish everyone from the conference, and the friends I made, all the best in their future pursuits!