Before joining the East Berkshire Specialist Mobility Team, I worked in the field of posture management and mobility services outside the UK. Being new to the country, and unfamiliar with some of the products here, I felt I would benefit from attending the PMG Conference 2017. And so it turned out….
Alongside the conference proceedings, the event also hosts a large industry exhibition, meaning I could familiarise myself with a huge range of products under one roof, and compare and evaluate them with the help of the companies’ exhibition staff who were on hand throughout.
Additionally, over the three days, I was able to explore solutions for some of our more complex cases with experts working within the UK and from around the world; it was fascinating to learn how a problem could potentially have multiple solutions, and be addressed differently by different practitioners.
Mobility technologies have developed enormously in recent years, and it was very interesting to hear the presentation by Chinemelu (Chi) Ezeh of University College London about the development of a so-called smart wheelchair; using sensors, the smart wheelchair will help wheelchair users avoid obstacles and self-correct the direction of the chair. I caught up with Chi during the break to find out more - for example about the range of sensors and the different settings for indoor/outdoor wheelchair use.
Then there was the research from the Oxford Centre for Enablement on the introduction of fans into seating systems with the aim of reducing heat. We regularly face the issue of heat build-up in carved foam seating and, although this can be dealt with by using other seating solutions, I was excited to hear about this potential new technology. Some of the companies are developing products with the same aim - e.g. a backrest which can be used as a cooler/heater. These new products could potentially aid with wound healing, because cooler temperatures may result in less sweating, thereby helping prevent one of the main contributing factors of pressure ulcers - moisture.
The PMG Conference 2017 was one of the best learning experiences I have had; it also inspired me to consider conducting my own research in future. I believe that my preparation beforehand definitely maximised my learning, and I would recommend that others do the same. I prepared well for all the topics I wanted to discuss, and came away with answers to the many questions I had!