NIHR SRMRC innovative ICU study completes clinical investigation

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In May 2018 an NIHR SRMRC funded feasibility study of the use of a novel interactive technology-based communication device, ICU-CHAT, completed after recruiting 11 patients. ICU-CHAT has been developed to enhance tracheostomy patients’ ability to communicate while on the ICU.

Through the use of facial gestures, ICU-CHAT enables the user to control an on-screen cursor with their head movement, selecting phrases with vocal output. Via a multidisciplinary approach, the suitability of the system components were developed to ensure safety, practicality and low cost for ICU use. A human-centred design process and rigorous bench testing followed.

The clinical investigation of the device, supported by the NIHR SRMRC trial management/delivery team, ran from December 2017 to May 2018. The mixed-methods trial design collected quantitative data on usage and performance alongside qualitative appraisal to explore user experiences.

The concept for this device was originally conceived by a former ICU patient and his wife, Duncan and Lisa-Marie Buckley. Drawing on their own experiences and working with the critical care patient and public involvement (PPI) group, Duncan and Lisa developed a concept demonstrator for ICU- CHAT. For this work, Duncan and Lisa were embedded within the multidisciplinary ICU research team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), supported by the Human Interface Technologies team from the University of Birmingham, and funded by the NIHR SRMRC. Duncan and Lisa-Marie were awarded the Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Award at the Clinical Research Network West Midlands 2017 Awards for their work on this device.

Clinically this study has been led by Fiona Howroyd (Senior Physiotherapist at QEHB), Ruth Capewell (Senior Speech and Language Therapist at QEHB), Dr Charlotte Small (Specialty Trainee in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine; Clinical Research Fellow with the SRMRC) and Dr Catherine Snelson (Clinical Service Lead for Critical Care at QEHB; key Principal Investigator on several trials run in the SRMRC).

To date, this work has been reported by Fiona in:

Howroyd F. Supporting the patient innovator. ICU Management & Practice, Volume 18 – Issue 1, Spring 2018

The results of this study hope to inform the future prototype development of the ICU CHAT device, by using the valuable feedback from patients, their relatives and staff. In addition, they will inform a larger study and trial of the device.

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