Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering



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The ANIMATE project - Wearable neuroimaging technologies for the study infant motor development

Newborn infants vulnerable to brain injury and often go on to develop cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that can severely limit the control of the muscles, and can have a devastating impact on quality of life. Cerebral palsy is also the most common form of childhood disability in Europe and every year, approximately 1800 children in the UK are diagnosed with the condition. The early diagnosis of cerebral palsy is critical. While there is no cure for the condition, there are a number of treatments that can improve an infant's long-term motor ability. At present, the majority of infants with cerebral palsy are not diagnosed until 1 or 2 years-of-age. By this point it is likely too late for treatment to have the best possible impact. If infants with abnormal motor development could be identified early, these treatments would have the greatest chance of success. We think brain imaging can help understand and diagnose cerebral palsy. However, no current functional imaging available with the necessary precision, resolution, patient comfort, and motion tolerance.

The ANIMATE project is funded by the EPSRC and aims to develop a new wearable functional brain imaging technology to investigate the emergence of cerebral palsy in infants at the cot-side. The project is based at DOT-HUB, UCL and neoLAB, but depends upon critical collaborations with Prof. John Suckling (Cambridge University), Dr. Tom Arichi (Kings College London), Dr. Betty Hutchon (The Royal Free), Prof. Frances Cowan (Imperial College London) and industrial partners Gowerlabs.

Current research on this project involves many members of DOT-HUB, including Dr. Hubin Zhao, Elisabetta Maria Frijia and Liam Collins-Jones