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WMG News

New MRI computing technique can spot scar muscles of heart without damaging kidneys

Jayendra Bhalodiya- Traditional MRI scans use the metal gadolinium, which resonates areas of the heart muscles that are not functioning efficiently, however gadolinium affect the Kidney function

- The new 3D MRI computing technique calculates strain in heart muscles showing which muscles are not functioning enough without damaging other organs - researchers at WMG, University of Warwick have found

- The new technique is less stressful for the patient

3D MRI computing can measure strain in the heart using image registration method. Traditional method involves giving the patient a dose of gadolinium which can affect the kidney, researchers at WMG, University of Warwick have found.

MRIs are used to diagnose cardiac disease such as cardiomyopathy, heart attacks, irregular heartbeats and other heart disease.

Traditionally when a patient goes for an MRI scan they are given a dose of gadolinium, which reacts the magnetic field of the scanner to produce an image of the protons in the metal realigning with the magnetic field. The faster the protons realign, the brighter the image features and can show where the dead muscles are in the heart and what the diagnosis is.

The dose of gadolinium can have detrimental effects to other parts of the body, particularly the risk of kidney failure.

A new 3D MRI computing technique developed by scientists in WMG at the University of Warwick, published today, 28th August, in the Journal Scientific Reports titled ‘Hierarchical Template Matching for 3D Myocardial Tracking and Cardiac Strain Estimation’ focuses on Hierarchical Template Matching (HTM) technique. Which involves:

- A numerically stable technique of LV myocardial tracking

- A 3D extension of local weighted mean function to transform MRI pixels

- A 3D extension of Hierarchical Template Matching model for myocardial tracking problems

Therefore meaning there is no need for gadolinium reducing the risk of damage to other organs.

Professor Mark Williams, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments:

“Using 3D MRI computing technique we can see in more depth what is happening to the heart, more precisely to each heart muscles, and diagnose any issues such as remodelling of heart that causes heart failure. The new method avoids the risk of damaging the kidney opposite to what traditional methods do by using gadolinium.”

Jayendra Bhalodiya, who conducted the research from WMG, University of Warwick adds:

“This new MRI technique also takes away stress from the patient, as during an MRI the patient must be very still in a very enclosed environment meaning some people suffer from claustrophobia and have to stop the scan, often when they do this they have to administer another dose of the damaging gadolinium and start again. This technique doesn’t require a dosage of anything, as it tracks the heart naturally.”


Unfit people are more physically active because of the Sweatcoin app that pays you to walk

More people are physically active due to the Sweatcoin app which rewards you for walking – researchers at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG at the University of Warwick have found. Sweatcoin gets people outdoors and walking to earn a virtual currency to spend in their marketplace.

Reaching your target number of steps a day is a little easier for those using the app called Sweatcoin which rewards users with a virtual currency for walking.

Sweatcoin works by converting the number of steps recorded on your phone into a virtual currency of Sweatcoins.

Every 1,000 steps generate 0.95 Sweatcoins and these can be used to purchase products on the in-app marketplace, (with prices ranging from 5 to 20,000 Sweatcoins), in local shops, or be transferred between other users.

Currently, steps recorded outdoors are rewarded due to the use of a GPS-based verification algorithm used to stop people cheating their phone’s step-counting algorithm.

The Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG at the University of Warwick analysed daily step count data from 6000 users of the app, and found that there was a sustained average increase of nearly 20% in daily step count over a 6-month period after users had registered with the app, in comparison with a 3-month period prior to downloading the app.

Following a survey on a sample of the original 6000 users, those who were classified as less physically active and overweight were found to be most likely to increase their daily step count when using the app, meaning that Sweatcoin was having impact on an important section of the population who previously had low levels of physical activity.

Dr Mark ElliotDr Mark Elliott, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG - University of Warwick comments:

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Sweatcoin and investigate how their app impacts on physical activity behaviour change. By analysing the daily step count data from a sample of Sweatcoin users and combining this with data from the surveys and focus groups facilitated by our researchers, we were able to identify which types of user had shown the biggest change in terms of increased physical activity from using the app.”

Anton Derlyatka co-founder at Sweatcoin comments:

"Incentivising people to walk more is key to improving levels of sustained physical activity. Yet, traditional ideas such as providing educational seminars or discounted gym passes, just don’t deliver. The University of Warwick found that an economy built on movement, as created by Sweatcoin, establishes sustained motivation for people to be more active. For an increasingly sedentary population facing an obesity and wellness crisis, these are significant findings.”

Lord Philip Hunt, Sweatcoin Advisory board member commented:

“Most health apps and initiatives tend to be aimed at those who are already active. Sweatcoin has huge potential in encouraging and incentivising non-active people to get walking. Given the health gains that can be achieved through increased physical activity, this is the kind of breakthrough we need to help motivate who can benefit most.”

 

 


New pelvis motion tracking technology to transform hip replacement decisions

A new pelvis motion tracking device developed by WMG, at the University of Warwick, can help detect flexible pelvises without numerous x-rays, to determine who will benefit from more advanced surgical planning before hip replacement surgery.

Mark Elliot 3Researchers at WMG’s Institute of Digital Healthcare and Professor Richard King, of University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire - and Honorary Professor at Warwick Medical School, have developed a small device that can be put at the bottom of your back to scan the movement of your pelvis prior to a hip replacement.


WMG research helps expand Sweatcoin capabilities

Researchers at our Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) have been working, with the health and fitness app Sweatcoin, to develop a new verification process that will now allow indoor steps to be tracked for the first time.

Sweatcoin monitors steps throughout the day, via an app downloaded to a smartphone. Users are rewarded with one Sweatcoin (SWC) per every 1,000 steps. The digital currency can then be redeemed for items including magazines, clothing, music downloads and even televisions.

Previously the app was only capable of tracking outdoor steps - a big disadvantage for those with active jobs indoors or even those using the gym.

The 12-month project, funded by Innovate UK, collected large amounts of data from the sensors built into smartphones in parallel with step-count data recorded using high accuracy activity monitors. Researchers on the project then used this data to create a new step-verification model to work in any environment, not just outdoors.


Pregnancy loss biobank to receive £1.2million in funding

Research to help identify women at risk of pregnancy complications is to receive a huge financial boost.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is to give The Tommy's Reproductive Health Biobank a grant of £1.2million.

The biobank will be the most significant collection of reproductive health tissues in the UK. Operating on a virtual basis with its server based at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) and will begin operating on 29 September. It will store biological samples collected by scientists and clinicians at UHCW, the University of Warwick, University of Birmingham, Imperial College, Kings College London, University of Edinburgh and University of Manchester. The tissues, donated by women who have a history of pregnancy problems, and clinical data will help scientists find new causes and cures for miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature birth.


People are reluctant to use public defibrillators to treat cardiac arrests

A study led the University of Warwick suggests that people are reluctant to use public access defibrillators to treat cardiac arrests.

The analysis of existing international studies, which has been published in the European Heart Journal – Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes, suggests that there are a number of factors that prevent members of the public from using them and potentially saving lives.

The researchers’ study suggests that many members of the public don’t know what an automated external defibrillator (AED) is, where to find one and how to use one. This is despite AEDs being suitable for use by untrained members of the public. Although studies suggest there is variation across the studies they analysed in the number of people willing to use an AED a lack of confidence and fear of harm are common themes.

The research, Barriers and facilitators to public access defibrillation in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a systematic review, was conducted by Warwick Medical School, the University of Warwick; the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, the University of Warwick; Heart of England NHS Trust, Birmingham; London Ambulance Service NHS Trust and Imperial College Neurotrauma Centre, St Mary’s Hospital, London.


Researchers help digital currency users get more rewards for exercising

Researchers at the Institute of Digital Healthcare in WMG, University of Warwick have been awarded an Innovate UK grant to assist Sweatco Ltd to further develop their app for users to earn more rewards from a broader range of exercise activities.

Sweatcoin, a digital currency generated by physical movement captured on a smartphone, has been a huge success, having already converted more than 80 billion of its users’ physical steps into virtual coins in reward for their exercise (walking and running). For now, Sweatcoin’s proprietary algorithm verifies outdoor movement using a number of other sensors, including GPS, to prevent potential ‘gaming of the system’.

The company now wants to expand the app to allow users to earn digital currency while cycling and when inside buildings, including activities such as running on a treadmill or simply walking around whilst at work. With the help of an Innovate UK grant, they are working with researchers in the Institute of Digital Healthcare in WMG at the University of Warwick to develop a solution, while blocking any methods to cheat through the use of computer validation techniques.