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IMAGES: BIoMechanics And imaGing research for matErnal health and neonateS

Since 2017 we have been working on several ground-breaking and highly trans-disciplinary projects, in the area of pregnancy, childbirth, and neonatal care.

Using biomechanics, thermal imaging and other innovative applications, we are aiming to improve maternal, fetal and neonatal wellbeing and promote health-oriented (salutogenic) practices, while facilitating the economic sustainability of maternity and neonatal services and advancing the training and the education of the future and current health professionals.

We are working closely with businesses, public and third-sector organisations (e.g. NGOs, community groups), to exchange knowledge, understand the end-users needs, and provide solutions, in order to improve the quality of care, and maternal and neonatal wellbeing. In addition, stakeholder and/or Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) are key parts of all our projects and our outputs are user-inspired.

Expertise and subject areas

Thermal Imaging Applications 

Antenatal and Intrapartum Care

Postnatal and Neonatal Care

  • Breastfeeding: Understanding the physiological parameters of breastfeeding in the maternal-infant dyad and the personalised function of lactation through a novel non-invasive approach and a combination of complex data analysis
  • Neonatal Care: Continuous monitoring and detection of infections/inflammations. Solutions for clinical and community-based settings

Biomechancs of Pregnancy and Childbirth

  • Development of a novel 3D motion tracking system
  • Investigation of static and dynamic biomechanical changes/adaptations during labour
  • Investigation of maternal/fetal heat exchange
Figure 1: The STAR-Mat TRL6 prototype
Figure 1: The STAR-Mat TRL6 prototype

Immersive and Innovative Technologies

(WE-PPLuS): WEarable technologies for Positive Pregnancy LifestyleS

  • We-PPLUs project aims to integrate the socio-cultural and public health benefits of local women’s groups with the diagnostic and data-generating capacity of sustainably powered monitoring technology. In collaboration with our business partners we are testing and developing a simple to use monitoring system that can collect several biomarkers, to monitor pregnant women’s health status and facilitate their wellbeing through a personalised approach.
  • The project (funded by the QR-Global Challenges Research Fund) is a collaboration between UCLan, Rinicare Ltd (UK business partner), Fernandez Hospital ‘Health Care for Women & Newborn’ – Hyderabad India, and two Bangalore NGOs (India): the Bangalore Birth Network (BBN) and the Society for People’s Action and Development (SPAD) (Fig 2).

Virtual Midwifery Birth Centre (VMBC)

  • Immersive technologies offer new and innovative ways in which to train midwives and enhance relational care practices. Utilising virtual reality (VR), midwives are immersed into virtual environments to engage with practices and scenarios that may be difficult to stimulate using conventional training methods. After a successful evaluation of VR training in the UK (Fig 3), this approach is now being delivered as part of an international collaboration via the Virtual Midwifery Birth Centre (VMBC).

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Dr Anastasia Topalidou Research Fellow - Biomechanics of Pregnancy and Childbirth, and Thermal Imaging – Level 1 Certified Thermographer atopalidou@uclan.ac.uk

Professor Soo Downe Professor in Midwifery Studies, Co-director for THRIVE Centre, Head of Research in Childbirth and Health (ReaCH) research unit
sdowne@uclan.ac.uk

Professor Bogdan Matuszewski Head of Computer Vision and Machine Learning (CVML) Research Group, Deputy head of the UCLan Research Centre in Engineering bmatuszewski1@uclan.ac.uk

Professor Gill Thomson Professor in Perinatal Health, Head of Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture (MAINN) research unit, Deputy Head of Research for School of Community Health and Midwifery gthomson@uclan.ac.uk

Dr Stephanie Heys Consultant Midwife at The North West Ambulance Service / Honorary Clinical Reader in Maternity at UCLan 
sheys1@uclan.ac.uk

Dr Anna Byrom MSc Midwifery Course Leader, Senior Lecturer AByrom@uclan.ac.uk

Partners

The IMAGES team has well-established links and well-structured national and international partnership. 

Supported by