Tech for diagnosing spinal injuries scoops clinical innovation award

9 Dec 2022

Prof Seamus Morris receiving the award for overall winner of the Clinical Innovation Awards 2022. Presented by Dr Steven Griffin, Health Innovation Hub Ireland. Image: Maxwell Photography

The inaugural Clinical Innovation Awards saw four Irish healthcare teams awarded €15,000 each for their tech inventions aimed at improving patient outcomes.

A consultant orthopaedic spine surgeon based at the National Spinal Injuries Unit in Dublin has won the top award at the Clinical Innovation Awards. Prof Seamus Morris scooped the overall win with his invention, Mint.

The technology aims to overhaul the treatment of neural compression, a condition that is difficult to diagnose and can cause long-term incontinence and paralysis if surgical intervention is not carried out on time.

Morris’ tool Mint uses advanced machine learning algorithms to improve neurophysiological testing, which is used in the diagnosis of spinal cord and peripheral nerve function problems.

Neurophysiological testing can directly measure neural electrical activity. However, access to this diagnostic method is limited and it requires highly skilled personnel to interpret the recorded waveforms.

Mint derives its name from the term ‘machine learning and AI in neurophysiological testing’. Its algorithms can interpret wave patterns in neurophysiological testing, providing an on-demand assessment that can be read by a wider set of healthcare professionals.

According to Morris, the tech’s potential to aid early intervention in spinal injuries “can be crucial, as timely diagnosis and surgical decompression are essential for preventing long-term incontinence and paralysis”.

“We believe MINT has the potential to revolutionise neurophysiological testing and improve patient outcomes.”

Morris and his team were the first-ever overall winners of the Clinical Innovation Awards, which are in their inaugural year.

They were hosted by Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) in association with Enterprise Ireland. The aim of the awards is to support healthcare professionals to explore the commercial feasibility of their ideas.

As well as Morris, three other winners and their inventions were awarded prizes. Each of the four winning projects received €15,000 from Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Feasibility Fund.

Prof Derek O’Keeffe and his team at University of Galway scooped an award for Hap-Nav, a haptic navigation device that uses AI and ultrasound ranging to help people with vision impairment navigate their environment.

Bryan Griffin and a team in St James’s Hospital also received €15,000 for Scope Motion, an endoscopy smart trolley.

A team from Cork University Maternity Hospital and University Hospital Waterford won an award for their invention, PremSmart 2.0: a data-driven digital tool for optimising nutritional care for preterm infants.

Commenting on the inaugural awards HIHI’s Dr Steven Griffin said: “At the Health Innovation Hub Ireland, we recognise the critical role that clinical innovation plays in addressing unmet needs for patients and healthcare professionals.”

Griffin added that that he hoped the finalists and winners would be able to bring their ideas to market in Ireland and beyond to help “transform the way medical care is delivered around the world”.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com