Simon Hamilton today announced a Northern Ireland-led international consortium has been awarded €3.6million (£2.7million) from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to improve care for stroke patients.
The project, entitled Mobile Assistance for Groups and Individuals in the Community (MAGIC), aims to discover innovative approaches to post-stroke care with a view to improving the independence of stroke survivors. It will use pre-commercial procurement to engage industry providers who will be required to compete through several phases of solution development and testing.
The Health Minister said: “In Northern Ireland there are 2,700 new stroke cases each year, and we have 35,000 stroke survivors living in the community. The numbers are such that there are inevitably significant challenges associated with consistently providing the high standard of rehabilitative therapy needed to help those who have sustained a stroke achieve the best possible long-term outcomes.
“The MAGIC project will enable us to work with other European regions and with industry to explore and develop innovative ways to empower patients post-stroke. It will allow us to find new approaches which will enable survivors of stroke to have a higher quality of life and reduce the need for long-term care.”
It is estimated that stroke costs Northern Ireland’s health and social care service almost £240million every year. Currently, around a third of stroke patients suffer a decline in health and wellbeing post-stroke and it is recognised that many require additional support to achieve their optimum level of recovery.
The MAGIC project is the first successful bid to have been made to the Horizon 2020 pre-commercial procurement fund in the UK and Ireland. The project, which will run until 2019, is being led by the HSC’s Business Services Organisation. Other Northern Ireland participants are the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency, Invest NI and Ulster University. The international partners are drawn from Ireland, Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg and Denmark.
The Minister continued: “This project has the potential to put Northern Ireland at the very forefront of stroke care in Europe. It is also possible that it will involve some Northern Ireland-based companies in product development, thereby providing a boost to our local economy.”
A team of researchers at Ulster University’s Computer Science Research Institute is playing a key role in the research. Professor Jonathan Wallace, of Ulster University said: "Ulster University has a long history of healthcare technology related research which has led to world-leading concepts and treatment options being used globally to improve patient care, including in stroke patients.
“Rehabilitation is a central component of any stroke patient’s recovery and long-term prognosis, but the health service faces increasing challenges with an ageing population so future care must be sustainable and reduce the burden on healthcare providers and families whilst prioritising recovery and quality of life. This research aims through a co-creation process to re-engineer the current approach to stroke patient rehabilitation and discover novel, highly effective rehabilitation technologies and techniques which will have a tangible impact on patient health. Ulster University is delighted to play such a key role in the consortium.”
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