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22nd November 2011

PHD student creates life saving app

Former Royal Army Medical Corps officer has developed an iPhone and iPad app for burns victims

A former soldier has developed an app which could save the lives of burns victims, both in combat and in hospitals around the world.

Chris Seaton, formerly a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and now a PhD student studying Computer Science at The University of Manchester, created the iPhone and iPad application after seeing the horrific injuries burns caused to fellow soldiers.

Seaton, who carried out the research alongside Mr Rowan Pritchard Jones and Professor Paul McArthur, plastic surgeons at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust and academics at the University of Liverpool, won a £5,000 prize at the NHS North West Health Innovation and Education Cluster Excellence in Innovation Awards 2011 this month for his work on the app.

Critical to the chances of survival after a burns injury is taking on the correct amount of fluids. Traditionally, doctors will have to make a quick series of pen and paper calculations to assess the ideal amount.

The margin for error on doing this is high, and is also time consuming.

“For soldiers fighting on the front line, the traditional way of assessing burns victims is difficult; particularly when they’re underfire,” Mr Seaton told The Mancunion. The app – called Mersey Burns – allows for exact and rapid calculations.

On a touchscreen phone, the user simply colours in the sufferer’s burnt area on a computer model of a torso, adds in the person’s age and weight (estimated if not exactly known), and the precise amounts of fluids are instantly calculated.

Tests the research team carried out showed the iPhone app reduced errors made by pen and paper by a third.

Mr Seaton confirmed to The Mancuion that he and his fellow researchers intended to spend their £5,000 prize on legal costs as they look to make the app available on the App Store.

Chris Seaton was in the army for four years and was a captain in the army Medical core, and was keen to develop the research after seeing horrific burns injuries sustained by fellow soldiers.

He said that great things could be achieved if computer scientists like him collaborated with those in the medical profession.

“There is great possibility for creating really innovative technology by pairing up small touch screen devices with medicine,” he said.

“Even simple ideas can make a big difference and all it takes is a doctor getting together with a computer scientist to make it a reality.”

Joe Sandler Clarke

Joe Sandler Clarke

Joe Sandler Clarke is the head of student media at the University of Manchester. He was longlisted for Amnesty International’s Student Human Rights Reporter of the Year in 2012. He was a News Editor at The Mancunion in the year 2011-12

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