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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X001016/1
Title: Guiding treatment for individuals with eating disorders and dementia using masticatory efficiency
Principal Investigator: Branley-Bell, Dr D
Other Investigators:
Ang, Dr C Matcham, Dr F Dawes, Professor H
Berthaume, Dr MA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Fac of Health and Life Sciences
Organisation: Northumbria, University of
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 August 2022 Ends: 31 January 2025 Value (£): 449,388
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomechanics & Rehabilitation Human-Computer Interactions
Image & Vision Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Oct 2021 Digital Health Sandpit Oct 2021 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Chewing efficiency, i.e. the ability to break foods down into smaller pieces, is directly linked to nutritional intake, physical well-being, and quality of life. Health conditions can lead to muscle weakness, and as a consequence many individuals experience reduced chewing efficiency. Two such groups include individuals who have experienced a long-term eating disorder and individuals with dementia. At the moment, chewing efficiency is overlooked by the healthcare services, with no long-term treatment plans to help prevent or improve deterioration. As a consequence, preventable premature deterioration is leading to significant negative impacts. Individuals are experiencing decreased physical and psychological well-being linked to shorter lifespan, decreased quality of life, and social isolation. Their loved ones also experience significant physical and mental stress. Service users in these groups report feeling forgotten and overlooked by the healthcare service. We propose a solution to help address this.

Our novel system will provide users with a simple, accessible, non-invasive solution to remotely measure their chewing efficiency from the comfort of their own home. The technology will work by asking users to chew a standardised food (e.g., carrot) before spitting the food into a container with a marked grid. A simple photograph of the container can then be uploaded to the website (by the user or their carer) which will automatically calculate the user's chewing efficiency and provide their tailored treatment plan. Their plan will include a set of physical therapy exercises and foods (classified by how challenging they are to eat) recommended for improving their muscle strength to increase chewing efficiency. As the user's chewing improves, the recommended exercises and foods will update to facilitate further improvement.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that healthcare solutions truly meet service users' needs. Therefore, we will be conducting a series of workshops with three key user-groups from the very start of the project: individuals with lived experience of eating disorders and dementia, their carers and loved ones, and healthcare professionals. This engagement with service users will continue throughout the project including the development of the prototype. Specifically, their feedback will be used to drive the design and refinement of the final intervention to ensure it meets their requirements, e.g., in regards to functionality, usability and privacy.

In addition to improving well-being for service users and their loved ones, this cost-effective remote healthcare solution could significantly improve healthcare efficiency with reduced time and financial costs for overburdened healthcare services.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Impacts
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Summary
Date Materialised
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