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Seminar: Sport is Medicine, Massimiliano Zecca, Chair of Healthcare Technology and leader of the Wearable BioRobotics research team in the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering of Loughborough University

Monday 4 March 2019, 11.00 - 12.00
Elec SR 2.56

Abstract: Physical exercises have been prescribed for good health since 600BC, and there is plenty of scientific evidence that exercise is effective to improve health outcomes. The healthcare scenario, however, is changing at an increasingly rapid pace: on one hand, the population is becoming older, with more than 16% of the world population expected to become over 65yo by 2050, due to a contemporary decrease of birth rate and increase of life expectancy (megatrend #1); on the other hand, more and more technology is entering our healthcare system and our daily lives (megatrend #2). Current healthcare systems are not sustainable, as both megatrends call for a more personalised and objective healthcare, to allow people to live longer, healthier lives, as well as to allow health professionals to be more efficient and proficient in their jobs, while at the same time reducing the costs for the society. To achieve this, there is the clear need for a contextual understanding of the activities (what is being done? when? where? how?) to be used to inform any subsequent plan.
Our research is focused in particular on the observation and the analysis of the human being, which can be seen as an extreme and exquisite example of a robotic system, and on the development of the necessary tools to inform this understanding. Specifically, we aim at the objective quantification of the capabilities and skills in different situations, such as surgical training or rehabilitation, just to mention a few, and the application of these findings for developing more advanced healthcare systems. The healthcare sector, however, is highly regulated with very high barriers to entry, and as such it is always difficult to test innovative solutions. Sport can be considered the Petri Dish for technological innovation, allowing the exploration of several different ideas and solutions to identify the most promising ones, which can be progressed further. This presentation will show a few current examples of these activities.

Bio: Professor Massimiliano Zecca is Chair of Healthcare Technology and leader of the Wearable BioRobotics research team in the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering of Loughborough University. He is based in STI, the Sports Technology Institute of Loughborough University, and is a key member of the NCSEM, the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, both located in Loughborough. Before joining Loughborough University Prof. Zecca worked in Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, from 2003 to 2013, as Associate Professor of Robotics, and in Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy, from 1999 to 2003.  Prof. Zecca’s main research interests focus on the development of wearable and portable, extremely small and very accurate bespoke sensors, together with the necessary data processing and analysis methodologies (artificial intelligence) to extract useful information from the raw data flow. The skilful combination of advanced hardware with advanced software makes it possible to make measurements in situations where it would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to measure. Current projects include the development of nearable measurement system for the objective assessment of exercise at home, the development of a real-time biomedical physiological sensing for first responders or exposed workers, and the development of a smart training system for surgeons.