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Frenchay BIRU Specialist Physiotherapist, Caz Icke, wins prestigious Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ Award

Posted / 09 March 2021

Caz Icke, Specialist Physiotherapist at Frenchay BIRU in Bristol, has won an Innovate UK’s ‘Women in Innovation’ Award for the development of her pioneering Solesense product, a customisable rehabilitation solution designed to help individuals who have balance and walking difficulties as a result of brain injuries, strokes and other neurological conditions.

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency.  Launched in June 2016, the Women in Innovation campaign aim was to find and engage more women in the UK with brilliant ideas for innovation and to provide these women with access to advice, funding and connections to help them rapidly achieve their business ambitions.  This year there were a total of 40 winners out of 750 applications and the innovations this year ranged from developing tools and products to enable precision medicine for underrepresented populations, to offering a sustainable collection of aerospace interiors to creating digital educational tools.  Each of the 40 winners receive a one year tailored package of financial support, coaching, mentoring and business growth opportunities.

Caz’s 13 years of experience as a neurorehabilitation physiotherapist has enabled her to witness first-hand the devastating impact of brain injuries and other neurological conditions.  The chronic shortage of therapist contact time in the UK health service prompted her to create Solesense, a simple health tech product that can augment therapy input. Wireless sensor insoles track weight shift and relay this information in audio-visual format to the wearer via an app.  It can be used by clinicians during therapy sessions but also by patients independently and  can be tailored to each individual’s ability. For patients who are often on a long journey to recovery, with this technology, they can supplement therapy time and may make a swifter recovery.

With the Award, Caz will now be able to develop a second prototype of her SoleSense product that will test whether this kind of wearable technology can increase therapy intensity through independent exercise and self-management. Integration of novel forms of auditory feedback will also investigate the concept of sensory substitution within the neurological  population for the first time.

‘The Women in Innovation Award’ has provided a fantastic level of validation to this project, boosted my confidence as a clinical entrepreneur,  and kickstarted the product in to the next phase of its research and development life cycle. ’ she says.