Born in 18th April 1955, in New Zealand, Professor Janet Eyre is a teacher of Pediatrics Neurosciences at the Newcastle University, United Kingdom. She has always been an enthusiast about cerebral plasticity and, therefore, been keen to develop several studies concerning the cerebral tissue’s ability to repair itself, especially after strokes or trauma.
In 2010, she founded an innovative company called Limbs Alive, Ltd., along with Mrs. Janice Pearse, Senior Occupational Therapist, in partnership with Newcastle University and The Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust. This programme’s name was inspired by a young patient being cared by her project’s team and trying to relearn how to use his arms and hands through a game. He later confessed that he had the feeling that his limbs were coming back to life again. Limbs Alive, Ltd. is a company specialised in the rehabilitation of the upper limb in patient who suffer from hemiplegia. This brilliant project won, in 2010, the Cels Business for Life Partnership with the NHS Award and was a finalist inBlueprint: The North East Universities Business Planning Competition. In the following year, it received an HEFCE UnLtd Social Entrepreneur Award and was a finalist in the Medilink National Awards.
Along with her team, after thirty years of intense study and programmation, she developed a game called “Circus Challenge”, which aims to rehabilitate patients in an unprecedented manner – through online physiotherapy. As such, thanks to the potentialities of today’s technology, it might be possible to greatly recover patients that, for example, have suffered a stroke, by means of a remote control, used by health professionals and physiotherapists, who also make patients’ daily management. This game has become not only a part of their daily routine and leisure time, but it also has the essential key to their motor development and recovery.
Professor Eyre is a medical celebrity, recognized worldwide, having received several awards for her outstanding work, such as The NHS Innovations North Bright Ideas in Health Award, in 2009, the CELS Business for Life Awards— Partnership with the NHS, in 2010, The UnLtd and Higher Education Funding Council for England Entrepreneur Award. In 2011, she received tje Medical Future’s Best Innovation to Improve Patient Care – Cardiovascular Innovation Award and The Medical Futures National Health Service Innovation of the Year Award, in 2012.
When asked by her young patients’ concerned parents on the possibility that their children might be playing the game “too much”, she replied that, if parents wish to see their children becoming bright adults and to improve their cognitive status, then it will certainly be beneficial to let them keep playing. However, although the game was quickly popular amongst the youngsters, it also conquered gradually the heart (and the limbs, of course!) of the elderly, even of those who were extremely reluctant to use such things as a personal computer or the internet. Nevertheless, despite the undeniable potential of rehabilitation technology, Professor Eyre highlights that physiotherapists’ work is still imprescindibile to improve patients’ health evolution. This method is indeed a useful tool that can be used comfortably at home, being the patient able to control and adjust the time spent with it, but it should always be supervised by health professionals in what concerns counselling and monitoring.