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University of Cumbria named among nation’s lifesavers

Susie in an About Being session with one of the University of Cumbria’s dance students.

A dance therapy group for stroke survivors at the University of Cumbria has today been recognised for its contribution to keeping the nation healthy.

Susie Tate and the ‘About Being’ team made up of lecturers and students studying dance, occupational therapy and physiotherapy are today named as one of the nation’s lifesavers – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making life-changing differences to the nation’s health and well being.

They have been named for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s ‘MadeAtUni’ campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.

The About Being community group.

The ‘About Being’ project offers stroke survivors in Carlisle weekly dance and movement sessions to support and maintain their ongoing recovery and rehabilitation.

The dance and movement classes have been specially designed to support people to move more, reduce isolation and encourage better well being. Care givers and family members are invited to join sessions to give them respite from their caring duties.

The project also offers an opportunity for the university’s dance, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students to experience work in the dance and health sector by training and volunteering for the sessions.

The nation’s lifesavers are fighting diseases, helping new parents and children enjoy the best start in life, supporting older people and improving our mental health and well being. The selection reveals the amazing use of technology, such as drones to fight malaria, a smart glove for communicating sign language and robots helping older people.

Universities from across the country were invited to nominate an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to the nation’s health and well being. Over 100 universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

Susie Tate, Honorary Associate Lecturer, at the University of Cumbria said: “We are honoured to feature as one of the nation’s lifesavers for our work supporting stroke survivors to live a more active, social and creative life.”

“It’s equally an invaluable opportunity for our students who not only get practical experience relevant to their future careers but they have also made connections with people they may not normally meet, enriching their lives to the mutual benefit of all involved.”

This approach has been praised by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust for the positive impact it has for stroke rehabilitation patients.

Dr. Paul Davies, Consultant Stroke Physician North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “There are only a few centres in the UK that have access to dance and music therapy as part of stroke rehabilitation programmes and we are fortunate that we can offer this in Carlisle.

“You only have to see the pleasure patients get when they start doing something they enjoy.  Many patients believe that they can’t take part but dance therapy can be done sitting or standing so it is very inclusive.

“Recovery after stroke requires the development of new neural pathways.  These pathways develop and become stronger with repetitive movement.  I believe this is how dance therapy can help stroke patients recover.”

In addition, the project has expanded to offer in-patients with acute strokes weekly dance and movement sessions, with the aim of inviting them to join the community sessions when they leave hospital.

Alison Smith, Executive Chief Nurse at the trust said: “This is a fantastic project and we are thrilled to be participating and helping our patients with their recovery and rehabilitation.

“We know that muscle strength can reduce by 2-5 percent in the first 24 hours and up to 10 percent in the first seven days of hospital admission so keeping patients moving, mobile and active has a real positive benefit to health and their overall recovery.”

Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said: “When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics – many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and well being issues we care about and the causes that matter.

“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.

“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”

Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep up healthy. The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen. More information on the campaign can be found on the dedicated website: www.madeatuni.org.uk

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