QMU researcher named among nation’s lifesavers

By Press Office

A researcher from Queen Margaret University (QMU) has been recognised for her life-changing work in speech and language therapy.

Dr Sara Wood, a clinical phonetics researcher and speech and language therapist at QMU, is one of the ‘Nation’s Lifesavers’ – the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.

Dr Wood has 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.

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 wellbeing. Over 100 universities from Plymouth to Dundee submitted a nomination.

As part of a team of therapists and technical experts, Dr Wood has transformed the lives of children suffering with long-term speech communication problems through the use of pioneering visual feedback technology. Using Electropalatography (EPG) – a custom-made artificial palate fitted with electronic sensors – Dr Wood can demonstrate to the child how to change their tongue position to create correct speech sounds.

Her intervention has had a profound impact on many children’s lives, with improved speech boosting their confidence, educational attainment and social interactions, as well as opening the door to a world of opportunities they never thought possible.

Dr Wood said: “It is a fantastic honour to feature as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers for our work to support individuals with intractable speech disorders. It is incredible to witness children grow in confidence when they suddenly achieve what they have been working towards for many years.

“We’re grateful for the support we have received from the Medical Research Council, The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund, the Nuffield Foundation, Wooden Spoon and NHS over many years. The MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.”

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 wellbeing 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 MadeAtUni website.

Notes to Editor

1. *About the Britain Thinks research. Britain Thinks polled 2,063 UK adults online between 30 May and 31 May 2018. Data was weighted to be representative of all UK adults.

2. For further media information, please contact Karen Keith (Media Relations and Content Officer) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: kkeith@qmu.ac.uk T: 0131 474 0000.

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