Our long-awaited Neuro Open Day gave those attending a unique opportunity to see and learn about many of the amazing projects that Smile4Wessex has funded. Following a brief welcome and introduction, visitors were divided into smaller groups and spent 90 minutes rotating around the various areas where clinicians and experts were on hand to explain how Smile4Wessex funding is making a real difference.
In the Neurosciences Seminar Room, Mr Diederik Bulters (Consultant Neurosurgeon) explained how the Inomed IOM Nerve Monitoring System is making complex neuro and spinal surgery safer, and how this equipment in particularly useful in procedures aimed at relieving the excruciating pain associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia cases. Also in the Seminar Room, Dr Tony Birch (Head of Neurological Physics) detailed how Smile4Wessex funding for The Brain Pulse Project is not only helping to develop a non-invasive method of measuring Intra-Cranial Pressure, but has led to some exciting (and unexpected) correlation between ICP measurement and cognitive capacity that could pave the way to early diagnosis of dementia. Another very promising Smile4Wessex funded research project, which is looking at a novel Haptoglobin treatment for patients who have suffered a bleed on the brain, was outlined by Mr Diederik Bulters and Patrick Garland (University of Southampton Research Fellow).
Meanwhile, in Neuro Theatres, Mr Paul Grundy (Divisional Clinical Director and Consultant Neurosurgeon), who specialises in neuro-oncology, demonstrated how the Leica M720/OH5 operating microscope's fluorescence imaging technology makes it possible to safely resect a much higher percentage of the cancerous tissue associated with the most aggressive form of brain tumour, GlioBlastoma Multiforme (GBM), than was previously possible. This is recognised as the 'Gold Standard' treatment for such cases, and the Wessex is currently the leading UK centre with regard to this treatment. Also in theatres, Mr Nijaguna Mathad (Consultant Neurosurgeon), who specialises in neuro-endoscopy for skull base and pituitary surgery, demonstrated how the latest project funded by Smile4Wessex, the Storz 3D UltraHD endoscope, gives surgeons a previously unimaginable quality of image, making existing procedures safer to conduct and making possible new, previously impossible, surgical interventions.
The third area visited by groups of visitors was the Smile4Wessex Children's Neurosciences Unit. Here, Mr Aabir Chakraborty (Lead Paediatric Neurosurgeon) explained how this "world class" facility cares for around 300 children each year, of whom around 225 per annum will undergo neurosurgery. He also explained how the Paediatric Video-Telemetry Suite is used to assess children with sever epilepsy for life-changing corrective surgery. Visitors were also shown the 'Wall of Smiles' (click HERE for further details) and the newly opened Interactive Sensory Room, 'The Retreat', which provides a relaxing and stimulating environment in which to aid children's rehabilitation.
Having finished their tours, visitors then returned to the seminar room for a presentation by Dr Ashwin Pinto (Consultant Neurologist) who explained how our latest Smile4Wessex project, The Wessex Plasma Therapy Appeal will fund a Spectra Optia Plasma Exchange system, and how this equipment will be used in the treatment of critically ill patients, as well as to treat day patients to relieve syptoms in a range of individually rare, but collectively common, neurological conditions such as Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).
Having seen for themselves how projects to which Smile4Wessex has contributed over £750,000 are quite literally putting the Wessex Neurological Centre at the forefront of neurological care in the UK, feedback from visitors was unanimously positive with comments such as the following;
"We just wanted to thank you and all the staff for a fantastic visit yesterday. It was a most informative morning and what a difference the charity has made. The doctors were brilliant and please pass on my thanks for all their detailed explanations. The charity is punching way above its weight with some spectacular grants and purchase of cutting edge equipment. Everyone should be justly proud of the difference to real lives that has been made. We feel privileged to play a very small part in what has been achieved. Well done !!!!! Regards Steve and Lucy Godfrey."
Finally, visitors were able to see the huge new Ford vehicle transporter, which has recently been added to Ford's fleet, parked adjacent to the neuro centre and resplendent in it's eye-catching Smile4Wessex livery. We are very grateful to Grace in Neuro ICU who nominated Smile4Wessex, and to her husband, Steve, who works at Ford Transport Operations for making this happen. The truck will, for the next five years, make daily runs in and out of Southampton Docks and be a fantastic 'mobile billboard' spreading awareness of the charity across the region and beyond.
Many thanks to all who attended and to all those who helped to make this such a fascinating and informative day. We hope to hold a similar event next year.
Finally we must of course also thank all of our wonderful Smile4Wessex supporters. Without whom, none of these projects would be achievable. We are incredibly grateful for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.