Altitude Support for British Airways

 

The Sport and Exercise Science Consultancy Unit (SESCU) and Para-Monte have recently supported six members of staff from British Airways prior to their climb of Jebel Toubkal (4167m) in Morocco for Comic Relief.

They visited the lab and performed an Altitude Screening Test in the hypoxic chamber, which is able to simulate the effects of high altitude through reducing the oxygen levels compared to sea level.

The chamber was set at 3000m whilst they walked at 5km/hr and at a 10% incline, with various measures being taken throughout. This included the Lake Louise Questionnaire which assesses the presence and severity of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) through an individual’s self-reported score on five symptoms: headache, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and/or weakness, dizziness/light-headedness and difficulty sleeping. The LLQ scores showed that four of the individuals were at low risk of AMS, however one was at moderate risk and one was at high risk.

Oxygen Saturation was also measured which is the percentage of oxygen in the blood that has bound with haemaglobin. Oxygen saturation declines with altitude as the atmospheric pressure deceases, however the rate varies considerably between individuals. Comparing the oxygen saturation drop to previous data indicated that five members of the group were at low risk of AMS and one was at moderate risk.

SESCU and Para-Monte also provided the team with equipment to use on their trek to assess their physiological responses to altitude and their risk of AMS. They found that those who presented the highest risk of AMS in the Altitude Screening Test also presented the highest risk on the trek.

The whole team managed to reach the summit safely and no-one reported any severe problems, nor required medical support. They believed the information they had received during the screening had implanted the self-awareness to slow down, break, take on fuel and water and slowly ascend.

 

“The information provided by the University of Brighton certainly helped us prepare for the challenge, and made us aware of the signs and symptoms of altitude illness”

Marathon Des Sables 2017

Building on the success of last year, the SESCU team worked with 10 contenders in the Marathon des Sables, prior to their journey to Morocco. Endurance runners from all over the UK and as far as Switzerland have sought out SESCU’s expertise and facilities to help them prepare for the race.

The Marathon des Sables, is an annual 6 day ultramarathon in which competitors travel 251km in the desert heat. Continue reading

EEL Contribute to PHE’s Annual Heat Wave Seminar

Dr Neil Maxwell and Kirsty Waldock (PhD student), presented at Public Health England’s Annual Heatwave Seminar on March 14 2017 that reviewed the Heatwave Plan in an attempt to reduce the number of deaths, reduce illness and hospital visits and increase public awareness. The seminar hosted delegates and speakers from PHE, NHS, Met Office, national climate change committees and charities, as well as regional council public health departments and universities from around the country. International representation also came from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Background

In Europe, 71,000 people died during the 2003 heat wave, with over 2000 of these excess deaths in England and Wales. For every 1°C above 23.3°C, an extra 75 deaths per week are estimated in the UK [Public Health England (PHE), 2015]. Last year was the third consecutive warmest year since records began and as the earth’s climate is warming with the frequency, intensity and duration of heatwaves increasing, this presents a significant health risk to vulnerable populations (e.g. elderly, children, chronically ill and those with heat sensitivity). Continue reading

Professor Nick Webborn Elected Chairperson of the BPA

Professor Nick Webborn OBE was elected chairperson of the British Paralympic Association on 28 February 2017. He takes on a 2 year tenure at the BPA which selects, prepares, enters and manages the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the Paralympic Games. Nick has attended nine Paralympic Games in multiple roles including Chief Medical Officer for the Paralympics GB at the London 2012 Games.

Nick is involved in on-going research in injury and illness surveillance at each Paralympic games and recently presented at the International Olympic Committee World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport in Monaco to share his current project which is focussed on the prevention of injury through head collisions in Paralympic football 5-a-side.

 

Congratulations to Dr Ben Duncan!

Congratulations to Ben Duncan who passed his PhD defence on 20 January with only minor changes to complete the process.

Ben’s work was on the effects of low oxygen concentration, high altitude exposure, on metabolism of fuel in humans. He did a lot of work in the labs and also translat-ed this to field work during an educational and developmental trip by staff and stu-dents to Peru. A well rounded set of skills and experiences. Congratulations to Ben’s supervisors; Associate Professor Peter Watt and Dr Alan Richardson too!

Ben Duncan (right) with co-PhD graduates Gareth Turner and Jess Mee

EEL support ultra-marathon runner for 220km Cambodia Ultra-Endurance Race!

EEL’s Ash Willmott and three MSc students (Hannah, Luke and Zander) assisted ultra-marathon runners Nick and Andy as they prepared for a 220km race in Cambodia.

“The support provided by each of Hannah, Luke and Zander was excellent in all regards, and proved extremely helpful to both me and Andy in completing the ultra marathon we had entered in Cambodia. The experience we gained around how our bodies would respond to stress in the hot and humid environment, coupled with the physiological knowledge that was shared by the students to help us understand how and why these reactions occurred better equipped us to deal with them during the event and improved our performance. All of the students were professional, friendly and demonstrated a good understanding of the subject matter, which they communicated very clearly – enabling us to maximise the value from the learning experience. I would have no hesitation in using the facilities at Brighton University and support provided by the team in future similar endeavours.” Nick

“I have known Ash now for around 2 years, having first met him while training to run the 2015 Marathon des Sables. More recently, Ash has helped a friend and I prepare for a similar 6-day 220km stage race in Cambodia. The fact that I successfully completed both of these events was, in no small part, helped by the heat acclimatisation and preparation that Ash and his team provided. In particular, the time I spend with Ash helped me better understand the way my body would respond to stress in both hot and humid climates, allowing me to develop appropriate mechanisms to deal with the effects of running in such environments.

Ash has considerable knowledge of his field, together with an ability to impart this knowledge to others through an effective communication style and a genuine desire to help others learn. He takes the time to explain things, not just from a scientific perspective but also from a practical perspective, relating the theory to how things feel and happen in practice. He also has a selfless desire to help others succeed – both in terms of clients who he is helping with acclimatisation and students who he is supervising. Together, these traits mean it is an absolute pleasure to work with Ash and I would, without hesitation, recommend him for any future role and look forward to working with him again in preparation for other events in the future.” Nick

 

Congratulations to Dr Gareth Turner – Awarded PhD!

Gareth Turner was awarded his PhD subject to minor corrections on Thursday 8 December. His PhD thesis, entitled “Hypoxic exposure to optimise altitude training adaptations in elite endurance athletes” was examined by Dr Charlie Pedlar (external examiner, via Skype) and Professor Jo Doust (Internal Examiner). Dr Neil Maxwell (supervisor) sat in on the viva and he said “there is no question the examiners were thorough, but they complemented Gareth on the work he had done, not least as he effectively served two masters in the university and the English Institute of Sport (EIS).” This was a particularly important PhD for the School, being part funded (£40k) by the EIS and strengthened the relationship between the University of Brighton and the EIS. Both examiners encouraged Gareth not to let the data and research sit just within a thesis, as there was valuable information and outcomes that could benefit athletes in the future. Congratulations should also go to the other supervisors (Dr Alan Richardson and Dr Jamie Pringle) for all the support they have given Gareth over the years and of course the extended team at the English Institute of Sport and British Athletics (not least Dr Steve Ingham, Dr Barry Fudge and Dr Emma Ross). Gareth currently works fulltime as a physiologist for the EIS, contracted to British Rowing.

Gareth Turner (left) with co-PhD graduates Jess Mee and Ben Duncan

EEL Receive Awards at International Conference on the Physiology and Pharmacology of Temperature Regulation

Congratulations to Dr Jess Mee and Dr Oli Gibson (former Technical Instructors and PhD Students of SaSM and allied to SESAME) for separately being winners of the American Journal of Physiology–Regulatory, Integrated, and Comparative Physiology Poster Awards at the 6th International Conference on the Physiology and Pharmacology of Temperature Regulation, Slovenia. Congratulations should also be extended to Ash Willmott (Sport and Exercise Science Support Officer and PhD student) since he led the study and poster that Oli presented, but could not attend due to lab testing commitments. Both presenters won $265 to offset the cost of their meeting registration and have been strongly encouraged to submit the presented work to the journal that sponsored the awards.