“In a nutshell, your advice was not only spot on, it saved us. I believe that if your words about “Headache+1” had not gone through my head on that first night, I would have toughed it out, and in Dougie’s (professional guide) words, I would have lost. How seriously? Doesn’t bear thinking about.” (John Suchet, 2018)
The Environmental Extremes Lab (EEL) hosted the Suchet family, including John (newsreader and musical host on Classic FM) and David (Hercule Poirot) Suchet, on the Saturday 17th March ahead of their trek two weeks later to the iconic and breath-taking Inca city of Machu Picchu. In collaboration with local altitude awareness charity, Para-Monte, Dr Neil Maxwell, Gregor Eichhorn (PhD student), Mel Stemper (recent MSc graduate) and Josh Pennick (current MSc student) carried out altitude screening on the six members of the Suchet family, before Neil provided education around altitude illness and ways to prepare for the trek to make it enjoyable but also safer.
As part of our HB710 – Applied Environmental Physiology – Module which sits within our MSc in Applied Sport Physiology or Applied Exercise Physiology we ran a debate yesterday which we have run for the last few years on which environmental extreme is worse – heat, cold or altitude? The idea came from two BBC articles that posed the question of which environment was more challenging. It was a fun activity at the start of the module to help contextualise some of the problems that environmental extremes can bring and allow some of the students who are newer to environmental extremes to become acquainted with the subject and considerations. There is an underlying objective, which is to make the students think more about how they use research evidence, especially in graphical or tabular form to strengthen their arguments and rationales as this will help them later in the module’s assessment, but also stand them in good stead beyond their degree.
Para-Monte is starting 2018 off with exciting news of the Agoncagua climb by Matt Shore, one of the participants of our Environmental Extremes Lab Para-Monte funded altitude tolerance study.
Matt is a Personal Trainer and with three of his friends, will attempt to climb this highest mountain in the world, outside the Himalayas, starting his expedition on 5 January 2018.
Matt, like others, has also been instrumental in the Paramonte Altitude Study being carried out by the Environmental Extremes Lab at the moment. He was able to take part in the 8 hrs hypoxic chamber test to find out his susceptibility to simulated altitude, which will be very important for his expedition.
Upon reaching the summit, he plans to hold a Para-Monte flag which will be a great endorsement for the charity and what it is doing in terms of altitude awareness.
Congratulations to Matt for taking on this challenge, for helping raise altitude awareness and of course we wish Matt and friends every success!!
You can follow his progress via daily videos or follow Matt on the following link.
Para-Monte release their altitude sickness app. Please download and encourage anyone going to altitude to do the same.
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”
A special event took place at the Sport and Exercise Science Laboratories in Eastbourne campus on Saturday 28 January 2017 when the Para-Monte charity presented the University of Brighton with a cheque for £10,000.
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
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
Congratulations to Dr Rosie Twomey who successfully defended her PhD entitled “Neurophysiological Responses to Rest and Fatiguing Exercise in Severe Hypoxia in Healthy Humans” on 10 November 2016. The external examiners Dr Jamie McDonald of Bangor University and Dr Thomas Rupp of the University of Chambery (France) were very impressed with the quality of Rosie’s work, as well as the quality of her thesis. A clear illustration of this is the absence of any request for amendments to the thesis post-viva!
Rosie was supervised by Dr Emma Ross and Dr Jeanne Dekerle before Emma left for the English Institute of Sport. Jeanne officially became lead supervisor on Emma’s departure and was supported by Dr Neil Maxwell. Jeanne said “Rosie is a wonderful person, she must be proud of her achievement and totally deserves this success”.