School Children Learn about Altitude Awareness at Big Bang Fair!

The Environmental Extremes Lab (EEL) and Para-Monte joined forces on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th June at the seventh annual Big Bang Fair South East, held at the South of England Showground. More than 10,000 students between the ages of 9 and 19 attended from 200 schools across the region.

The event was part of the nationwide Big Bang Near Me programme, the biggest single celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. Arguably, the feedback (see tweet) from the son of our very own Sarah Smith (Economic, Social Engangement & Research Administrator of the School of Sport and Service Management) meant the most to Chris and Jeannet Savory, who set up Para-Monte to raise awareness about altitude in memory of their son, Adam Savory, who tragically died form altitude illness in 2012. Continue reading

New PhD Student – Swimming & Altitude Training

We welcome Ben Scott to our Environmental Extremes Lab, new PhD Physiologist with British Swimming who starts his doctorate, entitled ‘Profiling Elite Swimmers and Responsiveness to Altitude Training’. This is an interesting project with it being funded by British Swimming with support from the English Institute of Sport (EIS), based in Loughborough, but registered with the University of Brighton.  Ben will be supervised by Dr Jeanne Dekerle (Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton), Dr Richard Burden (Technical Lead – Physiology, EIS & Senior Lecturer, St Mary’s University) and Dr Karl Cooke (Head of Sports Science and Sports Medicine, British Swimming). We wish him well and are excited to read about the research as it comes out!

 

Hercule Poirot and Suchet Family Supported Before Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu!

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Hot vs. Cold vs. Altitude: which environmental extreme is worse?

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Para-Monte UoB Study Participant Tackles Aconcagua

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.

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”

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

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