The OPM Collaboration – Outstanding Public Engagement Project 2022

Previously, magnetoencephalography (MEG) has been used for pre-surgical mapping and spike localisation in epilepsy. However, it requires the subject to stay very still, meaning that the surgical planning stage is often delayed for young children with epilepsy until they can stay very still.
Using the new technology Optically Pumped Magnetometer-based Magnetoencephalography (OP-MEG), brain scans can now identify seizure sites non-invasively and be performed even while subjects move, allowing younger people with epilepsy to be scanned. 

The OPM Collaboration aimed to raise the voices of young people with epilepsy and co-develop OP-MEG helmets, activities, and resources for more comfortable and stress-free scanning. Through this, the project hoped to also increase scanning retention time and allow for better, more high quality data. 

The team created a network of partnerships to support and engage young people with epilepsy and their guardians, working closely with Young Epilepsy and teams specialising in research, play, and neurophysiology. Creative workshops were developed to discuss and collaborate with people with lived experience of epilepsy, focusing on the design of OP-MEG helmets and activities to do during the scanning process. This involved explanatory videos, bespoke workbooks, facilitator guides, and activity materials, with a focus on providing participants with accessible forms of feedback. 

The project also worked with specialists to develop the design and facilitation of
the engagement. Hefin Jones, Creative Facilitator, worked with the researchers and engagement team to develop engaging and creative ways to work with young people (5-8yrs) over a series of online workshops. Mark Lim, from Chalk Studios, developed expertly crafted kits for the participants to build their own helmets and play.

From this feedback, a list of recommendations were generated for materials to help improve understanding of OP-MEG and the comfort of participants in future research.

The OPM Collaboration has highlighted the importance of collaboration in public engagement and is a brilliant example of an outstanding engagement project. It is an example of where meaningful engagement can really enhance research outcomes, with the case study to be shared via a film in the next month.

 We are delighted to award the team Outstanding Public Engagement Project 2022, celebrating the high quality and significant impact of the project.

On winning the award, Stephanie Mellor from the OPM Collaboration team said:

We’re really proud of the work that has gone into this project and the outcomes from it, both in terms of personal development and for the wider OP-MEG and epilepsy communities. It would not have been possible without the exceptional Public Engagement Team at the WCHN and it was a real honour to win this award.

Congratulations to the OPM Collaboration team on their magnificent contribution to public engagement!

Awarded June 2022.