UWE animator makes film for pilot NPH awareness campaign in Bristol

Issue date: 26 May 2011

A talented animation student from the University of the West of England has created a short animated film highlighting the symptoms of a little known condition that mainly affects people over 60 called NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus).

The film will be broadcast in 37 GP waiting rooms via the Life Channel across Bristol this summer from 1 June to 31 August. The pilot campaign has been organised by the Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (ASBAH) in partnership with the UWE School of Animation.

NPH symptoms include difficulty walking, short term memory loss and urinary incontinence. These symptoms are often wrongly assumed to be all about old age but there are treatments that can improve quality of life.

At present many people remain undiagnosed and ASBAH have engaged the help of Susan Elliott, who is studying towards the MA in Animation at UWE, to illustrate the symptoms in a way that will encourage more people who may have the condition to seek out help. The pilot campaign will test whether raising public awareness in one locality will lead to an increase in diagnosis and treatment.

Susan Elliott says that for her the project was serendipitous as it fitted well with her interest in using information graphics to communicate complex information.

She explains, “The animation is a short 30 second film – the challenge was to come up with a simple message that would work in the context of the GP surgery, using colours that could be easily absorbed, figures that would be realistic enough to make sense and to convey a message that treated a symptom like urinary incontinence with sensitivity.”

Susan has designed all the characters using an animation package called illustrator. The figures resemble little paper cut outs or split pin dolls that are animated using a 2D digital animation package called Flash. The film can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/user/ASBAHCharity?feature=mhum

Susan says, “The film starts off with a gentleman sitting on a park bench and introduces the symptoms one by one. I treated the urinary incontinence symptom by showing an elderly lady having to rush off to the toilet half way through her meal. The imagery is supported by words that explain the symptoms and is clear and concise so I really hope it has resonance with the people who are experiencing the symptoms.”

ASBAH Chief Executive Jackie Bland says she is delighted with the collaboration with UWE, 'Susan's animation will be a huge help in our campaign as it so clear and memorable. We know that at least 250,000 people will see it in the GPs surgeries and others will be able to access it via youtube. Susan has also illustrated a leaflet on NPH for us and these are going out to local care agencies. The more people who know about NPH the better as the sooner someone is diagnosed the more likely they are to benefit from treatment and we have seen what a huge difference treatment can make to people's quality of life.'

Susan has also provided animation for a video about recycling commissioned by Exeter City Council.

She concludes, “The course at UWE has been excellent and the opportunity to work with ASBAH has been the icing on the cake.”

Chris Webster, Deputy Head of Bristol School of Animation, said, “We are approached regularly by organisations asking for help to create promotional films for products and campaigns. We do encourage our students to carry out live projects alongside course work as it enhances their experience and makes them more employable if they can show client led work. But it is equally important to point out that the client brief has to be a two way thing – a meaty project for a student that will stretch their abilities and absolutely not cheap labour.

“The ASBAH project has been a brilliant example of an excellent client/student opportunity. The work supports an important campaign and will be seen by many people. Animation has been used to promote health very successfully in the past and I think there is a considerable market to develop this genre. Susan is a very talented animator with a really mature attitude and I think she is going to be someone to watch out for in the future. She is typical of our MA Animation students having graduated in Film Studies and German. When choosing people for the very popular MA Animation at UWE we look for a genuine curiosity and some experience of animation but many have not come to us via the animation graduate route.”

To find out more about studying animation at UWE go to http://courses.uwe.ac.uk/w92012


Editors notes:


NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus) can cause short-term memory loss and balance problems (often resulting in falls). People with NPH may develop a distinctive way of walking 'as though the feet are stuck to the floor'. NPH mainly effects people over 60 years old. The cause is often unknown but, with early diagnosis, people will often benefit from treatment. In medical terms, NPH is an abnormal accumulation of CSF in the ventricles of the brain with little or no increase in pressure.

For more information on NPH go to www.asbah.org and type NPH in the search box. If you have any questions about the NPH Awareness pilot campaign please contact Laura Read Tel 0115 9224402 laurar@asbah.org


ASBAH is Europe's largest organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and families as they face the challenges arising from spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Spina bifida and hydrocephalus are life-long conditions and ASBAH's support is always on hand - from before birth (with advice on healthy pregnancy), throughout childhood, the teenage years and all of adult life.

ASBAH offers help, information and advice on Spina bifida, Hydrocephalus, NPH (Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus), IH (also known as IIH or BIH) and Anencephaly

ASBAH relies on voluntary donations to continue its work.

ASBAH help and advice over 75,000 individuals (including individuals, professionals, carers and families). The demand for the service is exceptionally high and constantly increasing. ASBAH receives around 400 requests for help from new families each year.


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