Schoolgirl Nichola’s Death Could Have Been Prevented by a Simple Piece of Equipment

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The British National Press recently reported on the tragic death of Nichola Coombs, the twelve-year-old schoolgirl who suffered an epileptic fit thought to be brought on by flickering images on the TV. Nichola, from Bridport, in the west of England, was in the house alone after coming home from school. She went to put on a video, was distracted by pictures on TV, had an epileptic fit and fell face-first into a plant pot, dying from suffocation.

The British National Press recently reported on the tragic death of Nichola Coombs, the twelve-year-old schoolgirl who suffered an epileptic fit thought to be brought on by flickering images on the TV. Nichola, from Bridport, in the west of England, was in the house alone after coming home from school. She went to put on a video, was distracted by pictures on TV, had an epileptic fit and fell face-first into a plant pot, dying from suffocation.

Yet her sad death could have been prevented by a revolutionary piece of technology already in use, according to the UK’s market leader in vision science technology. Rochester based Cambridge Research Systems developed and manufactures the HardingFPA Broadcast Flash & Pattern Analyser – an important piece of vision science equipment used in the broadcasting and advertising industries.

The HardingFPA, developed in 2001 in partnership with photosensitive epilepsy expert Professor Graham Harding, can analyze potentially harmful broadcast material at any stage of the production process and is fast and easy to use.

“Nicola’s death could have been prevented” said Tom Robson, Cambridge Research Systems managing director. Using the HardingFPA prevents most, but not all, epileptic seizures brought on by bright, flickering TV pictures. Interestingly, the most susceptible are girls of school age, many of whom don’t suffer from other forms of epilepsy”, he said.

In the famous ‘Pokemon Incident’ in Japan in the 1990s, 600 children were taken to hospital after watching a cartoon. There have been similar, though smaller, incidents in the UK, and BBC3 recently ran a programme on Nintendo and a possible link between on-screen games and photosensitive epilepsy.

Tom Robson stresses the potentially life-saving importance of the HardingFPA: “The ITU, the group that sets the standards for international broadcasting have issued guidelines on how much flashing may be broadcast on TV. We are delighted to say the HardingFPA is already valued by the BBC and is enjoying worldwide sales as more organisations begin to realise the damage that flickering TV pictures can have on certain people. Complying with these guidelines could save the lives of vulnerable people like Nichola” he said.

For further information on the HardingFPA Flash and Pattern Analyser, please contact Tony Carpenter at Cambridge Research Systems on +44 1634 720707.

T: +44 1634 720707

E-mail tony.carpenter@crsltd.com Web: http://www.hardingfpa.tv http://www.crsltd.com
Post: Cambridge Research Systems Limited, 80 Riverside Estate, Sir Thomas Longley Rd, Rochester, Kent ME2 4BH England    

Note to editors:

In 2004, Cambridge Research Systems celebrated 15 years of providing leading technology for vision science.

The company was founded by Professor John Robson FRS and his son, Tom Robson, to design and manufacture equipment for vision scientists. Now the market leader in this field, CRS remains dedicated to scientific and technical excellence in their growing range of solutions for both basic and clinical research.

The company produces a wide range of equipment which they exhibit at major conferences throughout the world.

Free technical and programming support for all CRS products is available 24/7 via the company’s new online Support Portal.

For further information, please contact Tony Carpenter.

T: +44 1634 720707

E-mail tony.carpenter@crsltd.com

Web: http://www.hardingfpa.tv http://www.crsltd.com
Post: Cambridge Research Systems Limited, 80 Riverside Estate, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Rochester, Kent ME2 4BH England

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