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Operation Brain awarded top prize at Wales conference

A creative engagement activity developed by the Brain Repair and Intracranial Neurotherapeutics (BRAIN) Unit has won the Best Interactive Stand award at this year’s Health and Care Research Wales Conference.

The success marks the second year running that the BRAIN Unit has claimed this particular accolade for their engagement initiatives, with their ‘Splodge on the Brain’ art project similarly receiving the most votes from delegates at last year’s event.

Operation Brain game

‘Ataxia and Me’ Alan tries his hand at Operation Brain

‘Operation Brain’, which was presented by the BRAIN Unit at the full-day annual conference at Cardiff’s SWALEC Cricket Stadium on Thursday 5 October, is a quirky take on the mainstream board-game ‘Operation’. Participants were invited to try their hand at brain surgery by removing all parts of the ‘brain’ structure to learn how each area controls different functions within the body.

But there’s a catch! The task must be completed in under 30 seconds while the participant endeavours to cause minimal brain trauma by not allowing their metal tweezers to touch the sides of the holes, which would trigger vibrations and a light to appear, signalling brain injury had been caused and points lost.

The competition got heated at the event, which attracted health professionals, academics and lay representatives from across Wales, as participants battled it out on the leader board to win chocolate brains and foam brain prizes.

Steady-handed winner, Kirsty, took home the top prize (a custom brain mug!) by being the only budding ‘neurosurgeon’ out of 37 participants to remove all seven brain pieces without causing any unnecessary ‘trauma’.

Operation Brain winner Kirsty collects her custom mug and prizes at the BRAIN Unit stand

“We are absolutely delighted to win the Best Interactive Stand award two years running,” said Manager of the BRAIN Unit Dr Laura Bunting, who delivered a talk at the conference celebrating the importance of public involvement in research.

“The conference is a fantastic opportunity to get delegates thinking about how the brain areas control different parts of the body, and how our lives can be significantly challenged if our brain is injured or the system goes awry.

“Whether it be frontal lobe damage affecting a person’s executive functions or neuro-disorders such as Parkinson’s disease impacting movement – it is our aim to stress the importance of research in finding more effective therapies for these conditions.

“It is so rewarding to see our fun and competitive Operation Brain game helping people engage and understand more about our most vital organ – bring on next year’s competition!”

Find out more about the BRAIN Unit here: