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Salford and partners set to become a global leader in Prosthetics & Orthotics

Monday 4 February 2019

THE UK is set to train many more highly skilled engineers in prosthetics and orthotics following the announcement of a new global centre of excellence based at the University of Salford.

Worldwide demand for artificial limbs, braces, footwear and other devices which help people recover from injury is accelerating, but manufacturers and practitioners require a rare combination of clinical, medical and engineering skills.

The Centre, to be based at the University of Salford, is set to train up to 60 individuals to doctoral level over the next eight years to address the skills gap at home and abroad.  Salford’s key collaborators the UK’s principal prosthetics and orthotics research centres:  Imperial College London, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Southampton.

The £11million project, with £5.3M coming from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), partners the Centre with 27 industry and clinical collaborators, including two of the largest manufacturers of prosthetic and orthotic devices, Blatchford and Össur,and the global leader in research in the field, Northwestern University in the US.

'Woeful shortage'

This unique doctoral four-year research training programme will be complemented by a new Masters’ programme operating across all four partner Universities.  Students will be supported by national and global industry, and clinical, patient and service partnerships who will ensure high-quality training, and provide placement and employment opportunities.  Many students are expected to be graduates in Engineering with the remainder coming from industry and some from clinical backgrounds.

"Globally, 100 million people need prosthetic and orthotic devices, and this is rising rapidly.  With most users now being of a working age,there is an ever-increasing need to develop more sophisticated devices suited to a range of diverse needs." explained Centre director Malcolm Granat, Professor of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Salford.  

"There is a woeful shortage of research engineers who have a deep understanding of these challenges. Our expectation is that this new centre will create a talented workforce, who will be equipped to produce local and global solutions to transform lives."

The majority of students will come from the UK, but the centre will also work to support training for students from low and middle-income countries, including Cambodia, Uganda and Jordan.

UK and global demand

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than two billion people are expected to require health-related assistive devices by 2030.

In the UK, the Disabled Living Foundation estimates that 6.5million people live with mobility disablement, while in parts of the developing world, and often in the aftermath of conflict, there is a growing and desperate need for prosthetics and orthotics support.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Helen Marshall said: “To become the first centre for doctoral training of prosthetists and orthotists in the UK is hugely prestigious and a fantastic result for the team.

"The University of Salford prides itself on establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with industry and this particular initiative will not only strengthen the prosthetics and orthotics industry but have a real world impact on people living with serious injury both in the UK and globally."

Student applications to the CDT will be open from 14th February.  Any enquiries to be sent

- The University of Salford is one of only two universities in the UK running an undergraduate programme in Prosthetics and Orthotics.

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Gareth Hollyman, Senior Press & PR Officer (Science)

0161 295 6895