Centre for Human Movement and Rehabilitation
Co-developing world-class human movement and rehabilitation research and education that addresses real-world challenges faced by our communities.
Research within the Centre for Human Movement and Rehabilitation addresses a series of important global health challenges that limit mobility, are associated with pain, and can prevent people from living independently.
The work encompasses rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, long-term conditions, such as limb loss, diabetes and stroke, along with health states associated with ageing, such as frailty. The centre also has a strong focus on sport and exercise, encompassing research related to strength and conditioning, sports biomechanics and sport injury.
Across the research centre, many research styles and disciplines are brought together. This ranges from engineering and computational modelling through to health behaviour, social sciences and qualitative research.
In addition to delivering innovative research insights, we work closely with the NHS and industry partners to develop and test new treatments and to create innovative healthcare products and services. We also work closely with many leading international partners, including Universities across the US, Africa, Australia and Europe. We consult closely with users and patient groups to develop health care solutions focused on the needs of patients or community groups.
The centre plays a key role in training the research workforce of the future and houses the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in prosthetics and orthotics.
Knee biomechanics and injury
This area of research seeks to understand the integrated functioning of the knee joint in health and disease. Our research focuses on the study of movement, muscle control, mechanical loading and on mechanisms which underlie knee injuries and subsequent pain. We use this knowledge to understand disease mechanisms and processes, suboptimal mechanical loading and to create and evaluate interventions developed to help people recover from injury and reduce knee pain.
These interventions include a range of different physiotherapist led approaches, such as exercise, biofeedback, gait re-training along with assistive devices designed to improve knee function, such as insoles, braces, footwear. We focus primarily on patellofemoral pain, anterior cruciate ligament injury and knee osteoarthritis but are expanding the remit of our research to other lower limb conditions, such as hip osteoarthritis.
This area of research draws together multiple disciplines, such as biomechanics, rehabilitation, sport and pain science and has been supported by various funders including the EPSRC, Versus Arthritis, NIHR and industry. We also have strong collaborations with leading international experts in this area.
Prosthetics and orthotics
We lead and host the EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Prosthetics and Orthotics, with Imperial, Strathclyde and Southampton as academic partners together with 27 external partners including the major P&O manufacturers. The CDT is recruiting 58 PhD students and provides wide-ranging multidisciplinary research, embedded in industry, user and stakeholders needs.
Projects range in scope from policy-focused research, in collaboration with the WHO, to design of novel prosthetic devices.
Our work on lower-limb prostheses has included:
- Evaluation of a novel self-aligning hydraulic ankle
- Work on energy inefficiency in amputee gait
- The design and simulation of a novel prosthetic ankle, which uses miniature hydraulics to store and return energy
- Design and testing of adjustable sockets
Work on upper-limb prostheses focuses on three quite different problems:
- The design of purely mechanical prostheses for Low to Middle-Income Countries
- Solving the socket motion artefact problem that causes false activations of myoelectric prosthetic hands
- Design and testing of adjustable sockets.
Foot health and footwear
This research uses quantitative and qualitative approaches to measure and understand a wide range of themes relating to footwear and foot health. Quantitative approaches include investigating foot and lower limb biomechanics, footwear and orthotic design and skin physiology and mechanics.
Qualitative approaches explore health interventions to support declines in foot health, health service delivery, education and training and changing professional practice.
Current projects include:
- Quantifying the development of feet in infancy as we learn to walk
- Foot biomechanics to support industry footwear and orthotic design and testing
- Skin hydration and related treatments
- Plantar pressure in real-world monitoring in people with Diabetes
- The impact of losing foot health on overall wellbeing.
Measurement of free-living physical behaviour
The measurement of free-living physical behaviour aims to facilitate the study and applications of objective measurement and quantification of free-living physical behaviour(s) using body-worn devices.
We have developed event-based analysis techniques and outcome measures and collaborations with clinicians and health practitioners allow this research to be applied across varied populations where the benefits of physical activity to health are of key importance.
Outcomes measures, based on physical behaviour patterns, are being developed to quantify the effectiveness of interventions in clinical groups and these techniques are also being used to enhance our understanding of how physical behaviours are affected by environmental and social factors.
The aim of this area of research is to deliver research which can improve quality of life for people with long-term conditions, such as rheumatological disease, diabetes and respiratory illness. Our research spans a broad remit, from the exploration of disease mechanisms and development of measurement tools through to the development of new interventions and evaluation of clinical and cost-effectiveness of NHS treatments.
Our work has a strong digital component. For example, we have created an online hub to help patients self-manage rheumatological conditions and are developing an avatar-based representation of breathing to facilitate the self-management of respiratory disease.
Our research has real-world impact on patients, public, and Communities of Practice (CoP) and is supported by our close links and involvement with national policy makers, patient groups and charities, clinical services and professional bodies.
Rehabilitation Technologies and Biomedical Engineering
Rehabilitation Technologies and Biomedical Engineering is a cross-school area of research, jointly led by Professors Laurence Kenney (Health Sciences), David Howard (Science Engineering and the Environment) and Malcolm Granat (Health Sciences). We focus on the design and development of new rehabilitation technologies aimed at assisting functional movement, together with novel methods for their evaluation.
Current areas of research include the design of a novel device to improve the control of upper limb prostheses and the design and evaluation of safer walking aids. In addition to many collaborations with teams in the UK (such as the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Manchester), we have a long-standing collaboration with Biomedical Engineers at Makerere University in Uganda focused on the development of upper limb prosthetic devices.
Our research has led to patented designs, and a spin-out company in China which produces a functional electrical stimulation system for stroke rehabilitation.
Sport and Exercise
The sport and exercise area of research is multidisciplinary and focusses primarily on two key areas, athlete health and performance, and population health.
Our athlete health and performance research explores the determinants of human performance and injury in sport and exercise, which includes advanced methods of assessing and enhancing athletic performance across the ability range (e.g., recreational [such as habitual runners], and elite athletes [such as professional footballers]). We work closely with several national and international sports organisations and sports technology providers to support this research area through funded projects.
With respect to population health, we investigate the mechanisms by which exercise, physical activity, and nutrition aids health and either prevents or treats injury and disease. We also explore how improving exercise, physical activity and eating behaviours can enrich the daily lives of various population groups via targeted biomechanical, physiological, and nutritional assessments and interventions.
Centre for Human Movement and Rehabilitation
Explore our Centre for Human Movement and Rehabilitation website to find out more about our recent projects.