Centre for Health Sciences Research

Prosthetics and orthotics student working in the lab

Health Sciences Research is a thriving, truly multidisciplinary group, focused on improving health outcomes through innovation and research. Our impact is reflected in the 2014 REF Impact case studies 2/3 of which were recognised as being of internationally excellent or world leading quality. Although primarily based in a school of health sciences, our members come from a wide range of backgrounds, from physics to physiotherapy, making us well placed to drive forward innovation, research and practice in health in the 21st century.

Our research spans a wide range of areas from gait biomechanics and assistive device design through to clinical rehabilitation, public health, psychology and diagnostic imaging. Much of our work is funded by the EPSRC, NIHR and medical charities and the strength of our work is also reflected in the numerous industrial and sports partners, including Reckitt Benkiser, Chas A Blatchford and the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance.


Centre for Health Sciences Research
University of Salford
Allerton Building
Frederick Road Campus
M6 6PU
United Kingdom

Research Centre Director: Steve Preece
0161 295 2492

Research Groups

Equity, Health and Wellbeing

This research area covers important contemporary aspects of health and wellbeing, with particular focus on inequalities in health and issues affecting work and the working age population. We specialise in applying and evaluating evidence-based health practice and the design, development and evaluation of contemporary health interventions. Our research spans specific health issues (e.g. chronic illness, behaviour change, physical activity, alcohol misuse) within specific settings (particularly workplaces, schools or communities) using a range of intervention and evaluation methods (e.g. making use of digital/technology). This is an interdisciplinary group, with biopsychosocial expertise, including public health scientists, physiotherapists, exercise and health scientists, psychologists and sociologists.


Professor Penny A. Cook

Equity, Health and Wellbeing Reseach Group Lead

e: p.a.cook@salford.ac.uk

Diagnostic Imaging

The Diagnostic Imaging Research Programme (DIRP) was formed in early 2009 within the Directorate of Radiography at the University of Salford. Today it is comprised of a radiographer-led Research Programme with: 21 PhD students, 13 academic staff in radiography with research time allocations between 100% and 5%; internal University of Salford multi-disciplinary research collaborations involving Computer Science, Engineering, Psychology, Nursing and Occupational Therapy; external multi-disciplinary research collaborations involving radiographers, medical practitioners, orthoptists, computer scientists and medical physicists from academic and hospital settings around the world. As an academic department of radiography we are ranked first in the UK and third in the world for journal publications per annum; typically we publish 20-25 peer reviewed papers a year and present a similar number of papers at international conferences. At any one time there will be around 30 research projects ongoing.


Dr Andrew England
e: a.england@salford.ac.uk

Applied Psychology: Social, Physical and Technology Enabled Environments

Research in Psychology at Salford is aimed at contributing to the understanding and addressing the challenges our Society faces in the 21st century using cutting edge psychological science. With strengths in Cognitive Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing, (including a cutting edge Autism and Criminal Justice Hub), Politics Policy and Practice, and Visual Cognition, our team works tirelessly towards the advancement of theoretical and applied knowledge of the way in which individuals think, feel, and act in interaction with people, groups, and contemporary society as well as technological advances. As such our research advances our theoretical and applied understanding of topics such as the value of educational apps in enabling children learning to talk, the links between visuomotor control and the effective use of prosthetic limbs, creative interventions for depression, VR technology, artificial Intelligence, modern transport, as well as contemporary social and political issues, such as climate change, social media, coercive control and political radicalisation.


Dr Sharon Coen

e: s.coen@salford.ac.uk

Dr Catherine Thompson

e: c.thompson@salford.ac.uk

Human Movement Technologies

The group is led by three Professors, based in the schools of Health Sciences (Granat and Kenney) and Computing, Science and Engineering (Howard) and group members have a broad range of expertise, spanning biomedical engineering, medical instrumentation, biomechanics, gait analysis, activity monitoring, rehabilitation medicine, geriatrics, physiotherapy, public health, prosthetics and orthotics, health sciences, and psychology. Our group includes around ten academic members of staff, six research assistants/fellows and ten PhD students. Our current research is supported by external grants worth well over £2million from NIHR, EPSRC and charities. Members of the group have well over 200 journal publications and we have been instrumental in setting up the new International Society for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour (www.ismpb.org) and the associated journal. Our group recently hosted the XV International Symposium on 3D Analysis of Human Movement(2018) and will host the Trent International Prosthetics Symposium (2019) – with Newcastle and Greenwich Universities.

The main highlights of our research are:

  • Ground breaking work on new approaches to the quantification of free-living physical behaviours.
  • Advanced energy storage and return in lower-limb prostheses using miniature hydraulic systems.
  • We are a partner in the world’s largest RCT trial of a workplace intervention to reduce sedentary behaviour.
  • A controller that is both flexible and easy to set up for upper-limb functional electrical stimulation (FES), which has been trialled as an adjunct to physiotherapy in stroke rehabilitation.
  • Development of novel outcome measures for interventions in a range of clinical conditions.
  • A drop foot stimulator with automated setup (the world’s first demonstration outside the laboratory).
  • Development of a novel approach to falls monitoring.
  • Mathematical modelling and simulation of neuro-musculo-skeletal systems.
  • A novel and rigorous approach to assessing the stability of people using walking aids.
  • Novel approaches to understanding user-assistive device interaction, focusing on upper limb prosthetics and FES systems.
  • Award winning research on monitoring assistive device use outside of the clinic.


Professor Malcolm Granat
+44(0)161 295 2568

Professor David Howard
+44 (0)161 295 3584

Professor Laurence Kenney
+44 (0)161 295 2289


Clinical Rehabilitation

We aim to improve outcomes and quality of life for people with long-term physical conditions by working across the research spectrum: developing measurement tools; identifying the mechanisms underlying impairments; developing evidence-based interventions; and evaluating effectiveness of interventions and their impact on patients and clinical services.

We have breadth and depth of expertise and activity with national and international standing. Since 2005, the group has been awarded £5 million of research grant funding from leading medical charities, the National Institute of Health Research, research councils, the NHS, European and commercial companies. Members have over 70 publications including high impact journals in their relevant fields and supervise 14 post-graduate research students.

A feature of our research is its’ impact on clinical services, patients’ lives and policy nationally and regionally through our close links and involvement with national policy makers, patient groups and charities, clinical services, professional bodies’ research groups to build capacity and capability.


Prof Alison Hammond

University of Salford
L701 Allerton Building
Frederick Road Campus
M6 6PU

t: +44 (0) 161 295 0038
e: a.hammond@salford.ac.uk

Knee, Ankle and Foot

The Foot and Knee research group is focused on 4 keys areas:

  • Biomechanical function of the foot and knee during walking, running and various sports, 
  • How foot and knee structure and function are affected by disease (e.g. diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis), injury (e.g. ACL tears, patellofemoral pain, lateral ankle sprain) and aging. 
  • Clinical and user (patient) research to investigate the real world consequences of poor foot and knee health for patients and athletes. 
  • Investigation of a wide range of physical therapy (e.g. exercise), device (e.g. orthoses) and health behaviour (e.g. compliance with devices or education programmes) interventions.


For queries related to the foot and ankle please contact Professor Chris Nester: c.j.nester@salford.ac.uk

For queries related to the knee please contact Professor Richard Jones: r.k.jones@salford.ac.uk

Virtual Reality

Psychology has long steered the development and understanding of virtual reality. The table is turning with virtual reality being increasingly used as a psychological tool. Unlike the real world, virtual stimuli can be exactly controlled and repeated. However, unlike a traditional psychological experiment, virtual reality can easily stimulate all of the senses together and be combined with simulations that provide richness of experience approaching every day real world scenarios. VR thus offers to bridge the gap between ecological validity and controllability.


Professor David Roberts: d.j.roberts@salford.ac.uk

Sport and exercise

This emerging research area covers a variety of sub-disciplines (biomechanics, performance analysis, physiology, nutrition, psychology) within the sport and exercise sciences subject area. The research has two primary areas of focus: the optimisation of performance and the prevention and rehabilitation of sports injuries. To enhance performance we focus on determining the optimal variations and types of exercise to enhance athletic performance and identifying the key performance characteristics of a variety of sports and how to improve these key characteristics. To minimise injury risk we focus on identifying the aetiology of common musculoskeletal injuries, screening for injury risk factors and validating interventions to reduce such risk factors, along with identifying appropriate methods of rehabilitation post-injury and methods of screening to determine the effects of the rehabilitation programme on athletic performance and subsequent injury risk.


Dr Paul Comfort: p.comfort@salford.ac.uk

Physical activity and health

The work within the physical activity and health theme covers a broad spectrum of research with the overarching aim of improving or maintaining health across a range of clinical conditions. This research collective draws on a number of people with experience and expertise relating to human movement, human physiology, nutrition and clinical knowledge. This includes people with backgrounds in physiotherapy, physical activity and applied human physiology with interests relating to clinical issues and healthy living via appropriate choices of physical activity and diet. Together this team are able to consider issues from a more translational/holistic perspective, potentially examining the human organism from cellular level to whole body in order to answer complex questions relating to health and disease.


Dr Steve Pearson
Tel: +44 (0)1612952673

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy facilitates health and well-being through the therapeutic use of meaningful and purposeful activities. We believe that occupational balance and justice enables individuals of all ages to achieve their full potential in their everyday lives and communities. A high proportion of our research has an emphasis on improving health and well-being in later life, for example, managing widowhood and care-giving, and moving, handling and positioning to increase independence and functional performance in activities of daily living. 

Some of our research focuses on work and vocational rehabilitation, leisure and identity, and achieving occupational balance across the life course. An additional focus of our team is on professional issues including emotional intelligence, service user engagement and leadership.

Our research involves collaboration with professionals and service users in a variety of practice settings, for example, Manchester Royal Infirmary and The Christie Hospital. As an emerging group we are involved in a range of projects within the School of Health Sciences, across the University and with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors. We also work closely with the, more established, Rehabilitation Research group who aim to improve outcomes and quality of life for people with long-term physical conditions.


Jo Webb
Tel: +44 (0)1612950701

Educational Research and Scholarship Cluster

We are a vibrant community that engages in research that impacts teaching, learning and practice. We aim to be a centre of excellence for both research into higher education across disciplines and for the educator’s development of teaching excellence. The cluster works closely with colleagues and industry partners in the NHS, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Higher Education Institutions, Local Authorities, Private, Voluntary and Independent Sectors. We have practice and research links with national and international partners and networks.

Practice Teaching & Learning

Evidence-based practice education is crucial to producing graduates who are ready for their chosen profession. Our research explores the impact of the latest innovations in practice learning across three broad areas: Health; Society and Interprofessional education. We are developing a Greater Manchester Hub for evaluating and disseminating innovations, development and research into new models of health and social care education. This supports the integrated health and social care agenda.

Leadership & Academic Development

Our Leadership Development research investigates how to best develop leaders, particularly those in health and social care environments. Our findings demonstrate the need for a paradigm shift from theoretical leadership development curricula to programmes embracing work-based and experiential learning philosophies. This allows for the leader to experience and reflect on their world of leadership. 


Dr Jackie Leigh
Mary Seacole Building
University of Salford
M6 6PU

t: +44 (0) 161 295 6475
e: j.a.leigh@salford.ac.uk