Rehabilitation is an integral part of health and social care delivery; extending from acute hospital based care through to care within the community. It encompasses the recovery, maintenance of function and prevention of avoidable complications in people who have resolving conditions (such as low back pain, head injury or stroke), and those whose condition is static or deteriorating (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease or arthritis). 

Our research in this area reflects the priority given by health and social care services to provide evidence based management of people with these broad ranging conditions.

Rehabilitation Research Group: current and future work

Research into disability and rehabilitation takes place under the aegis of a cross-faculty group that also involves researchers in the Peninsula Medical School and the local NHS. Its focus is to investigate a broad range of issues, extending from the underlying mechanisms of disability, to the evaluation of rehabilitation interventions designed to prevent or manage disability across a range of conditions. The research being conducted provides an excellent mix of pathophysiology, behavioural science and health care practice, thus providing a good forum for scientists, health care professionals and service users to exchange ideas and develop new research ventures.

Research to date has focused on four main areas:

Understanding the underlying causes of functional difficulties:

  • The kinetic and kinematic assessment of movement in people with low back pain (Gary Shum)
  • Peripheral nerve excursion in people with carpal tunnel syndrome (Alan Hough)
  • Impact of impairments on function in people with central and peripheral neurological disease (Jon Marsden)
  • The effects of localised temperature changes on neuromuscular function in Hereditary Spastic Paraparesis and Multiple Sclerosis (Amanda Austin)
  • Sensory mechanisms of balance impairment in cerebellar disease (Lisa Bunn)
  • Muscle function in people with Parkinson's Disease (Bernhard Haas)
  • The effects of foot and ankle impairments on mobility and balance in adults post stroke: a personal and multidisciplinary approach (Terry Gorst)
  • Understanding the biomechanics and pathoaetiology of injury in gymnasts (Erin Byrd)

Evaluating the effectiveness of whole-care packages and targeted interventions

  • Standing Up in Multiple Sclerosis. A multi-centre randomised controlled study to assess the effectiveness of a home-based self-management standing frame programme in people with progressive MS. (Jenny Freeman)
  • Balance Right in Multiple Sclerosis (BRiMS): A guided self-management programme to reduce falls and improve quality of life, balance and mobility in people with Multiple Sclerosis. (Hilary Gunn and Jenny Freeman)
  • Development and evaluation of orthoses to optimize healthy foot function (Emma Cowley)
  • Evaluation of the effects of stretching in people with Multiple Sclerosis (Jodielin Hall)
  • Assessment and treatment of dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint (Erin Byrd

  • Automatic Creation of Low-Cost Insoles for the prevention of diabetic foot ulcers (Joanne Paton)
  • Development and clinical evaluation of a new dual purpose insole used for ulcer prevention and balance-enhancement in neuropathic individuals with diabetes  (Joanne Paton)
  • Developing lycra orthoses to accelerate return to sport after lumbo-pelvic injury (Leanne Sawle) 
  • Pilates based core stability training in multiple sclerosis (Esther Fox)

Relationship between changes in vertebral artery blood flow volume and clinical outcome measures in people with cervicogenic dizziness under the management of chiropractic upper cervical spine adjustment (Gary Shum and Alan Hough)

Understanding mechanisms underlying rehabilitation and factors affecting prognosis

Evaluating processes of service delivery

Our researchers