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Allied Health Research Unit (AHRu)

The Allied Health Research Unit (AHRu) is led by Professor Jim Richards. Its mission is to increase our understanding of allied health practice and improve the quality of life of patients treated by allied health professionals.


The AHRu pursues these goals by performing basic and applied research; drawing upon the wide range of research methodological expertise.

Our work considers the development of new techniques in the assessment and management of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.

Our focus is on research across the health care professions to help answer important and clinically relevant questions, with research spanning the innovation pathway from intervention development and evaluation through to implementation.

This includes the development and evaluation of the effectiveness of products designed to interact with the body, and the effectiveness of surgical and therapeutic treatments.

These research strands are complemented by a focus on the implementation of the research evidence base in allied health clinical practice.

This includes implementation science approaches to promote the systematic uptake of research findings into routine allied health practice to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services and care.

Supporting the work of the Allied Health Research Unit is the Movement Analysis Laboratory which is one of the top facilities of its type currently in use in Europe.

The Movement Analysis Laboratory is equipped to conduct: advanced motion analysis, force measurement, pressure measurement, muscle and strength assessment, and thermal imaging.

Allied Health Research Unit report 2018-19

Annual Report from the Allied Health Research unit 2018-2019

Read the most recent Annual Report from the Allied Health Research unit.

Read the report

The AHRu has active collaborations with many hospitals, clinics, community health services, voluntary sector agencies and other research groups throughout the UK and around the world.

The AHRu focuses on the ‘real world’ of allied health work as it takes place in practice; facilitating more effective knowledge transfer to the clinical setting.

Our applied inter-professional approach has led to a considerable growth in the number of people engaging in research activities both formally and informally, with now over 30 individuals registered for a variety of research degrees. These currently include, Masters by Research (MRes), MPhil, Medical Doctorate (MD), Professional Doctorate and PhD.

The professions currently engaged in research projects include; physiotherapists, sports therapists, speech and language therapists, podiatrists, prosthetists, occupational therapists, orthotists, osteopaths and surgeons. This mix provides an environment that allows for open discussion of research ideas across the clinical disciplines.

Our current research themes are:

  • Management of neuromuscular conditions
  • Management of musculoskeletal conditions
  • Development of products that interact with the body
  • The implementation of research evidence base in clinical practice

The international impact of the work from our research group includes influencing changes for relevant patient groups in the following ways:

  • pathways of assessment and management for individuals
  • healthcare service delivery approaches
  • prescribing of healthcare products and medical devices
  • professional education of healthcare practitioners
  • continuing professional development and post-qualification training.

Our effective knowledge transfer has been achieved through:

  • our extensive portfolio of international networks and partnerships across industry, commercial, strategic, and practitioner levels
  • internationally recognised professional development forums
  • innovative online learning communities.

The body of research outputs from our group includes world-leading publications across a range of research methodologies. Our group also actively supports many early career and novice researchers, including assistance for healthcare practitioners to undertake practice-based research and systematic service evaluations.

In January 2020 Professor Jim Richards was invited to be an advisor to a newly formed research group in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Malaya.

Research Staff

Associated Staff

External Associates

  • Professor James Selfe (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)
  • Dr Jessie Janssen (Krems University of Applied Sciences)
  • Professor Paola Dey (Edge Hill)
  • Professor David Levine (The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, USA)
  • Associate Professor Yongwook Kim (Jeonju University, Republic of Korea)
  • Professor Areerat Suputtitada (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)
  • Professor Hayri Baran Yosmaoğlu (Baskent University, Turkey)
  • Professor Juliane Mühlhaus-Leinweber (Trier University of Applied Sciences)
  • Professor Kerstin Bilda (Bochum University of Applied Sciences)
  • Professor Wiebke Scharff Rethfeldt (Bremen University of Applied Sciences)
  • Professor Felix Capanni (Ulm University of Applied Sciences)
  • Professor Janice Eng (University of British Colombia)
  • Professor Cathy Holt (Cardiff University)
  • Professor Anthony Redmond (University of Leeds)
  • Associate Prof Cathy Stinear (University of Auckland)
  • Associate Professor Marienke van Middelkoop (Erasmus Medical Centre, NL)
  • Dr Claire Brockett (University of Leeds)
  • Dr Steven Lindley (Delsys)
  • Dr Renato Trede (UFVJM, Brazil)
  • Dr Liane Macedo (UFRN, Brazil)
  • Dr Erin Morehead (University of Texas)
  • Dr Komsak Sinsurin (Mahidol University, Thailand)
  • Dr Barbora Kolářová (Palacký University Olomouc, CZ)
  • Dr Eliška Kuboňová (Ostrava University, CZ)
  • Dr Jose Heredia Jimenez (University of Granada, Spain)
  • Dr Kevin Deschamps (KU Leuven, Belgium)
  • Dr Ana María de Benito Trigueros (Universidad Católica de Valencia, Spain)
  • Dr Joanne Patterson (University of Newcastle)
  • Dr Catherine Adams (University of Manchester)
  • Alex Mbuli (Napier University, Edinburgh)
  • Dr Hazel Roddam
  • Dr Paula Leslie
  • Dr Siew Li Goh (University of Malaya, Malaysia)
  • Jo-Anne Webb (Rehabilitation for Independence, UK)

Biomechanical Considerations in a Novel Design of Lower Limb Rehabilitation device. Amina Alhawaj (PhD)

An exploration of the factors affecting spinal movement and muscle activity in cyclists with and without lower back pain. Paul Ashworth (MRes)

Aerobic Exercise after Stroke: Perspectives of healthcare, exercise and fitness professionals working in stroke or cardiac rehabilitation. Nicola Gaskins (PhD)

Factors influencing coordinated control of human running. John Kiely (Prof Doc)

An investigation into exercise and exercise progression with patients with patellofemoral pain. Greg Littler (MPhil/PhD)

Nature of voice disorders amongst contact centre operatives and the potential impact of a preventative intervention. Catarina Olim (MPhil/PhD)

Discourse in the management of anxiety in palliative care: impact on clinical practice and outcomes from exploration of Occupational Therapists’ perspectives. Sam Pywell (PhD)

An exploration of the mechanisms for behaviour change (COM-B model) within musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy practice. Gillian Rawlinson (PhD)

Investigating the manipulation of the vasti muscles in patellofemoral pain. Sue Tobin (PhD)

The Effects of Kinesio Taping on Biomechanical and Clinical Outcomes in Runners with Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome. Pongchai Watcharakeunkhan (MPhil/PhD)

Screening for post-stroke dysphagia in Cyprus. Andri Zeniou (MPhil/PhD)

Paula Meredith (MPhil)

Karen May (ProfD)

The Exploration of Tissue Flossing on Neuromuscular Control of the Ankle Joint in Healthy and Chronic Ankle Instability individuals. Jakub Galis (PhD)

External Research Students

The development of clinical protocols in a novel cooling, compression and heating device – Manchester Metropolitan University, UK Olivia Greenhalgh (PhD)

The Evaluation of Biomechanical and Wear Performance of Total Ankle Replacements – University of Leeds, UK James Hopwood (PhD)

Haemarthrosis of the ankle in haemophilia A and B: prevalence, impact and intervention – University of Leeds, UK Richard Wilkins (PhD NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship)

Rose Peel (HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship) - UK

Characterising variation in foot and ankle mechanics using statistical shape modelling and a novel multibody model – University of Leeds, UK Zach Welshman (PhD)

Completed since 2010

2021 David Rochelle PhD: Development of a biomechanical foot and ankle simulator for evaluation of interventions for chronic ankle instability – University of Leeds, UK.

2021 Ivana Hanzlíková PhD: An investigation of the Landing Error Scoring System and clinically assessable sport-related injury risk factors - University of Waikato, New Zealand.

2021 Lauren Haworth PhD: Exploring the impact of different breast support garments amongst larger breasted women with and without non-specific back pain.

2020 Adrienne Day MRes: The physiological and biomechanical effects of a short term e-bikes cycling intervention in Stroke survivors.

2020 Robyn Jones MRes: Does the use of an Orthoglide device improve outcomes post-total knee replacement?

2020 Wolfgang Lackenbauer PhD: Clinical decision-making in Austrian physiotherapy undergraduate students – Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

2020 Elia Mercado Palomino PhD: Simulation Of The Game For A Three-Dimensional Analysis During Block Jump-Landings In Volleyball And Its Possible Implications In Lower Limb Injuries – University of Granada, Spain 

2019 Heather Stewart PhD: The use of portfolios in supporting Continuing Professional Development and employability for physiotherapists.

2019 Zoe Cartwright (Now Posner) PhD: Development and evaluation of staff training to support resilience and wellbeing in a Mental Health setting.

2019 Andreas Liefeith PhD: The role of general motor ability in sport performance

2019 Raul Valldecabres PhD: Analysis of performance factors, on-court movement strategies and injury risks in badminton - Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Mártir, Spain

2019 Paul Boland MRes: An exploration of the barriers and enablers of using electrically assisted bikes (e-bikes) in the development of a stroke intervention for people after stroke

2019 Joshua Jeffreys MRes: Comparison of isokinetic dynamometry and the Nordbord for measures of hamstring functional strength in elite academy footballers

2019 Melissa Sutcliffe PhD: The effect of integrating micro spring technology into running shoes to influence biomechanical parameters and knee pain/comfort scores in recreational runners with knee pain

2019 Bruno Mazuquin PhD: Does early mobilisation after surgical repair of large rotator cuff tears improve biomechanical and clinical outcomes?

2019 Andy Wright MSc (Res): Does stabilization surgery following the first episode of traumatic anterior dislocation influence shoulder kinematics?

2018 Tariq Kwaees, MSc (Res): Exploring the Effects of a Nonmechanical Knee Brace on Lower Limb Kinematics & Kinetics in Healthy Individuals & its Implications for Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee

2017 Caroline Waterworth PhD: An exploration of culture and context for Allied Health Professionals using Care Aims in integrated community teams: A case study approach.

2017 Berj Kishmishian, PhD: The effects of acupuncture and sham acupuncture to the Achilles tendon in Achilles tendinopathy

2017 Lindsay St. George, PhD Electromyographic evaluation of muscle firing patterns in the ridden horse during jumping as an objective method of informing current jump training programmes

2016 Susan Giblin PhD: Enhancing participation and performance in physical activity through primary level physical education - The role of physical literacy.

2016 Gilly Rosic, PhD: Exploring the relationship between fear of falling and physical activity in obese women under 50 years of age

2016 Hayley Vincent, MSc Res: Kinetic and 3D Kinematic analysis of netball movements: with and without prophylactic knee bracing

2015 Steven Lindley, PhD: Neuromuscular and Mechanical Control of the Knee Joint with Patellofemoral Pain

2015 Graham Theobald, PhD: An investigation of the biomechanical efficacy and clinical effectiveness of patellofemoral taping in elite and experienced cyclists

2014 Jenny Stockdale, Prof Doc: Exercise behaviour in ankylosing spondylitis patients on anti-TNF

2014 Erin Morehead, Prof Doc: The Development of a Functional Movement Screening Tool for Football

2014 John Burston, PhD: The kinematic effects of three quarter and full length foot orthoses on anterior knee pain sufferers when walking and descending stairs

2013 Howie Carson, PhD: Working inside the black box: Refinement of pre-existing skills

2013 Puneet Monga, MD: Kinematics of Circumduction in shoulders with anterior instability: A comparison with normal shoulders and the influence of stabilization surgery.

2013 Rob Bailey, PhD: The Role of Clinical Lumbo-Pelvic and Hip Tests in the Examination of Gait

2013 Arlene McCurtin PhD: Deconstructing clinical practice and searching for scientific foundations: Examining decision-making scaffolds underpinning intervention choices by speech and language therapists.

2013 Hilary Cowan PhD: An analysis of mothers’ experiences of the process of assessment and diagnosis of their pre-school child with an autism spectrum disorder.

2013 Karen McLean MRes: Exploring the physiotherapeutic needs of breast cancer patients: A qualitative study of patient experience. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

2012 Jill Alexander, MPhil: Influence of Athletic Spinal Taping on Equine Rider Posture

2012 Sian Parry-Weeks MPhil: Functional benefits of lycra suits in the management of Cerebral Palsy.

2012 Karen Copeland, MSc: Biomechanical testing of a pelvic seating wedge in people with and without lower back pain

2012 Lawrence Protheroe, PhD: An investigation to determine the kinematic variables associated with the production of topspin in the tennis groundstrokes.

2011 Aline Macready, MRes: Advice giving strategies used by Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) to parents of pre-school children with Cerebral Palsy: An exploratory study.

2011 Jeannette Tonks, PhD: Evaluation of short Term conservative treatment in patients with tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis): A prospective randomised, assessor blinded trial.

2011 Sarah Russell, MRes: A Randomised Clinical Trial Investigating The Most Appropriate Conservative Management Of Frozen Shoulder.

2011 Ma Sha, PhD: Upper limb tasks in virtual reality

2010 Dominic Thewlis, PhD: Direct and Indirect Biomechanical Changes during Gait Following Total Knee Arthroplasty

Management of neuromuscular conditions

Current areas of interest include stroke rehabilitation, with research exploring delivery of upper limb interventions, intensity, and aerobic exercise.

We are also involved in the development and use of measurement tools, predictive algorithms (e.g. ) and complex rehabilitation interventions (e.g.).

All our work aims to make a direct difference to patients and focuses on the implementation of research findings into clinical practice. PREP2GRASP

Management of musculoskeletal conditions

This research area focuses on developing novel approaches to evaluating function in healthy and musculoskeletal conditions and examining the effect of surgical and conservative treatments/therapies on function. Through this greater understanding, we strive to improve the treatment of different musculoskeletal conditions by developing novel treatments which may be implemented into clinical settings.

Current areas of interest include improving clinical subgrouping of patients to allow for stratified interventions for increased compliance and responsiveness to treatment.

We have been heavily involved in understanding the clinical subgrouping of patellofemoral patients and the development of mobile phone apps (e.g. ) to allow for improve clinical therapies for individuals with patellofemoral knee pain.

We are also involved in understanding how ankle sprains lead to ankle osteoarthritis. With support from, a collaborative grant UCLAN, University of Leeds and Cardiff University aims to use gait analysis, video fluoroscopy and state of the art multibody modelling to understand ankle function before and after ankle sprains/total ankle replacement surgery. AppatellaOATech+

Development of products that interact with the body

The AHRu offers bespoke biomechanical testing of products and scientific research to assist companies in the development of their products.

This includes helping to modify product design and build an evidence base for products and devices. The team continually strives to create links with the business community offering scientific testing and workshops.

The unit has supported over 50 SME’s through European Regional Development Fund related work, in addition to other commercial contract work and funded research grants that have allowed us to work with larger companies such as (DJO Global, Silentnight and Harrison Spinks).

The implementation of the research evidence base in clinical practice

Implementation is often described as the missing link in the research translation pipeline. This research area focuses on strategies and processes to support clinical teams and individual practitioners to change their practice in an evidence-informed way.

It also encompasses research studies to investigate and evaluate ways in which research-based intervention protocols may be adapted in real world clinical settings; and approaches to measure the acceptability as well as the effectiveness of those interventions.

Implementation Science comprises of a range of frameworks and tools, including stakeholder consultation models and these studies generally require mixed methodology expertise.

Examples of our current and recent implementation science projects include upper limb rehabilitation for post-stroke patients, and speech and language therapy interventions for children with social communication impairments.

Our Movement Analysis Laboratory is one of the top facilities of its type currently in use in Europe.

It is equipped to conduct: advanced motion analysis, force measurement, electromyography, accelerometry, pressure measurement, muscle and strength assessment and thermal imaging. There are also a number of custom made pieces of equipment used in the lab that have been developed with commercial partners.

Find out more about the Movement Analysis Laboratory

Related news

News updates

England footballer backs device created following UCLan and Manchester Metropolitan research 

England footballer Harry Maguire has thrown his support behind a new rehabilitative device – created following research by UCLan and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Harry Maguire is the latest professional footballer to support the device, after Wayne Rooney.

The ProMOTION EV1 is a battery-powered and fully digital portable device that has been manufactured by Swellaway Limited to reduce swelling due to injuries by providing cooling, heating and compression. It provides athletes with the ability to receive treatment at home or while on the move, set precise programmable treatments and capture data through a smartphone app.

UCLan researchers Jill Alexander and Professor Jim Richards have been heavily involved in the research and development phases of the device, alongside Professor James Selfe from Manchester Metropolitan University, as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership sponsored by Swellaway. They conducted rigorous testing on the product and developed treatment protocols using the device to deliver the best treatment response and recovery.

Maguire started using the device earlier this year, after sustaining an ankle injury.

Professor Jim Richards said: “The three way Knowledge Transfer Partnership between Swellaway Limited, UCLan and Manchester Metropolitan University has allowed us to increase the evidence base for the management of injuries such as Harry’s ankle injury. Using the ProMOTION EV1 we were able to deliver a much more precise and targeted treatment to help his recovery”.