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. It pursues these goals by performing basic and applied research; drawing upon the wide range of research methodological expertise in our group. One of these aspects is 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 research questions. Research spans the innovation pathway; from intervention development, evaluation and 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.
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:
The international impact of the work from our research group includes influencing changes for relevant patient groups in the following ways:
Our effective knowledge transfer has been achieved through:
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.
Associated UCLan Staff
Dr David Rhodes
Dr Paula Leslie
Dr Kathryn Jarvis
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)
Amina Alhawaj (PhD) Biomechanical Considerations in a Novel Design of Lower Limb Rehabilitation device
Paul Ashworth (MRes) An exploration of the factors affecting spinal movement and muscle activity in cyclists with and without lower back pain
Gina Carey (PhD) Should I take disease modifying treatment for my relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis? An investigation of patient reported perceptions of risks, preferences for information, treatment goals and expectations during the decision making process.
Adrienne Day (MRes) The physiological and biomechanical effects of a short term e-bikes cycling intervention in Stroke survivors
Nicola Gaskins (MPhil) Aerobic Exercise after Stroke: Perspectives of healthcare, exercise and fitness professionals working in stroke or cardiac rehabilitation
BoWen Han (PhD) Multi-modality biological signal processing and analysis for assessment of knee joint stability
Lauren Haworth (PhD) Can we offer biomechanical support for larger breasted women with back pain?
Robyn Jones (MRes) Does the use of an Orthoglide device improve outcomes post-total knee replacement?
John Kiely (Prof Doc) Factors influencing coordinated control of human running
Greg Littler (MPhil/PhD) An investigation into exercise and exercise progression with patients with patellofemoral pain
Catarina Olim (MPhil/PhD) Nature of voice disorders amongst contact centre operatives and the potential impact of a preventative intervention
Zoe Posner PhD: Development and evaluation of staff training to support resilience and wellbeing in a Mental Health setting
Sam Pywell (PhD) Discourse in the management of anxiety in palliative care: impact on clinical practice and outcomes from exploration of Occupational Therapists’ perspectives
Gillian Rawlinson (PhD) An exploration of the mechanisms for behaviour change (COM-B model) within musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy practice.
Hannah Shore (MPhil) Biomechanical performance testing of sleep surfaces: Can we create the ideal sleep solution?
Heather Stewart (PhD) The use of portfolios in supporting Continuing Professional Development and employability for physiotherapists
Sue Tobin (PhD) Investigating the manipulation of the vasti muscles in patellofemoral pain.
Pongchai Watcharakeunkhan (MPhil/PhD) The Effects of Kinesio Taping on Biomechanical and Clinical Outcomes in Runners with Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome
Andri Zeniou (MPhil/PhD) Screening for post-stroke dysphagia in Cyprus
External Research Students
Olivia Greenhalgh (PhD) The development of clinical protocols in a novel cooling, compression and heating device – Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Ivana Hanzlíková (PhD) The Development and Testing of a Modified Landing Error Scoring System - University of Waikato, New Zealand
James Hopwood (PhD) The Evaluation of Biomechanical and Wear Performance of Total Ankle Replacements – University of Leeds, UK
Richard Wilkins (PhD NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship) Haemarthrosis of the ankle in haemophilia A and B: prevalence, impact and intervention – University of Leeds, UK
Wolfgang Lackenbauer (PhD) Clinical decision-making in Austrian physiotherapy undergraduate students – Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Elia Mercado Palomino (PhD) – University of Granada, Spain
Rose Peel (HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship), UK
Sarah Plant (The Stroke Association Post-Graduate Fellowship) The development of a goal-setting tool for use during acute stroke rehabilitation: the Goal-setting Implementation in Stroke Tool (GIST), UK
David Rochelle (PhD) Development of a biomechanical foot and ankle simulator for evaluation of interventions for chronic ankle instability – University of Leeds, UK
Zach Welshman (PhD) Characterising variation in foot and ankle mechanics using statistical shape modelling and a novel multibody model – University of Leeds, UK
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 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 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 Berj Kishmishian, PhD: The effects of acupuncture and sham acupuncture to the Achilles tendon in Achilles tendinopathy
2016 Susan Giblin, PhD: Enhancing participation and performance in physical activity through primary level physical education- The role of physical literacy. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.
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
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
2013 Howie Carson, PhD: Working inside the black box: Refinement of pre-existing skills
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 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
2011 Ma Sha, PhD: Upper limb tasks in virtual reality
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For further information about the Allied Health Research Unit, please contact:
Professor Jim Richards
School of Sport and Health Sciences
Brook Building, Room BB118
University of Central Lancashire
Tel: +44 (0) 1772 89 4575
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. PREP2) and complex rehabilitation interventions (e.g. GRASP). All our work aims to make a direct difference to patients and focuses on the implementation of research findings into clinical practice.
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. Appatella) 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 OATech+, 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.
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.