Our research group is interested in the evolution, function and biomechanics of the locomotor, masticatory, visual and vestibulocochlear apparatus.
We are leaders in the application of engineering techniques such as forwards and inverse dynamic modelling and finite elements stress analysis to understanding locomotor and masticatory function, and have developed our own cutting edge software, including recently pSPM for topographical statistical analysis of landmark free phenomena such as foot pressure distributions. Our major funding has come from NERC, BBSRC, EPSRC, The Leverhulme Trust, and STFC (NW Grid).
About our research
Ageing is associated with several conditions which affect the mechanics of the human musculoskeletal system, including diabetes and osteoarthritis, and decline in cognitive and locomotor capabilities greatly increase risk of falling. Our companion animals, too, are subject to conditions which affect their ability to move normally, some the result of breed standards which focus on desired physical attributes rather than wellbeing and health. We are addressing each of these, and even the effects of environmental factors such as footwear and pedestrian crossing design.
Our research focuses on musculoskeletal functioning at the whole-body level. By doing so, we build on the expertise of our colleagues at the Institute of Ageing and Chronic disease who focus on underlying organisational levels, from molecules to tissues and organs.
We work on humans but also on other animals – either as models or for their own merit. We strongly believe that, in many cases, a comparative and evolutionary approach is necessary to help us understand how healthy bodies work. Such fundamental understanding is required to fully understand (dis)functioning, in particular as a result of ageing and chronic disease. We study a variety of topics from fundamental to more applied. For examples of current projects see our Projects page [link to “projects” page].
Our group uses experimental and modelling approaches as appropriate. Our gait lab is fully equipped with motion capture systems, force plates and additional techniques including electromyography, inertial sensors and isokinetic muscle testing. We also house the CIMA/MRC biplanar X-Ray facilities. For modelling, we use 3D shape reconstruction based on medical imaging and a variety of modelling techniques (including link-segment, finite element and evolutionary robotics).
Figure 1: Visual3D human gait measurements (kinematics and force plates)
Figure 2: (Left) 3D skeletal and volumetric model of an American alligator. (Right) Multi-body dynamics model of an American alligator hindlimb.