cwill-amlot-9278Amputees are being called to take part in extensive new research into movement and health at the University of Roehampton.

New research has been commissioned to help understand and improve movement for unilateral (one-sided) below-the-knee amputees. Dr Neale Tillin and Dr Siobhan Strike from the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton are supervising PhD students to gain insight into how the leg muscles of below-the-knee amputees function, and how this effects amputee movement and coordination. This research has the potential to provide new interventions to improve amputee movement and health, as well as new insights into muscle disuse and disease.

Previous research has shown that people with unilateral amputations completely change their movement pattern which impacts balance, confidence in their movement, as well as confidence in sporting activity. It is often found that increased pressure is stressed on the in-tact limb, predisposing amputees to joint disease on the intact-side and muscle and bone wastage in the amputated limb.

The team at Roehampton will conduct research to fully understand how amputees move and how their able-bodied counterparts move by comparing their motions in walking, running, stepping and jumping. As well as movement, comparisons will be made in muscle strength and muscle activity.

The movement information gathered will be analysed, understanding how participants coordinate their limbs, and examine how muscle strength and motion are related. This will help to develop and create exercises and movement patterns designed to prevent health issues and ensure a better quality of life.

 “The most recent reports (2011) show that there are around 3,000 below-the-knee amputations in the UK each year, and yet there is very little research exploring the effects this has on their muscle function and movement patterns” explains Dr Tillin. “This research will give us a deeper understanding of how amputation affects muscle function, and how this relates to changes in movement and coordination, helping to reduce the risk of dilapidating diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

 “It will also guide and inform research for other groups who might be more prone to muscle-waste problems, like the elderly or those with a heavily sedentary lifestyle.”

 Researchers at the University are currently recruiting unilateral below-the-knee (trans-tibial) amputees aged between 20 and 45 years. The project will last three years, with participants asked to visit the laboratory on three occasions for two-three hours a time. For more information please contact Dr Neale Tillin (Neale.tillin@roehampton.ac.uk; 02083923542) or Dr Siobhan Strike (S.Strike@Roehampton.ac.uk; 02083923546).