The Design Simulation Research Centre (DSRC) in the School of DEC won the Vice-Chancellor’s award for the best research/enterprise project. The research, led by Prof Siamak Noroozi, Dr Philip Sewell and Bryce Dyer, is detailed below.
Members of the DSRC have used the results of previous research, funded by EPSRC and the medical charity REMEDI, to develop a research collaboration with Chas A Blatchford & Sons Ltd, the UKs leading prosthetics supplier. This has resulted in the team being awarded an EPSRC CASE Award (£86k) to design and develop a ‘Smart Socket’ to provide lower-limb amputees with increased mobility and improved quality of life. This collaboration has also led to the development of research to evaluate the performance of prostheses used by athletes in elite sport.
The underlying technology developed has other applications in civil, aerospace and marine engineering resulting in the initiation of two research projects with BAE Systems (PhD matched-funding – £26k and an EPSRC CASE Award – £95k).
IP rights have been negotiated with both companies meaning that a proportion of the income generated form any products developed will come to BU.
The research into the ‘smart socket’ and prosthetics fit has seen widespread public interest as the socket will help soldiers returning to active duty who had been injured in combat. This has resulted in the following publications in the international press:
– Soldiers could get back to active duty with the help of a ‘smart’ prosthesis” was published in the Guardian, January 2011.
– Ahhh…Comfort! UK Research Takes Next Generation “Smart Limb” to New Level” was published in the International Magazine OandP Edge (Vol. 9, No. 5), May 2010.
– Amputee mobility fix is socket science” was published in the Engineer, February 2010.
The parallel stream of research in the ethical use of sports prostheses saw one of its researchers invited to join the International Paralympic Commitee Sports Equipment Working Group. This advises on legislation of equipment used by athletes at the Paralympic Games. Along with this, invitations in this area resulted in several keynote speeches on the centre’s research at international conferences in both Germany and Spain during 2010. The team won the research prize at the Paralympics GB National Conference based on this research.
The findings from both projects and the resultant innovations will inform an area which has seen little attention historically. As a result of this research the team was nominated for ‘Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards in 2010.
The research into prosthetics fit and the smart socket will potentially transfer into widespread practitioner health practise through Blatchford’s 30 UK prosthetic centres. As a result this will influence how amputees are rehabilitated both from treatment within the NHS but also specialised private clinics such as Headley Court which addresses military personnel both retired or seeking return to service.
The research into the prostheses in sport has resulted in across school collaboration between DEC and the School of Tourism. This relationship investigated novel ways of assessing amputee motion. One of the researchers was invited to join a working group within the International Paralympic Committee which will help inform the sports stakeholders and the wider community ahead of the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Congratulations to the Design Simulation Research Centre! 😀