Our core research areas are shown below, with case studies of current or past projects for each.
The proximal-inter-phalangeal (PIP) joint (finger joint in the hand) is often the site of major trauma in car accidents and other incidents where the joint is crushed and requires intervention in order to stretch it back out. In collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons from the NHS, we have developed a prototype device which we believe has many advantages over current devices.
Recent developments in Orthopaedic fixation have led to the wide scale adoption of locking plates and screws for the treatment and repair of fractured bones. Currently available screws were designed primarily for healthy bone. Research Aim –To explore new screw designs that may mitigate, or reduce incidence of, problems associated with surgical screws in osteoporotic bone. In collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons from the NHS, we have designed and performed preliminary testing on a new screw design with better holding power.
External fracture fixation employs the use of pins which pass through the skin, muscle and bone and attach to bars or rings on the outside the body. The pin site (where the pin enters the skin) often becomes infected. We are using computer modelling, developing in vitro models and using sensors on the skin to look at the movement of the pins in the skin and how this may relate to infection rates.
An ageing and active population has lead to an increase in the replacement of joints in the human body. Elbow joint replacements have many advantages to the patient, but failure can occur due to loosening and infection. We are developing a methodology using robotics and kinematics to test elbow replacements as if they were in the human body. This allows better investigation into the failure mechanisms of the implants and therefore improvements in the design.
This project looks into the use of 3-D cell culture to model the human airways and to consider the effects of traditional and electronic smoking products. The primary aim is to develop a machine which will mimic the volumes and timings of a smoking adult human. It will subsequently be used to test the response of cultured human airway cells to the breathing of normal air, standard cigarettes and the new e-cigarettes.
Smart sensing systems that integrate the latest signal processing techniques with IT tools to automatically interpret time series data and output information in a form suited to clinical use need to support the busy practice of medicine. Increased throughput of patients will widen access to the processes of screening, diagnostics and therapy. In all cases, a smart sensing system needs to discriminate the possible series of conditions related to the application range. Sensors should be mechanically simple and robust to suit the arduous medical working environment while also being cost-effective through enabling staff to work efficiently.
Micro-technologies in the form of MEMS have made an impact on solutions for active sensing in healthcare and other application fields. Capitalising on this technology and combining novel sensing and signal processing technologies, the research group aim to produce advanced information sensors capable of outputting information and discriminating measurements on a sub-micron basis. The techniques will combine novel sensing methods, MEMS and Nanotechnology. Working at this scale to discriminate distributive cell behaviour, characteristics and structure will enable greater understanding of cell processes and offer the opportunity to radically improve healthcare.