Injury is the leading cause of death for people under 45 years of age. Injuries to the nervous system, such as brain and spinal cord injuries, are particularly devastating – often leading to lifelong disability.
These injuries affect the remaining undamaged nervous system so that even finding how best to make damaged cells regenerate may not be successful in producing functional recovery. Peripheral nerve injury may also lead to chronic “neuropathic” pain which does not respond to current treatments.
Our research includes a range of studies from basic research into the mechanisms of injury, to developing improved treatments for injured people and to developing strategies to prevent injuries.
Our research aims to reduce the burden of injury by identifying implementable and effective countermeasures. We do this by studying the mechanisms of injury at a population level as well as the underlying biomechanical mechanisms of injury, and by studying the factors influencing injury outcome and developing interventions to target these factors. Our work therefore provides the necessary levels of evidence upon which countermeasures, including strategic injury prevention policies can be developed.
Research primarily comprises a range of studies related to the function of tactile receptors in the fingertip skin and sensorimotor control of human hand. However, the ultimate goal is to use this fundamental knowledge and foster two branches of collaborative networks - one with clinicians, and the second branch would be aimed at working with biomedical engineers.
Our human neurophysiology group specialises in invasive recordings from peripheral nerves in awake human subjects, via fine microelectrodes inserted through the skin (microneurography). We study how individual sensory endings in muscle and skin encode forces and displacements. We also record muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) and couple this with concurrent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify cortical and subcortical sites involved in the control of blood pressure in health and disease. We also undertake fMRI studies to identify cortical and subcortical structures involved in the processing of muscle pain.
We are interested in how the soft tissues of the body respond to and are influenced by mechanical loading. Mechanical loading is essential for tissue growth, function and maintenance, but excessive forces can result in dysfunction or injury. Our research spans basic research in tissue mechanics to applied studies in traumatic injury prevention and obstructive sleep apnoea.