Experts at the University are carrying out life-changing research into disability sport and exercise, inspired by our role in helping to train elite Paralympic athletes.
We were delighted to be selected by the British Paralympic Association to host the ParalympicsGB squad in the run-up to the Games. This selection was due to the fantastic facilities and the strength of sport research we offer.
As part of the legacy of the Olympics much of this research is now focused on disability sport, exercise and health, with the development of a research Centre of Excellence in this field.
The Centre will bring together interested academics from across campus and will initially host two research fellows and three PhD students, partly supported from the University’s Alumni Fund. We are in the process of equipping a new exercise physiology laboratory specifically for this purpose.
Dr James Bilzon, Head of the Department for Health, will be leading the new Centre for Excellence for DisAbility Sport & Health (DASH), which will translate the findings from our work with Paralympic performance athletes to seek benefits for the wider disabled population including military veterans injured in combat.
This will be a pioneering centre that will bring together, under one roof, research into the different elements of the health and wellbeing of the disabled population.
Hosting the ParalympicGB team gives us the opportunity to take advantage of these positive, high-achieving athletes and engage with them as role models to get the rest of the disabled population involved in physical activity.
— Dr James Bilzon
The centre will harness academic expertise in the areas of Sport & Exercise Science, Regenerative Medicine, Medical Engineering, Health Psychology and beyond, focusing on the following three strands:
Rehabilitating war amputees
Researchers are working closely with the Ministry of Defence to study the rehabilitation of victims from the front line whose injuries have resulted in amputation. Initial studies aim to test different types of prosthetic device and inform evidence-based exercise rehabilitation programmes within an amputee population, to understand the efficiency and effort required to obtain mobility and regain function.
Understanding the physical health of wheelchair users
In a recent report carried out by the Chief Medical Officer it has been highlighted that wheelchair users are four times more likely than able-bodied people to acquire type-2 diabetes and twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. Our researchers are aiming to determine the amount and type of physical activity carried out by manual wheelchair users in the general public in a cutting-edge project that will explore an area of disability sport in which there is little previous research.
Injury prevention in Brazilian elite disability sport
Building on years of research in injury prevention in the able-bodied population, a team at Bath has paired up with the Brazilian Paralympic Committee and Universidade Estadual Campinas in Sao Paulo, to establish the type, nature and incidence of injuries experienced by a range of elite disabled athletes, and to determine a strategy for injury prevention. It is hoped that further work will be conducted with ParalympicsGB teams.