The Centre of Excellence for DisAbility Sport & Health (DASH) is part of the legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and has been inspired by the University’s role in helping to train elite Paralympic athletes at its Sports Training Village.

The new Centre, which is being officially launched tonight in London by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Kevin Edge, will harness academic expertise in the areas of Sport & Exercise Science, Regenerative Medicine, Medical Engineering, Health Psychology and beyond.

The aim is to use the findings from work with Paralympic performance athletes to seek benefits for the wider disabled population including military veterans injured in combat.

Research from the Centre will focus on three key areas:

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 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.

The Centre will bring together interested academics from across the University and will initially host two research fellows and three PhD students, partly supported by two six figure gifts from alumni and friends of the University.

The University is 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 CentreHe said: “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 has given 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.”