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The University of Southampton
Active Living

Movement dysfunction mechanisms and exercise interventions

Led by Prof Maria Stokes.

The ultimate aim of our musculoskeletal dysfunction research is to enable active living and healthy ageing, whilst minimising the limitations caused by musculoskeletal conditions.

A key feature of our exercise research is its sound multidisciplinary base, primarily involving health and engineering disciplines, and patient and public involvement at all stages of projects. Research approaches include:

It is important to understand the mechanisms of normal musculoskeletal function, dysfunction and recovery (biomechanics of movement and physiology of motor control) to inform development of interventions.

Dr Martin Warner, Senior Research Fellow in Biomechanics, plays a key role in this aspect of the exercise research programme, primarily though his role in the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis.

Another important area of this exercise research programme is developing accurate assessment tools for research and clinical practice, establishing validity and reliability. Two examples are measuring muscle characteristics using ultrasound imaging, and measuring muscle tone and biomechanical properties using Myoton technology.  Exercise interventions are being developed for prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions, such as back, hip, knee, shoulder and hand pain. Populations studied span both the age spectrum (adolescents to older people) and the activity spectrum (elite athletes to the deconditioned and frail).

Prevention of premature frailty in older people is led by Dr Dinesh Samuel.  Deconditioning from best rest studies is relevant to ageing and weightlessness in space. Prof Stokes is Chair of a European Space Agency Topical Team on ‘Exercise after Space' for rehabilitation of astronauts after long-term space flight. 

Stay active aids healthy ageing

Maria Stokes

Professor Stokes was awarded a Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Fellowship in 2013, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to research within the physiotherapy profession.

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