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The University of Southampton
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Dr. Ann-Marie Hughes PhD, MSc, PGDip, BSc

Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Visiting Research Fellowship Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering

Dr. Ann-Marie Hughes's photo

Dr. Ann-Marie Hughes is an Associate Professor within the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton. Ann-Marie’s research streams are centred on her understanding of user needs, which she has used to lead engineering design and clinical evaluation of novel technologies including Robotics, Functional Electrical Stimulation, Internet-based motivational rehabilitation and Non-invasive brain stimulation. This has driven the design of multidisciplinary, research-led education and stakeholder engagement.



My driving interest is to optimise rehabilitation for people through the development and application of novel technologies.

My research involves the development, application and user perspectives of novel technologies primarily to improve arm and trunk movement for people with neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis.

These technologies include Electrical Stimulation (ES), Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS), Rehabilitation Robotics, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT), and Movement Sensors.

Much of my work also involves working with researchers from different countries and all my research is transdisciplinary (working with people from electronics & computer science, signal processing and health psychology departments). Working with these different groups has been facilitated by my background. My PhD was awarded in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, my MSc in Information Systems, and my BSc and clinical experience has been in Physiotherapy (specialising in neurology).

My interest in working with these groups led to a European grant to develop an MSc in Advanced Rehabilitation Technologies ( This project involved 10 other Universities within Europe in Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Rumania, Scotland and Switzerland.

I contribute on a regular basis to the Royal College of Physicians UK Stroke Guidelines.


2015 Mechatronics Best Paper Prize

2013 IEEE Control Systems Magazine Outstanding Paper Award

2009 Prize for best paper at the International Rehabilitation Robotics Conference (ICORR) Kyoto, Japan

Research interests

The main themes of my work are the 1) development 2) application and 3) clinical effectiveness of novel technologies (including Functional Electrical Stimulation, Rehabilitation robotics, Non Invasive Brain Stimulation, and sensors) for rehabilitation.

Development: I have worked on projects which seek to understand patients and carers, and healthcare perceptions of new technologies (ATRAS), in addition to working with engineers and psychologists to develop them (MRC project, Motivating Mobility, LifeCIT and the Instrumented Stump Sock).
Application: I am working on small scales trials to determine factors which affect the optimum application of the technologies (Combining transcranial direct current stimulation with robotic training, LifeCit, Objective-based Iterative Learning Control and the Shimmer Sensors).
All of my research is trans-disciplinary involving electronics & computer science, signal processing and health psychology. My PhD investigated re-educating upper limb movement post stroke using iterative learning control mediated by electrical stimulation.

Current projects: MRC /


Research group

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Research project(s)

Combining transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) with robotic hand training for the severely impaired hand after stroke

The aim of this study is to examine the effect of combining transcranial direct current stimulation with robotic hand and arm training for the impaired hand and arm after stroke.

Using functional electrical stimulation mediated by iterative learning control and robotics to improve arm movement for people with Multiple Sclerosis (PwMS)

  When you repeatedly practice a skill or movement, such as lifting your arm, you become better at it due to new nerve connections being made within your brain. When a person affected by MS develops upper limb weakness this is due to some of the nerves that connect their arm muscles to their brain becoming damaged so that they may have limited arm movement or none at all.   Consequently they cannot practice lifting their arm to reach and so their arm muscles get weaker.  In this research we are using a model previously used in stroke patients where nerves within the arm are electrically stimulating so that the person can practice arm movement.  They will do this by resting their arm in a robot and having their two main muscles around the shoulder electrically stimulated so that they can practice reaching movements.  The robot removes the weight of the arm and the functional electrical stimulation (FES) makes the arm muscles work.  What is particularly good is that the amount of electrical stimulation is adjusted so that just the right amount of stimulation can be delivered according to the person's need.  This stimulation level is based on the person's previous reaching movement and includes the correction of any errors made.  This process is called Iterative Learning Control (ILC) which is widely used in industry e.g. putting lids on bottles.  It has also been used to help stroke patients recover their movement with good results. In this research project engineers, therapists and psychologists will work together to apply the system and test it on people with MS.  

Development of an integrated service model incorporating innovative technology for the rehabilitation of the upper limb following stroke, (Assistive Technologies in Rehabilitation Following Stroke (ATRAS)

This programme of research seeks to significantly improve rehabilitation of the hand and arm following a stroke by investigating the use of assistive technologies to maximise recovery of function.

Development and pilot evaluation of a web-supported programme of Constraint Induced Therapy following stroke (LifeCIT)

The aim of this study is to develop a web-based therapy programme (‘LifeCIT’) to support patients carrying out Constraint Induced Therapy at home (with their carer where possible) with online therapist support.

Motivating Mobility: Interactive Systems to promote Physical Activity and Leisure for people with limited mobility - Dormant

This multi-centre interdisciplinary project seeks to explore how best to use novel arrangements of interactive and communication technologies for recovery of upper limb function post-stroke.

Instrumented Stump Sock for Measuring Pressure at the Stump/Sock Interface

This project was funded by the Ministry of Defense and the aim was to investigate the pressure at the sock/stump interface. In addition to interface pressure, we also measured 3D motion, EMG and a number of standardised functional outcome measurements for the lower limb. A major outcome of this project was a systematic review of the factors associated with prosthetic prescription in transtibial and transfemoral amputees.

Shimmer Sensors for activity monitoring in post stroke upper limb rehabilitation

Development and validation of a reliable instrumented version of Trunk Impairment Scale

Research into improving the assessment of how well someone can move their trunk after a stroke, with the use of wearable sensors.

Feasibility of trunk training post stroke using video games



  • Registered EU reviewer
  • Influenced strategic developments and shaped policy in rehabilitation technology research through membership of the EU cost action, co-authorship of the up-coming consensus statement (Outcome measures for use in Rehabilitation Technologies), and steering committee membership of International Consortium Of Rehabilitation Robotics and International Industry Society of Advanced Rehabilitation Technologies.


  • Influencing national guidelines through contributions to the UK Intercollegiate Working Party for Stroke RCP Guidelines 2016.
  • Influencing decisions through my positions in MS Society (grant review panel), and for the BBSRC and Medical Research Council Training Fellowship Applications (grant reviewer).
  • Via peer review of grant proposals for the HTA and charities I am influencing research in my field. Leading change and influencing clinical practice in rehabilitation is fundamental to my work and I achieve this through dissemination of my research findings in my field and speaking at national and international conferences, as well as running local CPD events.

Within the University:

  • Establishing a portfolio of research and education projects through the Active Living Rehabilitation research programme which strengthen links between faculties especially FEE and FPSE, and leading European and international universities.
  • Influencing through my positions in Southampton Neurosciences Group (steering committee) and Institute for Life Sciences (member).

Within the FoHS

  • Influencing research through membership of the Faculty Ethics Committee.
  • Contributing to the internationalism, staff development and research agendas.
  • Co-organising international visits/Distinguished Lectureship series.
  • Represented the Faculty in the Wessex MS Professionals Forum.



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I am motivated to deliver high quality research-led education. My focus is on international transdisciplinary, post graduate education. As part of this I led a complex grant involving a team of 10 European Universities, funded by the EU Lifelong learning programme Multilateral Projects, to develop a European MSc in Advanced Rehabilitation Technologies (

I currently am module co-ordinator for level 5 undergraduate students on Research Methods.

I also supervise MPhil/PhD students for their research dissertations, and MSc & BSc students for their research modules.



Dr. Ann-Marie Hughes
Health Sciences, Student Office, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 67/4003

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