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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 movement assessment and user needs for innovative flexible rehabilitation technologies as well as their wider ethical, legal and societal implications, focussing on trust. She has used these to lead engineering design and evaluation of technologies, and assessment and development of international guidelines. These skills have also 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.

Her research has evolved from manual to instrumented movement assessment and the development, application and user perspectives of novel technologies primarily to improve arm and trunk movement for people with mainly neurological conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis. These technologies have included Electrical Stimulation (ES), Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation (NIBS), Wearable and Rehabilitation Robotics, Telerehabilitation, Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT), and Movement Sensors.

In recent years, her work has focussed increasingly on flexible technologies, capable of being used both in clinics and in the home environment, as well as the use of big data and algorithms within the field.  Her interests extend to the ethical, legal and societal implications of these types of technologies. Dr Hughes contributes on a regular basis to the Royal College of Physicians UK Stroke Guidelines.

Her work is international and transdisciplinary and has been facilitated by her diverse background with a PhD in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, an MSc in Information Systems, and a BSc and clinical experience in Physiotherapy (specialising in neurology). She led a European grant to develop an MSc in Advanced Rehabilitation Technologies with 10 European Universities across Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Rumania, Scotland and Switzerland. The programme is now being run in Paris and will start in Milan in 2020.


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 areas of my work can be categorised into the following subjects:

  • Movement assessment
  • The development, application and evaluation of novel rehabilitation technologies
  • The ethical, legal and societal implications of novel rehabilitation technologies

Current PhDs

“Hand function in Palestinian people with Rheumatoid Arthritis”
Hisham Arab Alkabeya
Dr J Adams, Dr A Hughes
Funder: Palestinian Government

“Trunk training exercises using video games for people with chronic stroke”
Norah Alhwoaimel
Dr A Hughes, Dr Ruth Turk
Funder: Saudi Government

“Development of LifeCIT for patients following Traumatic Brain Injury: An interactive web-based programme to support independent rehabilitation”
Hannah Marshall
Prof J Burridge, Dr A Hughes
Funder: Ministry of Defence

“Sensors for stroke rehabilitation“
Claire Meagher
Dr A Hughes, Prof J Burridge

Research project(s)


SMARTmove is a project which brings together a multidisciplinary team with expertise in functional materials, direct printing fabrication, control algorithms, wireless electronics, sensors, and end user engagement to address stroke rehabilitation. Working together with the advisory board members from six institutions, we will deliver a personalised wearable device for home-based 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

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

The study developed 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.

Shimmer Sensors for activity monitoring in post stroke upper limb rehabilitation

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

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.

Research group

Active Living for Health

Research theme

Active Living

Research project(s)

Trustworthy Autonomous Systems



  • Registered EU reviewer
  • Influenced strategic developments and shaped policy in rehabilitation technology research through membership of EU Cost Actions, co-authorship of the consensus statement “Outcome measures for use in Rehabilitation Technologies” and the upcoming European evidence-based recommendations for clinical assessment of upper limb in neurorehabilitation, and steering committee membership of the International Consortium Of Rehabilitation Robotics and International Industry Society of Advanced Rehabilitation Technologies.


  • Influenced national guidelines through contributions to the UK Intercollegiate Working Party for Stroke RCP Guidelines 2012, 2016.
  • Influenced decisions through my previous positions in the 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.
  • Influenced through my previous positions in Southampton Neurosciences Group (steering committee) and Institute for Life Sciences (member).

Within the FoHS

  • Influenced research through previous leadership 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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Book Chapters


I am motivated to deliver high quality research-led education.

TeamModule codeModule/Programme TitleRole
All UG in school HSGM2001 Research Methods (Level 5) Profession Lead, Project supervisor
  HSGM3001 Research Project for AHPs (Level 6) Profession Lead, Project supervisor
Other (UG) ISVR6144 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Lecturer
PG in school HSGM6001 Critical enquiry – research protocol Project supervisor
Dr Ann-Marie Hughes
School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences (FELS), Highfield Campus, Southampton. SO17 1BJ
Room Number: 67/4003

Room Number : 67/4003

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