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The University of Southampton
Health SciencesOur research

Assessment, Rehabilitation and Movement (ARM) Project Cluster

The ability to use the arm and hand is fundamental to human behaviour in everyday life, work, recreation and communication. The hand occupies a disproportionately large area of both the sensory and motor cortices reflecting the fine control required to perform movements that healthy people take for granted.


Arm and hand function can be impaired due to disease or injury to either the musculoskeletal or the nervous system and our research extends across both. Our research falls into two categories.

Research into the understanding the mechanisms associated with normal and impaired function and recovery. We aim to advance understanding from both biomechanical perspectives (kinematic analysis) and neurophysiological perspectives (using techniques such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) to investigate muscle activation patterns and synergies.

Research in the development, evaluation and translation into clinical practice of novel technologies in the treatment of arm and hand dysfunction.

Clinically our research focuses on diseases of the central nervous system especially stroke, musculoskeletal conditions such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis – where projects overlap with the musculoskeletal research cluster - and limb loss, especially in children.

Research Approaches

Almost all our research is multidisciplinary and involves collaboration with control, signal processing, biomechanical and sensor engineering, health psychology, medical sociology, and health economics. A strong driver for our research is the need for cost-effective practical technologies to improve rehabilitation. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques are used, with mixed methods being essential from technology innovation through clinical trials to translation into clinical practice and commercial exploitation.


Within the University of Southampton, ARM research in the Faculty of Health Sciences has cross faculty links with Electronics and Computer Science, the Institute of Sound and vibration Research and the School of Psychology. We also have strong links with national and international universities: University of Twente, the Technical University of Zurich (ETHZ) and Schola Superior Santa Anna in Pisa and UK Universities: Strathclyde, Oxford, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Sheffield Hallam, University of East Anglia, Keele, Dundee and Sussex.


ARM hosts a University business enterprise selling and hiring the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP). SHAP is a validated and reliable outcome measure for assessing hand function. Originally designed to assess the efficacy of upper limb prosthetics, SHAP has also been used to assess hand function impairment resulting from neurological and musculoskeletal conditions.

Health Technologies

We are recognised internationally for technological developments and innovative applications in; Motion analysis (research into normal and impaired functional movement by accurate measurement using state-of-the-art techniques); Functional Electrical Stimulation (implanted and surface stimulation techniques and integration with other modalities such as robot therapy); World leading research into rehabilitation robotics; Prosthetics and Orthotics (effectiveness studies of splints for hand arthritis and clinical studies into innovative new developments); Haptics (ground-breaking research into design and evaluation of novel biomedical sensors to aid rehabilitation); Impairment measures for research and clinical practice (development of novel tools and analysis techniques to understand the mechanisms of sensory motor control of the arm and hand); Usability and user informed design (Understanding patients, carers and health professionals experiences and perceptions of novel and existing technologies).

Investigating arm function
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