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The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Advancing recovery from stroke

In response to government objectives for improving stroke rehabilitation, our researchers have made significant advances in developing and evaluating technologies to aid the recovery of movement and independence. This has directly translated into clinical practice and home use, benefitting patients in many countries.

Making a difference to people's lives
Improving stroke rehabilitation

The challenge

More people are now surviving and living longer following a stroke, putting increasing strain on NHS resources. Traditional one-to-one and technology-led rehabilitation is expensive and therefore there is great interest from practitioners and government in finding more effective and less labour-intensive therapies.


Every year about 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke and approximately one-third require rehabilitation to help them recover movement and independence. From the mid-nineties our team of researchers has investigated how innovative technologies can provide more effective rehabilitation and reduce the burden of stroke on the NHS.

Our research

We began by conducting the first randomised controlled trial of functional electrical stimulation for drop-foot following stroke, which demonstrated improvement in walking and patient benefit.

Our stroke rehabilitation researchers then turned to the problems reported by patients in using this technology and formed collaborations to develop and evaluate a solution.  This led to the first clinical trial of implanted micro-stimulators to improve arm and hand movement in post-stroke patients and an implanted device to help walking.

Since then our team has conducted a series of studies combining electrical stimulation with robot therapy using control algorithms previously only applied to industrial processes. These studies demonstrated both feasibility and improvement in small samples of stroke patients and other research groups worldwide are now developing the idea.  Our work is now progressing to reduce the need for expensive robots and towards development of a low-cost home-based system.


Since our work began over 2,500 therapists have received specialist therapist training in Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) in the UK and abroad. Our stroke rehabilitation research has attracted great media attention, and international clinical and commercial success. The use of FES to assist walking is now incorporated into National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Royal College of Physicians (RCP) Stroke Guidelines.

Our team's stroke rehabilitation research has also practically addressed the need to provide home-based rehabilitation for stroke patients through the development of a website, currently being tested in a clinical trial, aimed at supporting and motivating patients undergoing rehabilitation therapy at home.



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