World’s biggest innovation centre for population health opens in Sheffield

Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre will drive development of world-class innovations that increase physical activity and improve wellbeing

The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre brings academics together with innovators to develop new solutions to increasing physical activity and enhancing wellbeing

The world’s-most-advanced research centre for developing innovations that will increase physical activity and improve population health has opened by Sheffield Hallam University.

The new multi-million-pound Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) is supported by several strategic partners to provide cutting-edge equipment and technology, expertise in the health sector, and research and development opportunities.

Its development has been supported by £14m of funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and a £905,000 investment from the European Regional Development Fund.

Our mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through world-class research into physical activity. This will mean re-engineering movement back into our lives, which requires a radical rethink in the way we live, work, manage and monitor our health

It is located in the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and has a mission to prevent and treat chronic disease through co-designed research into physical activity.

Canon Medical Systems is providing a diagnostic ultrasound system to the AWRC to help gain an insight into health and wellbeing issues, ranging from performance management of elite athletes to the rehabilitation of stroke patients and the health of older people.

For example, the system is being used to explore the effectiveness of power-assisted exercises in the rehabilitation of stroke patients that can improve muscle mass and strength.

Professor Robert Copeland, director of the AWRC, said: “Our mission is to prevent and treat chronic disease through world-class research into physical activity.

“This will mean re-engineering movement back into our lives, which requires a radical rethink in the way we live, work, manage and monitor our health, and the way we travel around our towns and cities.

“This mission can’t be achieved by a single agency or discipline, and the opening of the AWRC marks the start of an exciting collaborative journey.

The centre features ultrasound technology from Canon Medical Systems, which will be used to gauge the performance of athletes and help to rehabilitate stroke patients

“By bringing together academic expertise from across Sheffield Hallam University within this world-class facility, and creating meaningful partnerships with industry, local communities, local authorities and the health and technology sector; we will address the social, behavioural and economic determinants of health, creating equitable and active communities for all.”

Mark Hitchman, managing director at Canon Medical Systems UK, added: “We are inspired by the research and innovation work underway at AWRC.

By bringing together academic expertise from across Sheffield Hallam University within this world-class facility, and creating meaningful partnerships with industry, local communities, local authorities and the health and technology sector; we will address the social, behavioural and economic determinants of health, creating equitable and active communities for all

“Using our diagnostic ultrasound systems the teams are able to push the boundaries of what we currently know about the human body and find new ways to help prevent sports injuries, rehabilitate people with chronic illness, and make us all fighting fit as our bodies age. ”

And Dr Tom Maden-Wilkinson, a lecturer in health and wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The projects will help us understand a range of issues related to muscle strength – from strength training in older adults to help maintain their independence, to elite athletes and efficiency or injury prevention.

“The Canon Medical ultrasound is providing us with technology to take huge strides in examining the relationship between muscles, exercise and recovery.”

Other AWRC strategic collaborations include Westfield Health, EXOS, the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine in Sheffield, Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity, Ingesport, and parkrun.

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