Research conducted at the Centre for Living impacts the lives of communities and individuals in a variety of ways. One area of research activity is musculoskeletal health, covering degenerative and inflammatory joint diseases and other chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes.

An interdisciplinary team of health professionals, bioengineers and human movement scientists undertakes applied health research with the goal of developing interventions that target the right treatment for the right patient at the right stage of their condition. The group has a strong profile of external research funding and international collaborators in academia, SMEs and industry.

The A-FOOTPRINT project, led by GCU and funded by the European Commission, looked to develop novel and highly personalised ankle/foot and foot orthoses exploiting new capabilities with 3D printing technologies.

The findings led to the adoption of new 3D manufacturing processes in an SME pilot factory and production and commercialisation of new orthotic products. Centre researchers have since gained further funding for additional projects aimed at developing novel orthotic interventions, for example, for people with diabetes at high risk of foot ulceration and amputation, in collaboration with Washington University in Seattle.

Disabling foot and ankle conditions affect approximately 200 million European citizens. Over £230m per annum is spent treating many of these people with orthoses and splints,

GCU’s research through the £3m EU-funded A-Footprint project has beneficially impacted on patients’ health and wellbeing as new 3D-printed orthoses have been designed and produced, as well as helping to enhance the reputation of the institution through the achievement of ‘Flagship’ project status by the European Commission.

The University has subsequently been awarded the £3.6m KNEEMO project, one of Europe’s largest ever investigations into the diagnosis and treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis, a painful condition which affects around 500,000 people in Scotland, including one in five people over the age of 50.

As well as producing commercially available foot orthotics, and cementing long-term research partnerships with commercial collaborators and universities, A-footprint has significantly enhanced GCU’s standing in the international musculoskeletal heath research field. The team has secured research grants from the EU and UK to support this work totalling more than £7m since the start of the A-footprint project.

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