Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre opens to develop world-class innovations that increase physical activity & improve population health

Diagnostic ultrasound from Canon Medical deployed for sports, stroke & ageing projects

The most advanced research centre in the world for developing innovations that will increase physical activity and improve population health has been officially opened by Sheffield Hallam University. The new multi-million pound Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) is supported by several strategic partners including Canon Medical Systems to provide cutting-edge equipment and technology, expertise in the health sector, and research and development opportunities.

The AWRC has been supported by £14m of funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and a £905k investment from the European Regional Development Fund. 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. It was officially opened by the Active Travel Commissioner for Sheffield City Region and Britain’s most successful Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey.

Canon Medical 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 stoke patients and the health of older people. For example, the Canon Medical ultrasound 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, states, “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 re-think in the way we live, work, manage and monitor our health, and 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. 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 states, “We are inspired by the research and innovation work underway at AWRC. 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.”

Dr Tom Maden-Wilkinson, Lecturer, Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University states, “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.

Photo caption: Left to right: Ian Watson, Director of Commercial Solutions Canon Medical Systems UK, Mark Holmshaw, President & CEO of Canon Medical Systems Europe; and Mark Hitchman, Managing Director of Canon Medical Systems UK attending the opening of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) as strategic partners.