Impact of Staffordshire University research highlighted in national report

Friday 4 May 2012

A research study to improve the rehabilitation of war-wounded soldiers undertaken by Staffordshire University has featured in a new national report in Parliament.

The research, which aims to enhance the competitive opportunities in and through sport as a way to rehabilitate wounded war veterans, was featured in a report released for Universities Week 2012 (30 April – 7 May 2012), which highlights some of the world-class university research and sport development programmes across the UK.

The report, Olympic and Paralympic Games: The impact of universities, was launched by The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science at a special event held in the House of Commons.

Staffordshire University’s Professor of Clinical Biomechanics Nachi Chockalingam and Dr Nigel Thomas, who have led the research, attended the ceremony in London.

Professor Chockalingam said: “Encouraging war-wounded people to use sport and recreational physical activity as a means of rehabilitation was the origin of the Paralympics.

“But, our research reveals the percentages of veterans taking part in the Games are low and that no specific policies exist outside the US where it is expected that 15 per cent of the US Paralympic team will be made up of war veterans by 2012. This kind of policy could improve the growth of Paralympic sport."

Professor Chockalingam hopes the research to help enhance the relationship between the medical and sports professions, with a view to develop focused products for specific Paralympic sport and sports participants.

Whilst improving the performance of athletes in elite competition, the ultimate aim of the research is to develop a system of specific protocols to identify and support war-injured individuals who can participate and excel in a specific sport at an elite level.

Head of Sport and Exercise, Dr Nigel Thomas, who joined Professor Chockalingam in London, said: "If we can help war- injured people to be rehabilitated, but also guided by professionals into a suitable sport, we will create a new pathway for individual success at Paralympic level."

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK, said: “It is sometimes easy to forget when you watch an athlete or team compete just how much preparation has gone into their performance. This isn’t simply a question of training schedules and practice. These days, cutting-edge university research is used to support every aspect of Olympic sports – from nutrition and health to equipment, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and of course performance.

Karen Rothery, Chief Executive Officer, British Universities & Colleges Sport, said: “Sports development within our universities is encouraging greater participation in sport and activity across the student population and within the communities of universities. The development of a variety of programmes means more people have the opportunity to be more active and enjoy the many benefits that brings.”

Copies of the full report are available on request from universitiesweek@fourcommunications.com and later for download from www.universitiesweek.org.uk