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Footsteps Fund support for stroke rehabilitation robotics

 March 31, 2020 | Simon Jenkins


In 2018, the Footsteps Fund first asked alumni to support the innovative research being conducted by Professor Martin Levesley and his team.

Supported by alumni and friends of the University, the Footsteps Fund supports initiatives which enhance the student experience and provides scholarships to hundreds of students annually to enable them to take up their hard earned place at Leeds.

The fund has also helped our world-class researchers take the next vital steps towards extraordinary discoveries whilst supporting students to become the researchers of tomorrow.

Donors responded generously to the appeal, contributing over £82,000 to the work.

The ability for stroke survivors to regularly access physiotherapy is fundamental in their recovery process. MyPAM can make this treatment more accessible for patients as the device could be used in their own home giving them the ability to do their physiotherapy as frequently and for as long as they wish without the need to visit hospital. 

“Your support has already allowed us to give a number of undergraduate students the chance to work on this research project over the summer months at a critical early point in their career. Three fantastic students have been gaining valuable work and research experience by developing and refining the computer games used by MyPAM, to ensure patients interact with it in the most effective and therapeutic way. A fourth student, who was part of the research team last year, is continuing his work to test and evaluate more cost-effective ways to power MyPAM.

“We believe that these developments will help to reduce the cost of the robot, making MyPAM much more affordable, and thus more accessible for patients who need physiotherapy.”

This support has not only allowed these students to gain essential experience at this early point of their career, but has also allowed the project to continue to develop with fresh new ideas and enthusiasm – creating a cost- effective system which users will find engaging. Now, with the continued help of engineering design agency EatFishDesign, a start-up company set up by Leeds alumni, the team is conducting consumer research to further review and assess the needs of patients.

Your gifts are helping Martin and his team work towards starting a programme of clinical trials of MyPAM later in 2020.

Mechatronics and Robotics student William Atkins, one of the summer interns, says: “Our goal is to provide a motivational tool for patients to keep working on their exercises so that they can get function of their body, and their life, back quickly. While studying, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Working on this project lets me apply the skills and knowledge I have (and those I will develop throughout the research) to a practical issue that will help real people.”

Footsteps Fund appeals have also made major contributions to our work in Microbubbles and Brain Cancer. Learn more about the Footsteps Fund.

Footsteps Fund support for stroke rehabilitation robotics