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Prof Stephen Preece

Post Nominals PhD
Biography Steve is the Director of the Centre for Health Sciences Research. In this role, he is responsible for fostering a vibrant research culture across the school, enabling staff from a wide range of academic backgrounds to develop their research profile. His own research is focused around musculoskeletal biomechanics and wearable sensor technology. He has now published 45 journal papers in this area, attracted over £1.2M in research funding and supervised 11 PhD students to completion.

Steve’s research seeks to understand whether abnormal ways of moving, or coordinating muscles, can lead to musculoskeletal pain or other physiological impairment, such as altered breathing. Using biomechanical research techniques (e.g. electromyography), his research explores the links between muscle coordination and pain, how alterations in postural control affects muscle activation during movement and how to deliver effective muscle biofeedback. Using this knowledge, Steve aims to create new physiotherapy-led interventions.

With funding from the NIHR, he has created a completely new behavioural intervention for knee osteoarthritis which integrates concepts from biomechanics, pain science and health psychology. This intervention incorporates EMG biofeedback and is referred to as “Cognitive Muscular Therapy”. Steve has recently been awarded £250K from the NIHR to carry out a feasibility trial to understand how effective this new treatment may be for people with knee osteoarthritis who do not respond to exercise-based management. Building on this success, Steve has also been awarded £400K from the EPSRC to create a new digital health system to manage dysfunctional breathing. This project will deliver a novel biofeedback system which uses avatar-based visualisation to enable patients to improve the muscular control of breathing.

Steve has a strong research profile in the biomechanics of human running. This work seeks to explore the links between running injury and movement/muscle coordination. Steve aims to use this understanding to develop and test ways of treating running-related injuries and has used his understand of human running to set up two commercial running performance clinics.
Teaching and Learning Master’s level research methods, biomechanics and prosthetics and orthotics.