10:19am Thursday 21 November 2019

Manual wheelchair users needed to help understand link between physical activity and health

Researchers from the group, based in the University’s Department for Health, are looking for male and female manual wheelchair users aged between 18 and 65 years to take part in the study.

The overarching aim of the research is to better understand the link between physical activity levels and the risk of developing chronic diseases.

Tom Nightingale, the PhD student working on the project said: “Evidence suggest that spinal cord injured paraplegics have a 60 per cent increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and are four times more likely to develop Type-2 diabetes.

“Although we know physical activity plays a key role in the prevention of these diseases, we really need to clarify the underlying mechanisms in this population. At present this area is under-researched and it would be fantastic to inform physical activity recommendations and guidelines for manual wheelchair users in order to improve metabolic health. The development of new objective tools is only the first step.”

The researchers will assess each volunteer in the DASH laboratory which is fitted with a wheelchair treadmill. Participants will be asked to perform various tasks whilst wearing several monitors designed to measure physical activity. These monitors are currently not validated in this population and this is the first step in being able to accurately measure how physically active manual wheelchair users are.

Researchers working with wheelchair users in the lab

The DASH research group benefited from a generous donation made by Susan Whorrod which resulted in the appointment of Jean-Philippe Walhin who is also working on the project as a Research Fellow.

He said: “We are looking for participants from the local community willing to take part in the research. In return, we will provide each volunteer with feedback on results, such as their fitness, diet, cholesterol, glucose and insulin levels, blood pressure and body composition.

“It will enable us to investigate the biological mechanisms by which physical activity protects against chronic disease. This is a fantastic opportunity to apply our existing expertise and knowledge in the area and translate this to the wider disabled population.”

The DASH group was founded by the Head of the Department for Health, Dr James Bilzon as part of the 2012 Paralympic Games legacy.

He said: “The University of Bath enjoys a very close relationship with the Paralympics, having hosted the training and preparation camps for the Paralympic GB team over the last four year cycle. The DASH research group was established to integrate our learning from training elite athletes and translate this into meaningful benefits for the wider disabled population.”

For more information on taking part in the trial please email Tom Nightingale or call 01225 384809.


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