University of Salford prosthetics and orthotics image

The UK is set to train many more highly-skilled prosthetists and orthotists after the announcement of a global centre of excellence at the University of Salford.

The £11 million project, funded by the EPSRC (Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council) unites 27 industry and clinical partners, including two of the largest manufacturers of prosthetic and orthotic devices, Blatchford and Össur.

In December 2018, Blatchford sold its majority stake to CBPE Capital as the company looks to become a key global player in the prosthetics and orthotics market.

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Worldwide demand for artificial limbs, braces, footwear and other assistive devices is mushrooming, but the people who make, fit and monitor prosthetics require a rare combination of clinical, medical and engineering skills, emphasises the University of Salford.

The new Centre for Doctoral Training in Prosthetics and Orthotics aims to train 60 individuals to doctoral level over the next four years, as well as coordinate new Master’s courses and research to address the skills gap in the UK and abroad, particularly in low and middle-income countries such as Cambodia, Uganda and Jordan.

Led by the University of Salford, the partnership brings together both UK undergraduate training centres (Salford and Strathclyde) with research teams at Imperial College London, the University of Southampton, and Northwestern University in the US.

The unique doctoral research training will be complemented by a new Master’s programme operating across all four partner Universities.

Students will be supported by national and global industry, and clinical, patient and service partnerships, who will ensure training and provide placement and employment opportunities.

Malcolm Granat, Professor of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Salford, said: “There has been a healthy growth in the number of UK undergraduates studying P&O since the removal of the student numbers cap and there is thus a growing need for doctorally-qualified leaders in the sector to support this growth.

“Presently there is a woeful shortage of research engineers who have a deep understanding of these challenges. Our expectation is that this new centre will create a talented workforce, who will be equipped to produce local and global solutions to transform lives.”

The majority of students will come from the UK, but the centre will also support training for students from low and middle-income countries.

In the UK, the Disabled Living Foundation estimates that 6.5 million people live with mobility disablement, while in parts of the developing world, and often in the aftermath of conflict, there is a growing global need for prosthetics and orthotics support.

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Prosthetics and Orthotics was announced at the London Stock Exchange on the 4th of February 2019 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

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