New investment in life-changing technology for rehabilitation

Logo for the the NIHR HealthTech Research centre in Rehabilitation

Transforming rehabilitation through technology

On 13 November 2023, Nottingham was named as one of 14 new HealthTech Research Centres by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

The new HealthTech Research Centre for Rehabilitation starts on 1 April 2024 and will introduce new technologies for adults and children, by bringing together expertise from the NHS, universities, medical technology companies and patients and the public. It is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) for five years.

Here's a summary of our plans:

Why rehabilitation?

People with potentially life-changing injury, trauma and illness deserve the best rehabilitation. New technology is key to advancing this. The NIHR HealthTech Research Centre in Rehabilitation based at NUH will focus on developing and applying new technologies to transform patients’ lives.

Medical advances have significantly improved survival rates after major injury and illness. However, these life-saving advances have not been matched by the same improvement in rehabilitation to ensure recovery towards good quality of life. For many patients, their ongoing needs are currently not met.

Recognising people might need rehabilitation at any time in their lives and focusing on those needs across a lifetime, rather than specific clinical conditions, the new HRC in Rehabilitation will cut through any narrow-focused silos, creating solutions with the widest possible application.

A major part of the work of the new HRC will be in the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) which is due to open in 2025. Our research will also investigate ways to improve services across acute, primary care, residential and social care.

New technologies are a vital part of transforming rehabilitation services. The UK is a healthcare technology leader, with 4,000 companies and revenue of £21bn. The industry consists mainly of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These often have limited resources or capacity; the HRC will act as a catalyst to provide support and expertise to enable smaller companies to develop innovative solutions which can be used in the NHS.

What we aim to achieve

  • Enable patients to experience new technologies in a purpose-built centre of excellence

  • Working with the National Rehabilitation Centre to develop technology which will enable patients to recover faster and better after serious injury or illness. The HRC will support access to innovative technologies.

  • Increasing industry engagement and giving access to expertise to support developers. Nottingham and the East Midlands is already a successful test-bed for medical technologies. We have the capability and, through the NRC, increasing capacity to support developers, alongside current service provision.

  • Benefitting patients in greatest need through technology. By working with patients to develop technologies which can be used at home, we will support greater independence and empower individuals to shape their own recovery.

  • Widen participation and adoption of technologies in underserved communities. Participation rates in rehabilitation are lower for patients at social or economic disadvantage. The HRC will work with partners who deliver rehabilitation in a wide range of settings, including some of the most deprived local authorities in England. This collaboration, therefore, is well-placed to ensure technology is appropriate and supported.

  • Realise the personal, community and social benefits of vocational rehabilitation. Technology can provide faster, more effective support to return to work, benefitting individuals, families and communities, as well as the wider economy. For example, each year 1.4 million people attend A&E with head injuries; many need rehabilitation.

The new Centre is led by Professor Dan Clark, Head of Clinical Engineering at NUH and Professor Pip Logan, Professor of Rehabilitation Research at the University of Nottingham.

Who is involved in the HRC

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is working with our partners in:

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