My rseaerch group pursues a multidisciplinary research programme investigating the development and the factors governing plasticity of the corticospinal system throughout life. We are the only group internationally able to undertake detailed neurophysiological studies of the development of the corticospinal control of the hand and upper limb across the life span from preterm babies to extreme old age. This has enabled us to characterise the high degree of activity-dependent plasticity of the corticospinal system in man during early development by studying babies who had suffered a middle cerebral artery infarction in utero or in the perinatal period. By contrasting the reorganisation of the corticospinal system after middle cerebral artery infarction in children of differing ages with that provoked by stroke in adulthood, we have gained a detailed understanding of the different age-dependent factors that govern plastic reorganisation, and an appreciation of the high degree of plasticity induced in the adult brain after stroke.
I have been working to translate this knowledge of the plasticity of the motor system following stroke into the delivery of effective rehabilitation of upper limb function for both children and adults. To this end I co-founded a spin out company Limbs Alive (http://www.limbsalive.com/) with the objective of developing, evaluating and delivering a sustainable service for upper limb rehabilitation. This is based on the use of gaming technology and has been recognised with the NHS Innovations North Bright Ideas in Health 2009, Cels Business for Life Award for Partnership with the NHS 2010, and the Medical Futures NHS Innovation Award for 2011.