University helps disabled people through £5m therapy and sport centre
By Sarah Wood
Sports and exercise researchers from the University of Gloucestershire have joined forces with a new £5 million charity centre to investigate how hydrotherapy and other specialist treatments can help people living with conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
The Chamwell Centre charity, adjacent to Milestone School in Gloucester, launched its new facilities last month to help relieve pain and encourage disabled people's participation in a range of unique sporting activities.
At the same time, the University of Gloucestershire researchers will focus on links between the various treatments offered by the centre and their effects on individual health and wellbeing.
Dr Nicola Theis, senior lecturer in sport and exercise at the University of Gloucestershire, and a trustee of the Chamwell Centre charity, is leading the project work.
She said: "By studying these therapies, we hope to gain valuable insights into the management of childhood and adult disabilities, and encourage improved access to similar treatments across the UK.
"More data is needed to understand how, for example, hydrotherapy can help young arthritis suffers, and how initiatives like rebound therapy, soft play and all-ability team sports can improve a person's physical health and mental wellbeing.
"A programme of carefully managed multidisciplinary exercise can help prevent other conditions and disease progression as individuals grow older. Providing an evidence-base for these therapies and exercises can help generate investment and enable greater provision of services in the future."
In addition to academic staff, several students from the university's School of Sport and Exercise and School of Health and Social Care have already taken up work placements to support the Chamwell Centre.
Lizzie Thacker, sport and exercise science postgraduate student, said: "When I began my undergraduate degree, I was interested in disability sport and pursuing a career in physiotherapy.
"Taking up a placement and carrying out a research project with the Chamwell Centre helped me towards my goals and gave me a better understanding of how practitioners work with individuals that have a disability."
Gilli Appleby, Chamwell Centre charity CEO, said: We're thrilled the new centre is already offering hydrotherapy, soft play and sports clubs such as race-running, frame football and mixed ability rugby to the disabled community.
"Our café is now open and will provide work experience for pupils from Milestone School, a space for young enterprise projects and a fully accessible meeting place for the people of Gloucestershire.
"We're very grateful for our partnership with the University of Gloucestershire, which furthers our understanding of how to best support disabled people through the research projects being carried out, and through the students on placements who help us deliver these vital services."
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