The role of disability sports as a driver for engineering innovation is being examined by global experts from academia and industry at a conference hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering and partners today (4 September).

The conference is split into three sections, covering the making, measuring and designing of rehabilitative technologies including prosthetics, wheelchairs and sensors. Speakers include: Professor Saeed Zahedi OBE FREng from Blatchford, Kevin Harney from Otto Bock and Professor Wendy Tindale from the Sheffield Foundation Trust.

Experts will discuss the role that disability sports can play in bringing new materials technologies into the marketplace, the potential impact of recent advances in sensing, imaging and informatics on sport and healthcare technologies and the opportunities for rehabilitation arising from advances in sports biomechanics.

Dr Amit Goffer, inventor of the ReWalk powered exoskeleton will give a presentation on how challenging sports can rehabilitate individuals with spinal cord injuries and the important role of technology aiding the rehabilitation. Dr Goffer’s innovation captured the public’s imagination earlier this year after Claire Lomas completed the London Marathon using a bionic ReWalk.

Senior World Affairs Producer for the BBC and an Olympic torchbearer, Stuart Hughes, will open the conference with a personal perspective on rehabilitative technologies and his experiences of using his prosthetic leg, which he has had since stepping on a landmine covering the Iraq War in 2003. Since his accident he has continued to travel the world for BBC News.

The conference is hosted by The Academy in partnership with Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) Science and Innovation Network, Engineering Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), Knowledge Transfer Networkand UK Trade & Investment (UKTI).

Professor David Delpy, Chief Executive of EPSRC and Fellow of the Academy, said: “The underpinning research in engineering and the physical sciences in the UK has helped to drive the innovative technology that allows many athletes to compete in the Paralympics.

“Great Britain hosting the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics events has provided a unique opportunity for the UK to demonstrate how basic research has contributed to optimising the potential of Paralympians to compete in elite sports and how it will help to shape the next generation of engineering innovations.”

The joint conference follows a unique business summit on 3 September, to celebrate the UK’s excellence in assistive medical technologies hosted by UK Trade & Investment, which features seminars on: advances in function and mobility, innovation for health and wellbeing, advances in medical rehabilitation and assisted living in action.

Notes for editors

  1. The conference is part of Side by side: innovation and engineering in disability sport, a programme of events combining a conference, lecture, reception and exhibition, hosted by the Academy at 3 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DG. It runs from 28 August - 14 September 2012. For more information, please visit:  Academy events
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0655