Medical Engineering Research Group (MERG)

Medical Engineering research

Our group carries out state-of-the-art research in musculoskeletal, vascular diseases and medical devices.

MERG consists of scientists from Anglia Ruskin University, physicians from Mid-Essex Hospitals Trust and Springfield Ramsay Hospital and collaborators from industry, who combine forces to address common debilitating clinical problems, such as osteoarthritis and venous ulcers.

Our collaboration with the Hospital for Special Surgery aims to advance research on realignment surgery, to delay the onset of osteoarthritis and the need for knee replacement, and to assist with the design of our new Medical Engineering Laboratory.

Our research themes fall into three distinct categories:

  • orthopaedic
  • vascular disease
  • medical devices.

We offer our Medical Engineering PhD. We have also identified a range of innovative research project opportunities for you as a postgraduate research student.

Our aim and mission

Our aim is to provide engineering solutions to medical problems, through experimental and theoretical assessment, to help improve clinical outcomes of patients receiving conservative and surgical treatments for musculoskeletal pathologies and enhance circulatory function of vascular structures.

Our mission is to advance state-of-the-art in research in musculoskeletal, vascular diseases and medical devices through the application of engineering in medicine for improved quality of life.

Our facilities

We’re based in Chelmsford, in the Medical Engineering Laboratory (MEL) of our Postgraduate Medical Institute. The MEL has been carefully designed to allow a range of research, teaching and clinical activities. This enables the analysis of healthy, pathologic and athletic movement patterns. A large mass floor system minimises vibration-induced errors to sensitive equipment, such as the force plates, cameras and material testing machine.

Ground reaction forces are measured with adjustably repositionable force plates to ensure flexibility of research activities. This is the first of its kind in the UK. A prototype of this approach can be found in the Leon Root Motion Analysis Laboratory (LRMAL) at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), one of the leading orthopaedic and rheumatology hospitals in the United States.

Our laboratory design was developed by Dr Howard Hillstrom, Director of the LRMAL, who has significantly contributed his knowledge and expertise towards the development of the MEL right from the initial stage.

We were awarded £300,000 from the Science Research Investment Fund in December 2008 to buy capital equipment, including:

  • computer simulations: medical imaging, computer aided design and finite element packages
  • mechanical testing machines
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • motion tracking systems
  • force plates
  • the Novel Emed-x Plantar force measurement
  • interface pressure mapping systems
  • the combined Photoplethysmography and Doppler System.

Our research projects

Current projects

  • An intermittent pneumatic compression boot for the treatment of venous ulcers.
  • High tibial osteotomy: a computer simulation study by finite element method.
  • Partial meniscectomy: a computer simulation study by finite element method.
  • Partial meniscectomy: an in vitro study.
  • Biomechanical research into the physiological effects of reclinable seating with emphasis on lower back pain as part of the design process of a new recliner chair.
  • Hip resurfacing.
  • Metal on metal hip replacement.

Past projects

  • Improving long-term stability of cemented total hip replacement – part 1.
  • Improving long-term stability of cemented total hip replacement – part 2.
  • The contact stress in the natural knee following autologous chondrocyte implantation.
  • The long-term stability of total shoulder arthroplasty.
  • The registration of medical images of different modalities.
  • Evaluation of cushion performance of healthcare chairs.
  • Evaluation of different fabric welding techniques for the prevention of cross contamination and material testing.
  • Achieving uniform cement mantle of optimum thickness during orthopaedic surgery.
  • An in-vitro comparative study of the performance of different commercially available intramedullary femoral plugs during total hip replacement.
  • The effect of mixing techniques on the structure and properties of acrylic bone cement and the implant-cement and cement-bone interfaces.
  • Intensive visual feedback training for the treatment of swallowing disturbances for patients with Parkinson's disease.
  • Passive acoustics for medical applications.
  • Measurement of osteoporosis by computer assisted analysis of X-rays of the metacarpals.
  • Mathematical modelling of tibial anterior compartment syndrome.
  • Comparison of the efficiency of lavage fluids in the cleaning of bone during hip replacement.
  • Comparative clinical trial of the Spectron and Charnley total hip implants.
  • Fatigue properties of mix ratio bone cement as a function of monomer/polymer.

Contact us

Dr Rajshree Hillstrom: