Helen Branthwaite

Senior Lecturer

School of Health, Science and Wellbeing

The early part of my career focused on clinical podiatric practice as an advanced practitioner, Pennine Acute NHS delivering a musculoskeletal service to the outpatient orthopaedic and podiatric surgery departments. I continue to work in clinical practice as a MSK podiatrist in a private podiatry clinic which provides a broad scope of services. I combine this clinical work with leading the postgraduate Clinical Biomechanics suite of awards at Staffordshire University. This allows allied health professionals to complete a full masters award or study individual modules for CPD. Modules include Sports Biomechanics in injury, Gait Analysis, Origins and Principles and Paediatric biomechanics. I have developed a vibrant clinical biomechanics alumni social media group who regularly interact with current students on clinically relevant research and activities.

Leading and Developing National Policy and Strategies: I have been an advisor to The Royal College of Podiatry on the parliamentary issue of High Heel Shoes and now lead the national agenda through the college for CPD and professional engagement in musculoskeletal practice. I have been an invited speaker at specialist interest groups, CPD training and Professional Conferences on the uses of footwear in a clinical setting, treatments for plantar fasciitis and biomechanics of the high-risk foot. I am currently researching electromyography of the foot and the impact footwear design has on function, as well as interventions for balance management in an aging population. Previously, I have led the UK specialist interest group in footwear science organising the 2nd footwear biomechanics conference as an arm to the annual Staffordshire Conference in Clinical Biomechanics.

Internationally: I have worked as a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta for the Podiatric Medicine BSc from 2007-2012, delivering a clinical biomechanics module to 2nd year Maltese podiatry students. I have been an invited speaker at the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists Ireland, as well as Neuro Diab conference in Romania. I am an advisor for the development of a national program of education in Podiatry to create a Romanian Podiatry profession, whilst also working with emerging professional organisations. I have created and maintained collaborations with Mizuno, Japan to research the impact of modified footbed design on balance in older adults. This work will inform product design in the market of mass-produced therapeutic footwear. I have also created a knowledge link with Cambrion, Paris, France applying for a research grant to explore the restrictions in larger footwear sizes for women. This work will lead to further research on the design and fit of footwear for women.

Professional memberships and activities

  • HCPC registered podiatrist
  • Member The Royal College of Podiatry
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy
  • Member Footwear Biomechanics Group
  • Editorial board for Journal Foot and Ankle Research
  • Editorial board Footwear Science Journal,
  • Reviewer for Gait and Posture, The Foot, Journal of American Podiatric Medical Association, Medical Devices: Evidence and Research, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, Ergonomics.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD “The Impact of Footwear Choice on Foot Biomechanics “2015 Staffordshire University
  • MSc Sports Injury. 2001 Manchester Metropolitan University
  • BSc(Hons) Podiatric Medicine, 1996 Salford University 

Expertise

Clinical application of biomechanics, Effects of footwear on foot function, with particular interest in balance and frailty.

Research interests

I have a fond love of shoes and have focused my expertise and knowledge into the function of shoes and the impact on foot mechanics and development of deformity. I also have a strong interest in human mechanics and the development of injury and long term dysfunction, particular interest is focused on the lower limb and the relationship between multidisciplinary models evaluating more than one variable and the contrast of the impact this has on the individual.

Teaching

Postgraduate modules on Critical Appraisal, Gait Analysis, Origins and Principles of Biomechanics, Sports Biomechanics in Injury and the Dissertation. I deliver lectures and seminars for these modules as well as co-ordinate specialist lectures to complement the programs.

Publications

  • Ellis, S., Branthwaite, H. and Chockalingam, N., (2022). Evaluation and optimisation of a footwear assessment tool for use within a clinical environment. Journal of foot and ankle research, 15(1), pp.1-9.
  • Branthwaite, H., Aitkins, C., Lindley, S., Chockalingam, N. (2019). Surface Electromyography of the foot: a protocol for sensor placement – Under Review The Foot .
  • Branthwaite, H., Grabtree, G., Chockalingam, N. and Greenhalgh, A., (2018). The Effect of Toe Flexion Exercises on Grip. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 108(5), pp.355-361.
  • Hurst, B., Branthwaite, H., Greenhalgh, A. and Chockalingam, N., (2017). Medical-grade footwear: the impact of fit and comfort. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 10(1), p.2.
  • Branthwaite, H., Chockalingam, N., & Greenhalgh, A. (2013). The effect of shoe toe box shape and volume on forefoot interdigital and plantar pressures in healthy females. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 6(1), 28.
  • Branthwaite, H.R., Chockalingam, N, Jones M, Grogan S. (2012) Footwear choices made by young women and their potential impact on foot health. Journal of Health Psychology 27(11): 1-10.
  • Branthwaite, HR., Pandyan A., Chocaklingam, N. (2011) Function of triceps surae muscle in high and low arched feet; an exploratory study. The Foot doi:10.1016/j.foot.2011.11.004
  • Branthwaite, H.R., Payton, C., Chockalingam, N. (2004) The effect of simple insoles on three-dimensional foot motion during normal walking. Clinical Biomechanics. 19(4), 972-977.

A full list of publications and outputs can be viewed via my orcid ID https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8625-1008

Top 15 for Teaching Quality

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021

6th for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022