A Chesterfield man is exploring the final frontiers of physiotherapy - by carving out a space career.
Spotting a way to combine his training as a physiotherapist, with his life-long interest in space flight, Andrew Winnard completed an internship with the exercise team at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.
During his internship, which he was able to write up as a work-based learning module towards his physiotherapy master’s, Andrew worked on a project looking at ways to assess changes in astronaut walking patterns caused by long duration space missions.
After many months spent floating in zero gravity, astronauts often suffer postural muscle and bone weakness, both of which require extensive physiotherapy to correct.
Andrew, Sheffield Hallam University master’s student, worked closely with international medical teams who prepare astronauts for, and rehabilitate from, space missions to the International Space Station (ISS).
He is now part of a research team developing an exercise device that may one day be used in the rehabilitation of European astronauts. This research will form his master’s dissertation and Andrew has already begun thinking about completing a PhD to enable him to contribute further to space medical research.
He has also been invited to represent the European Space Agency on a panel presenting his astronaut gait project to the Aerospace Medicine Associations Conference in early 2013 in Chicago, USA.
Andrew, 27, has studied multiple degrees at Sheffield Hallam, completing undergraduate degrees in biomedical science and physiotherapy before beginning his master’s degree in applying physiotherapy.
He said: “I have always been interested in space flight and when choosing to study physiotherapy I was advised to try and combine my hobbies and interests with my career.
“It’s taken hard work, determination and lots of support from the University’s physiotherapy department to pursue opportunities but I’m proof that if you have a passion you can achieve it.
“Student organisations like the UK Space Biomedical Association, which works to increase UK research into space biomedicine, have also been invaluable for making contacts with others working in the field.
“With hard work it is possible to make a real difference to the world and I look forward to continuing to contribute towards exploration of the next.”