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Professor Nick Caplan

Chair in Aerospace Medicine and Rehabilitation and Faculty Director of Postgraduate Research

Department: Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation

HLS_Nick -Caplan _Northumbra -University -Reader -Clinical -Biomechanics _255

Nick graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2005 with a PhD in Biomechanics. He subsequently joined Northumbria University where he is now Professor of Aerospace Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Director of Postgraduate Research for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Nick works with a range of collaborators from around the world in research relating to aspects of musculoskeletal dysfunction.  Most notably, he has worked closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2009 due to the relevance of deep spinal muscle deconditioning to astronaut rehabilitation.  As a result of this collaboration, Nick has acted as an advisor to ESA in relation to exercise after spaceflight.

Nick is an Executive Board member of the UK Space Life and Biomedical Sciences Association, where he chairs a steering group developing a national strategy for space biomedicine related to ageing.  He is also an editorial board member of the journal Sports Engineering, Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, and the World Journal of Orthopaedics, and is Associate Editor for the Journal of Orthopaedics and Trauma.




Campus Address

Room 240
Northumberland Building

0191 243 7382


PhD in Biomechanics (University of Birmingham), PgCert in Academic and Professional Learning (Northumbria University), BSc (Hons) in Sport and Exercise Sciences (University of Birmingham), FHEA

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Throughout his academic career, Nick’s research has been underpinned by a strong background in the biomechanics of human movement, and the interaction between the human body and the external environment.  Since 2008, his research has focused on the development and evaluation of rehabilitative interventions for joint and postural instability. This overarching theme is underpinned by research looking at exercise rehabilitation strategies to restore spinal/postural stability as a result of muscular dysfunction, and the effectiveness of surgical interventions to restore lower limb joint function and stability, using multidisciplinary approaches.

Sponsors and Collaborators


  • Prof Simon Evetts – SeaSpace Research Ltd
  • Prof David Beard – University of Oxford
  • Prof Jonathan Cook – University of Oxford
  • Prof Deiary Kader – South West London Elective Orthopaedic Centre
  • Prof Paul Banaskiewicz – Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Glen Rae – South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr Jonathan Scott – Space Medicine Office, European Space Agency
  • Dr Tobias Weber – Space Medicine Office, European Space Agency
  • Prof Julie Hides – Australian Catholic University
  • Prof Paul Hodges – University of Queensland
  • Dr Sauro Salomoni – University of Queensland
  • Dr Enrico De Martino – Aalborg University



  • UK Space Agency
  • European Space Agency
  • Connect Physical Health
  • Draeger Safety
  • Biomet UK Ltd
  • De Puy (Johnson & Johnson)
  • Nike
  • NHS

Current/Recent Projects

  • Effects of artificial gravity during, and rehabilitation following, bed rest on musculoskeletal adaptations, postural control and low back pain (Principal investigator) - UK Space Agency (2018-2019)
  • The Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device (FRED): Post whole body unloading rehabilitation services (Principal investigator) - European Space Agency (2017)
  • Effects of artificial gravity during, and rehabilitation following, bed rest on musculoskeletal adaptations, postural control and low back pain (Principal investigator) – UK Space Agency (2017)
  • Relative motion between three SCBA sets and the wearer (Principal investigator) – Draeger Safety Ltd (2017)
  • The Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device (FRED): Operational Evaluation Phase 3 (Principal investigator) - European Space Agency (2016-2017)
  • Effectiveness of a community based musculoskeletal clinical assessment and treatment service on health related quality of life (Principal investigator) - Connect Physical Health (2015-2016)
  • Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device (FRED): Phase 2 (Principal investigator) - European Space Agency (2015-2016)
  • Testing and validation of a new motion capture technology (Principal investigator) - See Fish Ltd (2014)
  • Environmental testing of breathing apparatus sets (Principal investigator) - Draeger  (2013)
  • The Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device (FRED): Phase 1 (Principal investigator) - European Space Agency (2013-2014)
  • Motion analysis: long duration breathing apparatus system (Principal investigator) - Draeger Safety Ltd (2011)
  • Devices for Assisted Living (DALi) (Co-investigator) - European Commission (FP-7) (2011-2013)
  • Sponsored studios (Principal investigator) - Nike (2011-2012)
  • Gait assessment following total knee replacement (Principal investigator) - De Puy (Johnson & Johnson) (2009-2012)
  • Motion analysis: firefighter harness system testing (Principal investigator) - Draeger  (2013)
  • Gait assessment following total hip and knee replacement (Principal investigator) - Biomet UK Ltd (2008-2012)

Key Publications

Winnard, A., Debuse, D., Wilkinson, M. & Caplan, N. (2017) Movement amplitude on the Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device: deep spinal muscle activity and movement control. European Journal of Applied Physiology. DOI: 10.1007/s00421-017-3648-3. [View paper]

Weber, T., Debuse, D., Salomoni, S.E., Elgueta Cancino, E.L., De Martino, E., Caplan, N., May, F., Damann, V., Scott, J. & Hodges, P.W. (2017) Trunk muscle activation and cardiorespiratory demand during exercise with a new device for lumbo-pelvic reconditioning.  Physiological Reports. 5, e13188, doi: 10.14814/phy2.13188. [View paper]

Winnard, A., Debuse, D., Wilkinson, M. & Caplan, N. (2017) The immediate effects of exercise using the Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device on lumbopelvic kinematics in people with and without low back pain.  Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 27, Supplement 1, S47-S53. [View paper]

Winnard, A., Nasser M., Debuse, D., Stokes, M., Evetts, S., Wilkinson, M., Hides, J. & Caplan, N. (2017). Systematic review of countermeasures and rehabilitation interventions to minimise physiological changes and risk of injury to the lumbopelvic area following long-term microgravity.  Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 27, Supplement 1, S5-S14. [View paper]

Lindenroth, L., Caplan, N., Debuse, D., Salomoni, S.E., Evetts, S. & Weber, T.  (2015) A novel approach to activate deep spinal muscles in space – results of a biomechanical model. Acta Astronautica, 116, 202-210. [View paper]

Caplan, N., Gibbon, K.C., Hibbs, A., Evetts, S. & Debuse, D.  (2014) Phasic-to-tonic shift in trunk muscle activity during low-impact weight bearing exercise. Acta Astronautica, 104, 1, 388-395. [View paper]

Evetts SN, Caplan N, Debuse D, Lambrecht G, Damann V, Petersen N, and Hides J. (2014) Post Space Mission Lumbo-Pelvic Neuromuscular Reconditioning: A European Perspective. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 85, 7, 764-765. [View paper]

To visit my NRL page click here

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Professional Activity

  • Associate Editor – Journal of Orthopaedics and Trauma
  • Editorial Board Member – Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology
  • Editorial Board Member – Sports Engineering
  • Editorial Board Member – World Journal of Orthopaedics
  • Topical Team (advisory board) member – European Space Agency – “Exercise after space (rehabilitation)”
  • Member – Harwell Space Life Science Working Group
  • Executive Board Member – UK Space Life and Biomedical Sciences Association
  • Chair of Focus Team on “Ageing” – UK Space Life and Biomedical Sciences Association


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