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ResearchFeb 23, 2021

Southampton-based academic Maria Stokes joins Covid-19 BAME research project

Maria Stokes, professor of musculoskeletal rehabilitation at the University of Southampton, has joined a Covid-19-related research project.

Professor Stokes, a physiotherapist by background, joins the Consortium on Practices for Wellbeing and Resilience in BAME Families and Communities (Co-POWeR), led by Professor Iyiola Solanke at the University of Leeds.

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Women take part in Race for Life, a charity run and walk in Southampton in July 2018

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As the news was unveiled on the university’s website, Professor Stokes said: ‘It is well known that regular physical activity, which requires good nutrition, helps to prevent and improve underlying health conditions that affected the severity of impact of Covid-19 on health, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. 

‘These conditions are also common in BAME communities, so it’s vital to ensure that people who are vulnerable to the conditions are active and eat well.' 

The 18-month long Co-POWeR project is backed by £2.5 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation, via the Economic and Social Research Council.

An influential career

Professor Stokes studied physiotherapy at the London Hospital, before moving into the research field, gaining a PhD in neuromuscular physiology at the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. 

She joined the University of Southampton in 2004, where she leads the active living technologies research group in the department of health sciences. Her research interest is to enable lifelong active living and healthy ageing through optimising neuro-musculoskeletal health.

Communities have developed 'new strategies'

The Co-POWeR research team will focus on the impact of factors such as how racial discrimination might affect people’s wellbeing and resilience during the pandemic.

Principal investigator Professor Solanke said: ‘We want to illustrate that the way in which COVID-19 is exacerbating the experience of inequality for those in these [BAME] communities.

‘The people in these communities have developed new strategies to promote their own wellbeing and resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic, but given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, official interventions are also needed to support them.’

A national network of patient and public representatives will be led by academics based at the University of Southampton, the university announced. 

To find out more about Professor Stokes' career and responsibilities, visit: https://www.southampton.ac.uk/healthsciences/about/staff/mjs2.page#biography_and_cv 

Author: Ian A McMillan
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