Visiting Researchers

Dorothee Debuse

Physiotherapist and visiting researcher


Following a successful career in neuro-musculoskeletal physiotherapy (both in the NHS and in private practice) which led Dorothee to develop a particular interest in helping people with chronic pain, incl. low back pain, she started teaching part time at Northumbria University in 2002. In 2004 Dorothee gave up working for the NHS to dedicate time to her PhD and, once she had finished that, developed her other keen professional interest, hippotherapy (specialist physiotherapy which uses the movement of horses in walk to facilitate movement responses in clients with neuro-motor disorders) which she has been practicing since 2009. Since 2006 Dorothee has also been involved in the invention and development of a new exercise device designed specifically to activate key muscles responsible for the segmental spinal stability in the lumbo-pelvic area. The exercise device, one application of which is in the (pre-)rehabilitation of people with low back pain, including astronauts, has been the subject of several studies (incl. PhD and MSc) since 2009, and Dorothee has been asked to contribute to both ESA Bed-rest Workshops, designed to improve astronaut health, since 2009. As a result, staff at the ESA Crew Medical Support Office in Cologne have been very interested in the use of the device in astronaut rehabilitation, with the result that Dorothee is now PI of an ESA funded study which is just about to begin. This is an exciting development which shows the recognition of the relevance of post-mission rehabilitation (as opposed to focus only on in-flight counter-measures), by ESA. While space bio-medicine seems exotic to some, it provides a fascinating and unique opportunity to explore deterioration in health over a very short period of time, something that takes decades on Earth; however, many of the principles are the same and can be applied equally to people's health on Earth. This gives Dorothee the opportunity to collaborate both with colleagues within Northumbria University, and experts from all over the world.