Our latest work shows that children with Cerebral Palsy have more energy to play and be physically active for longer!

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Our research shows that the appropriate design and tailoring of splints can reduce the energy used by children with CP while increasing their speed and distance, compared with a splint which is not fine-tuned. This is something which could have a significant impact on their quality of life.

During the study, the researchers analysed the walking pattern of children with cerebral palsy at our gait laboratory and participants were assessed while barefoot and with both non-tuned and tuned splints.

Children wearing the fine-tuned splints showed improvements in several areas including hip and pelvic function and knee extension, while a non-tuned splint potentially showed a decrease in hip function.

The full research findings, which were published in the June edition of the Foot Journal, are available below:

Postcode Lottery for NHS Orthotics Patients

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Our latest paper published in the BMJ Open highlight large variances in appointment times, waiting times, product entitlements for patients, and product lead times across various NHS trusts.

Although some geographical areas provide shorter waiting times and wider access to assistive devices, other areas have very long waiting time which means that the service, particularly to the paediatric population is meaningless.

The NHS trusts seemed to be able to answer questions that reflect quantity of service above quality of service. However, the combination of the number of Trusts who declined to reply to the FOI request and those who replied with limited information, hindered the ability of this study to collate the data received to provide a fuller national picture of the Orthotic Service provision.

Although this paper confirms that many of the issues reported in previous reports on Orthotic Service provision are still evident, the result show that there have been some improvements.

Read the full paper here: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/10/e028186

Press Release: https://www.staffs.ac.uk/news/2019/10/postcode-lottery-for-nhs-orthotics-patients

My experiences at Staffordshire University and #StaffsBiomech

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Christopher Aitkins

The decision of where to study for a master’s degree was a difficult one. There seemed to be an endless choice of institutions, with a multitude of differing delivery models. I was working as a podiatrist and an undergraduate lecturer, I had both teaching and clinical commitments which I couldn’t escape for long periods and the idea of a purely online course seemed tempting; however, deep down I knew that work and life pressures would likely mean my studies may take a back seat. The MSc Clinical Podiatric Biomechanics course seemed ideal, the teaching was blended taught sessions on a weekend, so my day job didn’t need to suffer and there was online support available. This was a bonus as I live in the North East of England and the idea of popping in for a quick tutorial wasn’t possible.

The course was delivered by excellent teaching staff, people who were not only passionate about the subjects they specialised in, but were the authors of the current literature which I had been reading to develop my own clinical practice. In all honesty I was a little star struck, when I met some of them. I was determined not ask a “stupid question”, however, every tutor made me feel at ease and provide a safe and supportive environment which meant there were no “stupid questions”. The discussions that formed were insightful and helpful, led by the tutor guiding us to through the subject. This learning experience is one I have never encountered before and is one I try to model within any teaching sessions I deliver.

The support continued throughout my time studying with Staffordshire University, all my tutors were on hand with a quick reply to an email or to arrange a time for a telephone call which, they managed to fit around my working schedule. This support never wavered even when I started my dissertation. I had excellent guidance from day one; I had opportunity to spend time discussing with my supervisor my research idea, developing my methodology and setting a realistic time frame. At my first meeting my wife was 6 months pregnant with our 1st child. My tutor helped me set a timetable and deadlines which were achievable. Without this I feel, I would have made this process almost impossible for myself and possibly not finished at all. Balancing the demands to complete a research project, write a thesis and live with a new born was challenging. But my tutor had an excellent skill to allow me the space to progress and work, but check in exactly when I needed a boost, some encouragement or just the opportunity to share where I was up to. I completed my project and received a good grade; I was so proud of my achievement through whole duration of my study and felt I had completed a well-rounded piece of research. I have to admit I was surprised when my tutor suggested that I should publish my research. I had never published in a scientific journal, “that’s the sort of thing experts do” I thought. However, as I reflected, I realised that my research was worthy of publication. I had no idea where to start, but my tutors came to my rescue again providing me with the same level of support I had before ( For people who are interested in reading our work, please follow this link).

I am so glad I chose to study with Staffordshire University and the teaching team on MSc Clinical Biomechanics course. I have not only gained a qualification, but published researched, developed a professional network that are always happy to share and discuss learning and most importantly I have developed as clinician. It has not only helped my practice and patients but the experience has allowed me to grow as a professional.

Branthwaite, H., Aitkins, C., Lindley, S. and Chockalingam, N., 2019. Surface Electromyography of the foot: a protocol for sensor placement. The Foot. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foot.2019.07.001

 

Calling for Early career Researchers in India interested in Diabetes and Assistive Devices

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The Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies at Staffordshire University, UK is looking to establish a network of like-minded early career researchers in India interested in the area of rehabilitation and/or mobility assistive devices (e.g. footwear, orthoses, prostheses, wheelchairs) for people with diabetes. The goal of this network will be to establish national collaboration between early career researchers within India and international collaboration with Indian institutions and Staffordshire University.Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies

Ideally you should:

· Have a PhD related to the area of rehabilitation or mobility assistive devices for people with diabete
· Be employed at an Indian University or Research based Institution.
· Be an early career researcher who is currently within their first five years of academic or other research-related employment.
· Ideally with a good range of internationally peer reviewed journal publications.
· Below the age of 40 years.

If you are interested please email Dr. Aoife Healy (a.healy(at)staffs.ac.uk) with a short resume including a list of publications or provide a link to your ResearchGate/Google Scholar profile by Monday 22nd July 2019.

Foot orthoses: Is the practitioner really important?

One of our classic papers looked at the influence of practitioners and their skills in prescribing foot orthosis which are commonly prescribed and used in treating numerous lower limb problems.

Over the years several studies have reported positive effects and most clinical practitioners would confirm those findings. However, the exact mechanisms in which these orthoses work are not fully understood.

Our results suggest that the type and amount of effects observed is greatly influenced by the practitioners. From a scientific perspective, this indicates that great caution should be taken when studying and reporting the effects of custom foot orthoses (CFO). Had only one practitioner been used for studying CFO effects on kinematics, altogether different conclusions could have been drawn based on a single pair of CFO.

We recommend that future research on foot orthoses should focus on their long-term effect through longitudinal studies. Nevertheless, based on the reported data, it seems improbable that two different devices could yield the exact same results.

Most CFO will induce some systematic changes during gait. Furthermore, this study demonstrated that inter-practitioner variability is a major factor in orthotic intervention in treating a single patient and for a specific pathology. Based on the findings, it is strongly recommended to use caution when drawing general conclusions from research studies using CFO as it has been showed that the practitioner himself or herself will have a great influence on the treatment outcome. In addition, comparing studies on CFO where different practitioners were involved should be done with great caution as the conclusion could vastly differ.

Reference:

Chevalier, T.L. and Chockalingam, N., 2012. Effects of foot orthoses: how important is the practitioner?. Gait & posture35(3), pp.383-388.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966636211007600?via%3Dihub

 

 

Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of Prosthetic and Orthotic Interventions

An Infographic on the Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Prosthetic and Orthotic Interventions

The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) in partnership with the WHO, and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently published Standards for Prosthetics and Orthotics Service Provision. These Standards were developed to encourage better access to prosthetics and orthotics services.

To support the development of these Standards we were commissioned by the ISPO, in partnership with WHO and USAID, to conduct a systematic review.

What was the context to the project?

It has been estimated that in excess of 100 million people across the world are in need of a prosthesis or orthosis. However, it is projected that only 1 in 10 people in need has access to prosthetic and orthotic devices. To date no one has completed an overall examination of research examining orthotic and prosthetic interventions across healthcare.

What was the aim of the project?

The aim of this project was to complete a systematic review of the research to date which has examined the effectiveness of prosthetic and orthotic interventions.

How was information gathered?

Searches across 14 databases were used to capture all research in this area.

What were the main findings?

A large volume of research has been conducted in this area, however, there was limited high quality prospective studies. 319 English language randomised controlled trials were identified with only 4 of these examining prosthetic interventions, the rest examined orthotic interventions.

At present, for prosthetic and orthotic interventions, the scientific literature does not provide sufficient high-quality research to allow strong conclusions on their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Key statistics

  • The database searches resulted in a total of 28,958 articles.
  • 346 randomised controlled trials were identified, of which 323 were English language. Of the 323 English language RCTs, 319 examined orthotic interventions and 4 examined prosthetic interventions.
  • Orthotic interventions were categorised by the medical condition/injury with 68 categorises identified.
  • The most studies conditions were:
  • Osteoarthritis (30 studies)
  • Fractures (26)
  • Stroke (22)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (20)
  • Plantar fasciitis (18)
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (post-surgery) (16)
  • Diabetic foot (15)
  • Rheumatoid and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (13)
  • Ankle sprain (10)
  • Cerebral Palsy, Lateral Epicondylitis, Low back pain (8 studies each)

What are the implications of the findings?

This review highlighted the vast range of outcome measures utilised with few studies reporting on the same outcome measures. It was also evident that studies in general did not assess if the prosthetic or orthotic interventions allowed the users to participate in the activities of daily living in which they wished to perform, which is the major consideration for the user. There are many methodological issues within this area of research which need to be addressed to strengthen the quality of future research, which would then allow conclusive decisions to be made on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these interventions.

Link to full article:

Healy A, Farmer S, Pandyan A, Chockalingam N (2018) A systematic review of randomised controlled trials assessing effectiveness of prosthetic and orthotic interventions. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0192094. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192094

Funding:

This work was supported by the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) (Sub-grant from ISPO’s Collaborative Agreement with USAID Rehabilitation of physically disabled people in developing countries – USAID cooperative agreement DFD-A-00-08-00309-00).