The project was set up with Dr Jonathan Williams, the Physiotherapy BSc (Hons) Programme lead and Oliver Kohout from Loughborough University. It was designed to establish whether or not a Tibia-mounted accelerometer could detect the impact differences between footwear of varying design and bare foot running to reduce knee joint loading and prevent onset or progression of osteoarthritis (OA). Joint loading is implicated as being central in knee osteoarthritis symptom and disease progression and it is increasingly acknowledged that reducing joint loading yields clinically meaningful changes in clinical presentations. If accelerometry was successful at detecting the force attenuation properties of varying footwear, we could have an easily applicable, clinical assessment tool and a simple method for reducing joint loading.
The practical research element was carried out at Bournemouth House, Lansdowne Campus. The participants ran on a treadmill at 4 speeds, 8, 10, 12 and 14km/h and a random number generator was used to assign each of the three footwear and barefoot conditions, with a short familiarisation period for each condition.
It was concluded that accelerometry may serve as a quick and easy assessment tool to quantify the selection of footwear to optimise the impact attenuation properties in clinical populations, such as those with osteoarthritis.
This project and the award have supported a fundamental change in my student experience. Being involved in active research has helped to broaden my scope as a student and a practitioner. Dr Jonathan Williams has facilitated the development of my knowledge in a niche area of biomechanics and human performance that I had previously had an interest in and the experience has opened up new and exciting employment and research opportunities that were unknown to me. The experience of presenting our research at the Physiotherapy Research Society
helped to boost my confidence and tested my knowledge of my subject area. Many experienced Physiotherapists and researchers were interested in our project and it proved to be thought provoking for many who attended. In addition it was awarded for best poster presentation of the conference.
I am currently at the University of Salford in Manchester carrying out a research internships into footwear choices in the management of knee osteoarthritis with Arthritis Research UK and this is as a direct result of my research in Bournemouth. Without this project I would never have had this new opportunity. I have been able to network with some of our country’s most renowned researchers and develop new pathways that have changed the direction of my career. I have been offered a PhD from this Internship and I am formulating my own research questions and in touch with health performance institutes around the country.
I would like to thank Bournemouth University, The Centre For Excellence In Learning, the Physiotherapy undergraduate programme staff and Dr Jonathon Williams for all of the hard work and support you have provided during m cohorts studies and for the opportunities that have come my way as a result.
Author: Darel Evans.