My Santander Mobility Trip to Boston, Massachusetts

By Louise Burgess

This September, with funding from the Santander Mobility Grant, facilitated by the Bournemouth University Fundraising team, I was fortunate enough to travel to Boston, Massachusetts, to visit some of the world-leading experts in osteoarthritis research. My visit was kindly hosted by Dr Julie Keysor, who was Director of Boston University’s Centre for Enhancing Activity and Participation among Persons with Arthritis (ENACT) and now works at MGH Institute of Health Professions. It was interesting to learn of Dr Keysor’s research into barriers to employment for people with knee osteoarthritis and adherence to exercise therapy given ORI’s research into the conservative management of osteoarthritis. I was also incredibly lucky to meet with Professor David Felson, who is a Professor of Medicine at Boston University and Director of the Research in Osteoarthritis in Manchester group at Manchester University. Professor Felson has received the Howley Prize from the Arthritis Foundation (U.S.) for contributions to arthritis research and has also been awarded the OARSI Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 due to his devotion to increasing the understanding of osteoarthritis. Having the opportunity to meet with his team to share research ideas was a truly valuable experience.

In addition to meeting some of Boston University’s most established medical researchers, Dr Keysor kindly introduced me to some of her contacts at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Outpatient Centre, MGH Institute of Health Professions and Northeastern University. It was interesting to meet with Dr Dana Kotler, who is an Instructor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation. Dr Kotler created a Cycling Medicine Programme, which was exciting to hear about given our work on the CHAIN (Cycling Against Hip Pain) programme. I also spent a day at Boston’s Children Hospital, participating in an incredible Paediatric Pain Rehabilitation Programme, which is the best of its kind in the world. The programme involves an interdisciplinary team of doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists working together to rehabilitate children and adolescents with chronic pain syndrome.

I was also lucky to visit the Motion Analysis Laboratory at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and to learn of the research being conducted on robotics and wearable technology. On my last day in Boston, I met with Maura Iversen to discuss collaborating on a project looking at adherence to exercise therapy before total knee replacement surgery. The grant also allowed me to attend the OARSI 2019 World Congress on Osteoarthritis in Toronto, Canada, to share the research ORI is conducting on the conservative management of hip osteoarthritis.

In summary, the Santander Mobility grant is a hugely valuable tool that allows researchers and students to share best-practice research skills and methodologies. The trip provided an insight into some of the world-leading research on the prevention and management of osteoarthritis, which will translate not only into the work we do at ORI, but also into my PhD. Thank you to the Fundraising team at Bournemouth University and Dr Julie Keysor, who made this opportunity possible.