Got the holiday blues?
Perhaps you had a great summer and are returning to work? This year we took a break on a campsite in northern Italy, enjoying sun, the relaxed pace of the day (I didn’t wear a watch for 2 weeks), running and cycling around the local farm fields. But it is also a time to take stock, reflect on what has changed in the past twelve months, and ask what are the ‘green shoots’ of fresh ideas that are the priorities as the new academic year starts. Several things are on my list of ‘holiday greens’.
Partnership with Podiatry and diabetes services in North Manchester.
Last year we invested in a jointly funded post-doctoral research post with North Manchester Diabetes Centre, seeking to embed our research skills and experience into local NHS services. We have already begun to meet with clinical teams and discuss how research might support their work. The research will be a tool to help clinicians achieve service priorities, not a bolt on activity. It’s exciting, and a little scary, to allow clinical staff and coal face issues to challenge our academic research passions and assumptions – are we doing meaningful research? What changes because of the research we do? Perhaps the academics have the most to learn from such partnerships? I secretly hope so.
As well as listening to local colleagues delivering diabetes care, the Foot Health Priority Setting Partnership will make important progress this year. The first questionnaire will go live in autumn and enable members of the public and all health professionals to voice their ideas for future foot health research priorities. By this time next year we should have the finalised “top ten” and be talking to external stakeholders about how we can fund these priorities. Don’t miss out on your chance to have a say….. Register your interest here.
‘New’ foot biomechanics
We are continuing our work on better understanding foot and ankle biomechanics and the interaction with orthoses. Rawan Abdeen (a Radiographer) will submit her PhD thesis shortly on how changes in lateral ankle ligaments post sprain affect balance and foot motion control. This will point at the importance of neural input in foot motion control. This issue has also been explored by PhD candidate Joanna Reeves (a sports scientist), who is currently in Canada on a study visit. Her PhD thesis is due by Christmas and includes work on the immediate and long term effects of foot orthoses on muscle and skin function.
Using stroke as a clinical model, work with Dr’s Kristen Hollands and Ulrike Hammerbeck hopes to further explore foot sensation and lower limb and foot biomechanics. Neural contributions from the foot are now a major focus of our foot biomechanics interests.
This is an exciting departure from our historical interests in foot biomechanics, but one I hope will better connect our research to the day to day needs of patients.
We are pursuing how digital technology can better capture patient needs and outcomes, and connect the two. Some internal investment and skills is fueling this for now but it has the potential to connect into all clinical projects that we undertake. My Colleague Dr Yeliz Prior (an Occupational Therapist) has already taken a lead in digital patent assessment through www.MSKHUB.com, and we hope to build greater foot health components in the near future.
Health and Society
On the 1st September our research group and all the allied health teams were brought into a single School at the University, the School of Health and Society. This will better align us with external regional and national agenda ad provide a single point of access to all things “health” at the University.
It also provides an opportunity for sustaining research growth, as different disciplines start to look each other in the eye and ask “what can I offer you, or you offer me”.
At a more practical level, September 2018 marks another new start. Having spent 20 years in single occupancy office (like most academics), I have dumped this model in favour of a more contemporary open plan office and team setting. Whilst not yet ‘Google-esque’ (see the picture to the right) it’s a step in the right direction to support greater integration of ideas across traditional discipline boundaries, proving support for our rising stars and accelerating our communication internally. All necessary steps if we are to meet our wider strategic priorities.
There no ping pong table just yet though….