Health Sciences

Musculoskeletal Research Group

Researchers:
Prof Julie Hides (View staff profile)
Dr Melinda Smith (View staff profile)
Dr Dilani Mendis (View staff profile)
Pamela Teys  (View staff profile)
Sonia Coates (View staff profile)
Dr Sue Reid (View staff profile)

Higher degree research students:
Linda Blackwell
Alex Clarke
Ellen Jang
Jan Gildea

Areas of research:

  • Lumbo-pelvic stability
  • Sports injury prevention and management
  • Manual therapy for the neck and shoulder
  • Pain management

Lumbo-pelvic stability

The main focus of our research is the prevention and management of musculoskeletal joint dysfunction through therapeutic exercise as it relates to the muscles which directly or indirectly protect the joints from injury. Investigations are focused on the relationship between active stabilisation of the lumbo-pelvic region and hip complexes and the effective and efficient management of musculoskeletal injury.

Collaborations:

  • Professor Tania Winzenberg and Dr Michelle Callisaya, The Tasmanian Physiotherapy Research Group, Menzies Research Institute, Australia
  • Mater Back Stability Clinic, Mater Health Services, Brisbane, Australia (Director : Linda Blackwell)
  • Gunda Lambrecht, Physiotherapist, European Space Agency, Germany
  • Helen Littleworth and Mark Hollands, New Zealand Academy of Sport, New Zealand
  • Mark Strudwick, Centre for Advanced Imaging, The University of Queensland
  • Janet Millner and Dr Jane Zochling, Royal Hobart Hospital and Menzies Research Institute Tasmania
  • NBC Consortium (collaboration between ACU, ESA and Northumbria University, UK)
  • Dr Dorothee Debuse and Nick Caplan, Northumbria University, UK
  • Simon Evetts, Wyle Laboratories and EAC, Cologne, Germany
  • Assoc Prof Stephen Wilson, School of IT & Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Dr Andrew Rotstein, Victoria House Imaging, Melbourne
  • AFL Research Board of Australia
  • Brisbane Lions FC
  • Carlton FC

Current projects in lumbo-pelvic stability

Mater / ACU Back Stability Clinic project
This clinic was established at the Mater Health Services, South Brisbane in 1999, to assess and treat the deep muscles of the lumbo-pelvic region primarily in patients with low back pain. Real-time ultrasound imaging is used to view and assess the dysfunction in the muscle system and provide feedback for rehabilitation exercise protocols. A research project, funded by Queensland Health, conducted clinical evaluation of service delivery outcomes in low back pain. Reports were submitted to Queensland Health. Linda Blackwell and Ellen Jang are HDRs continuing with this line of investigation.

European Space Agency (ESA) projects
Drs Hides, Stanton and Mendis have been involved in projects studying muscle atrophy, bone density changes, low back pain and the effects of Whole Body Vibration on trunk and hip muscles. They have worked closely with Gunda Lambrecht in these studies, who currently works for ESA and conducts rehabilitation for the European astronauts when they land. Measures and treatment techniques developed by the Lumbo-pelvic Stability Research Group were used in the first and second Berlin Bed Rest Studies. Results of this research have provided information on the effects of a microgravity environment on the musculoskeletal system and the relationship between these effects and the development of musculoskeletal injury and pain on earth. The NBC (Newcastle, Brisbane, Cologne) Rehabilitation Collaboration is continuing this work, and aims to improve the operational assessment of trunk stability before and after long duration space missions.

Muscle imbalance and sport projects
Our research team has worked with the AFL Research Board of Australia, Brisbane Lions FC, Carlton FC, Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence, New Zealand Academy of Sport, Cycling New Zealand and the Australian Ballet. The focus of these projects has been to identify muscle imbalances associated with different sports as well as evaluation of lumbo-pelvic pain in elite athletes. We have used MRI and Ultrasound imaging to quantify impairments and imbalances and have developed effective rehabilitation strategies for elite athletes. Our group has been successful at predicting lower limb injuries using measurements of muscle morphology. Motor control intervention programs have been found to be effective in decreasing the incidence of lower limb injuries.


Sports injury prevention and management

The main focus of our research is the prevention and management of sports injuries. Investigations are focused on the identification of intrinsic factors for sports injuries, development of screening protocols in the prevention of sports injuries and developing effective interventions for the management of sports injuries.

Collaborations:

  • Brisbane Lions FC
  • Carlton FC
  • Geelong FC
  • Royal Australian Air Force, Amberley, Australia
  • Dr Mark Creaby, School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University
  • Dr Jason Bonacci, Deacon University, Geelong, Australia
  • Professor Thomas McPoil, Regis University, Denver, USA
  • Professor Bill Vicenzino, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Geoff Crowley, Physiotherapist, The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  • Dr Kay Crossley, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  • Eva Ageberg, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  • Professor Nancy Low Choy, Joint Appointment ACU & Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane
  • David Battersby, Physiologic, Robina, Gold Coast
  • Amir Takla, Ivanhoe Sports & Physiotherapy Clinic, Melbourne & Bond University, Gold Coast
  • David Francis, Physioworks Health Group & Collingwood Football Club, Melbourne
  • Dr John O’Donnell, Hip Arthroscopy Australia, Richmond

Current projects in sports injury prevention and management

Taping and exercise for the treatment of exercise related leg pain
Our research team is conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of taping and exercise in the management of a common lower limb overuse condition, exercise related leg pain (ERLP). Specifically we are comparing the use of traditional rigid sports taping with the more recent elastic taping techniques. As part of this trial we will also evaluate exercises to strengthen the hip and foot muscles.

Clinical tests in the screening of sports injuries
Our research team has worked with the Royal Australian Air Force, Brisbane Lions FC, Carlton FC, Geelong FC and recreational athletes from the local community. The focus of these projects is to identify tests of trunk and lower limb control (such as a single leg squat) that can be used in a clinical setting to screen for lower limb injuries. As part of these projects we are also aiming to better understand the factor(s) of trunk and lower limb control (e.g. muscle strength, muscle size, muscle activation) that are represented by a clinician’s rating of performance on these tests.

The role of the hip in lower limb sports injuries
Our research team has worked with the Royal Australian Air Force, Lions FC, Carlton FC, Geelong FC, Collingwood FC, Gold Coast Suns FC and recreational athletes from the local community. The focus of these projects is to investigate the relationship between hip muscle morphology/function, clinical measures and lower limb injuries. Projects include the identification of altered hip muscle morphology and function in specific sports injury groups, such as Achilles tendinopathy and clinical measures of hip function in elite football players with hip joint pathology such as femoroacetabular impingement. Other projects are prospectively investigating the relationship of hip muscle morphology and function with occurrence of lower limb injuries.


Pain management

Collaborations:

  • Dr Andrew Leaver, Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Martin Mackey, Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Paulo Ferreira, Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Debra Shirley, Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney
  • Ronda Smith, Physiotherapist, Sydney Pain Management Centre
  • Rhiannon Lindsey, Physiotherapist, Sydney Pain Management Centre

Current projects in pain management

Analysis of patients with chronic pain referred to an Australian pain management centre
Dr Andrew Leaver, Ms Karyn Whelan, Ms Katie Shipp, Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney and School of Physiotherapy, Australian Catholic University, Ronda Smith and Rhiannon Lindsey, Physiotherapists, Sydney Pain Management Centre.

The aims of this study are to describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of people referred to a private multidisciplinary pain management clinic and identify features associated with higher levels of disability in this group.

The research design involves a quantitative retrospective file review. A selection of questionnaires relating to chronic pain have been completed by patients at the pain management centre during their initial consultation.

Who benefits from conditioning programs for workers with back pain?
Dr Andrew Leaver, Dr Martin Mackey, Dr Paulo Ferreira, Dr Debra Shirley, Ms Karyn Whelan, Rhiannon Lindsey. Discipline of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney and School of Physiotherapy, Australian Catholic University.