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Research

Research in one of the Centre's labs

Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases account for more than one-half of all chronic conditions in people over 50 years of age in developed countries.

In Australia, more than 6.3 million Australians (31%) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition. Arthritis affects nearly 17% of the population and back disorders affect approximately 15%. This compares to 5% for cardiovascular disease and 4% for diabetes. Furthermore, one in two women and one in four men will be diagnosed with osteoporosis in their lifetime, with its high risk of fracture.

Through our research, COTR aims to improve the management of musculoskeletal conditions by a better understanding of the causes and biology, develop improved surgical and medical approaches to management and thereby prevent hospital admissions, get patients out of hospital quicker to reduce health care costs and to rapidly return patients to normal activities of daily living and well-being.

  • Adelaide Spinal Research Group

    Royal Adelaide Hospital Campus

    Sitting within COTR is the Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research (ACSR), which hosts a group of Clinicians, Engineers and Basic Scientists located within the Royal Adelaide Hospital and SA Pathology. Professor Brian Freeman is the Research Director at the ACSR.

    Spinal disorders and pain present a large socioeconomic burden in Australia. Back complaints are the 6th most common reason to visit a GP, and 80% of Australians will experience low back pain in their life. Because the primary function of the spine is to transmit loads and enable motion during every day activities, it is important to study how spinal structures respond to loads and motion, and how this response changes with age, disease and injury. The group also study spinal cord injury and ways to improve outcomes from this potentially devastating event. Another important research area is paediatric orthopaedics, in particular addressing abnormalities of the spine in children. The ACSR brings together clinicians and scientists in a multidisciplinary program spanning bone structure and cell biology, intervertebral disc biology, biomechanics, pre-clinical studies and clinical research.

    The ACSR biomechanics laboratory has an array of specialised equipment including an Instron 6-axis spine simulator and materials testing machine, two AMTI 6-axis load cells, an Optotrak Certus motion capture system, National Instruments high speed data acquisition system, two Olympus high speed cameras, intervertebral disc pressure transducers, Wacom tablet monitor, and a specimen preparation laboratory.

    The ACSR welcomes enquiries from students with Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Science, and Medicine/Surgery backgrounds, wishing to undertake Honours, Masters and PhD research projects. We also assist a number of orthopaedic residents and fellows to carry out biomechanics projects in our laboratory.

    Research Projects

    • Timing of spinal cord decompression following traumatic spinal cord injury
    • Bone quality of the human facet joint: the effects of age and gender
    • Innervation of the bony compartments of the human spine: investigating the relationship between innervation and pain tolerance
    • Establishing the human age-equivalence of the immature sheep spine with respect to tissue maturation and biomechanics
    • Investigating the mechanical causes of pars interarticularis fractures
    • Investigating the relationship between abdominal muscles and degenerative spondylolisthesis
    • Modelling cervical intervertebral disc degeneration using a sheep model
    • Biomechanical evaluation of spinal surgery techniques and implants
    • Injury mechanisms for acute spinal column and cord trauma
    • Bending and lifting techniques to minimise lumbar spine loading and twisting
    • Characterising the microstructure and biomechanical properties of spinal tissues

    • Lead Researchers

      Professor Brian Freeman, Dr Julia Kuliwaba, Dr Claire Jones

      Contact

      Dr Claire Jones
      Phone: +61 8 8222 3056
      Email: claire.jones2@health.sa.gov.au

       

  • Joint Replacement and Reconstruction Research Unit

    Royal Adelaide Hospital Campus

    The Joint Replacement and Reconstruction Research Unit of COTR conducts research into a broad range of areas related to primary and complex revision hip and knee replacement as well as joint reconstruction for congenital joint disorders. The research opportunities include epidemiology using a 25 year prospective joint replacement database, implant wear studies, clinical studies and randomised controlled trials, basic bone biology and pathology, diagnostics, anatomy and surgical techniques, gait analysis and mechanical testing.

    Research Projects

    • Risk factors for complications after joint replacement surgery - a retrospective database review
    • Longitudinal patterns of general health and musculoskeletal health status of persons undergoing hip and knee replacement
    • Optimising surgical approach for joint replacement and reconstruction
    • Wear, osteolysis and loosening of hip and knee replacement
    • Implant wear and failure – a laboratory investigation comparing current to earlier generation implants
    • Bone grafting at revision joint replacement

    • Lead Researchers

      Associate Professor Bogdan Solomon, Associate Professor Gerald Atkins, Mr Stuart Callary, Dr Oksana Holubowycz, Ms Kerry Costi, Ms Marg McGee, Professor David Findlay, Professor Donald Howie

      Contact

      Associate Professor Bogdan Solomon
      Email: bogdan.solomon@health.sa.gov.au

      Mr Stuart Callary
      Phone: +61 8 8222 4079
      Email: stuart.callary@health.sa.gov.au

  • Lower Limb Trauma Research Unit

    Royal Adelaide Hospital Campus

    Musculoskeletal injuries comprise the majority of the more than 425,000 hospital admissions per year for trauma. In the younger adult, sporting injuries, road accidents and occupational injuries contribute to most physical trauma. In the elderly, fragility fractures arising from low impact falls are the primary causes of injury, with a rate of 175 hip fractures per 100,000 persons in Australians aged 40 years or older. Through orthopaedic trauma research, we aim for optimal management of musculoskeletal injury. We have a multifaceted research program, covering bone biology, advanced imaging, biomechanics, anatomy, pathology and clinical trials and opportunities exist for higher degree research in lower limb trauma covering one or more of these areas.

    Research Projects

    • Developing innovative surgical procedures that enable faster healing and get individuals with fractures back on their feet faster
    • Redefining weight-bearing regimes after pelvic and lower limb fractures to reduce complications and increase acute care efficiencies
    • Improving the management of trochanteric hip fractures and return to community ambulation following fragility hip fracture
    • Hip abductor function following intramedullary versus extramedullary fixation of hip fracture

    • Lead Researchers

      Mr Stuart Callary, Associate Professor Bogdan Solomon, Associate Professor Mellick Chehade, Associate Professor Tony Pohl

      Contact

      Associate Professor Bogdan Solomon
      Email: bogdan.solomon@health.sa.gov.au

      Mr Stuart Callary
      Phone: +61 8 8222 4079
      Email: stuart.callary@health.sa.gov.au

  • Bone Cell Biology Group

    Royal Adelaide Hospital Campus

    We are an internationally recognised research group running an integrated program of research into the cell biology of the major bone cell types, osteoclasts, osteoblasts and osteocytes. Our work is funded by competitive grants from the NH&MRC. The group consists of 4 post-docs, 2 Research Assistants and 5 current HDR students.

    Research Projects

    Projects are available in all of our major research areas including:

    • the role of the osteocyte-derived protein Sclerostin in bone remodelling
    • human osteocyte differentiation
    • osteocytic osteolysis
    • FGF23 production in osteocytes
    • microRNA control of bone remodelling
    • the effect of orthopaedic wear particles on osteocyte activity
    • vitamin D metabolism in osteoclasts, osteoblasts and osteocytes

    • Lead Researchers

      Associate Professor Gerald Atkins (Head), Professor David Findlay

      Contact

      Associate Professor Gerald Atkins
      Phone: +61 8 8222 3107
      Email: gerald.atkins@adelaide.edu.au

  • Women's and Children's Hospital Campus
    A young orthopaedic patient at the WCH

    The Research Team at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Women's and Children's Hospital comprises orthopaedic surgeons, doctors-in-training, medical and research/higher degree students. It is supported by a Clinical Research Manager, Research Scientist and Research Assistant. The Department has a long track record of internationally recognised research activity and publications including basic science and clinical research investigating a range of paediatric musculoskeletal conditions.

    Current areas of interest for the Research Team at the WCH campus include mechanisms of bone growth and repair, paediatric musculoskeletal infections, the management of congenital and developmental musculoskeletal deformities such as scoliosis and lower limb deformity and paediatric trauma.

    Research Projects

    There are a number of planned and ongoing research projects that would be suitable for PhD or Honours students including the following:

    • Long-term population-based study of paediatric patients undergoing of scoliosis correction utilising the South Australian Cancer Register, Birth Defects Register and Pregnancy Outcome Data
    • Management of clubfoot in South Australia: epidemiology and outcomes
    • Developmental dysplasia of the hip: risk factors, management and outcomes

    • See www.wch.sa.gov.au/services/az/divisions/psurg/orthosurg/index.html for recent publications and additional details of the Research Group and projects.

      Lead Researcher
      A young orthopaedic patient at the WCH

      Associate Professor Peter Cundy

      Contact

      Dr Nicole Williams
      Phone:  +61 8 8161 7059
      Email: n.williams@adelaide.edu.au

      Ms Georgia Antoniou
      Phone:  +61 8 8161 7059
      Email: georgia.antoniou@health.sa.gov.au

  • Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Program

    Modbury and Royal Adelaide Hospital Campuses

    There are a range of projects available in the area of upper limb, lower limb, pelvis, injury, pathology, surgery and medical device development and evaluation using state of the art biomechanical testing facilities. The Centre's biomechanics laboratory houses an Instron 8874 bi-axial materials testing machine, and custom testing apparatus, and accesses a variety of other equipment via the Adelaide Centre for Spinal Research. Please also refer to Adelaide Spinal Research Group and Lower Limb Trauma Research Group for further projects.

    Research Projects

    • Evaluating the effect of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and catch-up growth on the mechanical behaviour of bone
    • Biomechanical evaluation of novel rotator cuff repair techniques and anchors
    • Upper limb fracture mechanisms

    • Lead Researchers

      Dr Claire Jones, Professor Greg Bain

      Contact

      Dr Claire Jones
      Phone: +61 8 8222 3056
      Email: claire.jones2@health.sa.gov.au

  • South Australian Spinal Cord Injury Service

    Hampstead Campus

    A patient at Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre

    Our group's main interest is in human spinal cord injury, a complex neurological disorder for which there is a lack of defined preventative treatments. Our research is focused on the broad processes of bone healing and the degradation and repair of bone, including both anabolic and catabolic processes, as well as determining the cellular contributions and molecular signalling. Specific health consequences and disease processes to which the bone endocrine system may contribute also are a focus. Our group has expertise in medical, behavioural and basic sciences that gives an ability to examine questions that are both mechanistically informative and clinically relevant.

    Research Projects

    Projects investigate in spinal cord injured patients (both traumatic and those with non traumatic lesions) the anti-anabolic and catabolic processes responsible for the accelerated bone resorption with a focus on relationships between muscle-bone interaction and both bone homeostasis and mechanotransduction. Closely related projects utilise ex vivo and in vitro tools to begin to examine how Wnt pathway modulators might diverge in their skeletal actions in disease states to affect human health. We are also beginning to explore links between the renal-bone endocrine system and the health outcomes of spinal cord injured patients. These projects will help to provide translation insight as to the requirement, or benefits of therapeutic approaches for individuals with spinal cord injury.

    • Role of Muscle–bone Interaction in Spinal Cord Injury Bone Loss
    • Effects of Wnt Pathway Modulators on Lipid Metabolism
    • Vitamin D Status and Susceptibility for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders in Spinal Cord Injured Inpatients

    • Lead Researchers
      Rehabiliation in progress at Hampstead

      Dr Ruth Marshall, Dr Jillian Clark

      Contact

      Dr Ruth Marshall
      Phone: +61 8 8222 1630
      Email: ruth.marshall@health.sa.gov.au

      Dr Jillian Clark
      Phone: +61 8 8222 1651
      Email: jillian.clark@health.sa.gov.au

Centre for Orthopaedic and Trauma Research
Address

Level 4
Bice Building
Royal Adelaide Hospital
SA 5005 AUSTRALIA

Contact

T: +61 8 8222 5661
F: +61 8 8232 3065
Email

 

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