Key Projects and Expertise

martijnLed by Professor Martijn Steultjens, the research in the musculoskeletal health group includes degenerative and inflammatory joint diseases and other chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes. 

In the musculoskeletal field we have an overarching theme of understanding the pathways that lead from primary disease mechanisms to impairment and disability across a range of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. This includes inflammatory and degenerative joint and soft-tissue disease across adult and childhood forms of arthritis and regional musculoskeletal pain disorders.

In the neurological rehabilitation field, the aim is to improve functional outcomes for people with neurological conditions by designing and evaluating the clinical and cost effectiveness of a range of intervention strategies, and by exploring the processes mediating changes in outcome. Conditions include: stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injury and Parkinson ’s disease. A key driver in this portfolio of work is the relevance of outcomes to people with neurological conditions, hence evaluating personal goal attainment is an important part of the outcome assessment toolkit.

The team has a programme of systematic literature reviews, applied clinical, inception cohort, and intervention studies, as well as applied technology and outcome development projects.  In collaboration with orthopaedic, rheumatology and biomedical science colleagues we are attempting to unravel the role of joint structure and function (biomechanics) and degenerative changes to cartilage and inflammation in knee osteoarthritis.  This study will involve the use of advanced measurements of knee joint function and magnetic resonance imaging along with tissue sampling and identification of inflammatory and other biochemical markers of disease.

The A-FOOTPRINT project, funded by the European Commission (EC) under the 7th Framework programme, was coordinated by Professor Jim Woodburn. The aim of the project was develop novel, highly-personalised ankle-foot and foot orthoses exploiting new capabilities with 3D additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies. The results have impacted on industry with the adoption of new 3D manufacturing processes in an SME pilot factory and the production and commercialisation of new orthotic products.

GCU has received significant additional grant funding, including £10,000 for work by research fellow Dr Scott Telfer for the development of low cost personalised orthotics for musculoskeletal disorders from Tenovus Scotland.

Research expertise in orthoses has led to a Marie Curie Fellowship Award. Leading the D-FOOTPRINT project, Dr Telfer will spend 12 months with Professor Peter Cavanagh and his Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine team at Washington University in Seattle developing a novel orthotic intervention for people with diabetes at high risk of foot ulceration and amputation.

Dr Telfer will be developing finite element simulations of 3D printed orthoses designed to redistribute tissue damaging stresses which can lead to ulceration in patients with peripheral neuropathy (absent pain sensation).

Dr Cavanagh’s research interests include lower extremity biomechanics, athletic footwear, bone loss during long duration spaceflight, bone health in women on earth, and the foot complications of diabetes.  He is the principal investigator of an experiment that was recently completed on-board the International Space Station.

In work funded by Arthritis Research UK, Dr Debbie Turner is developing a musculoskeletal ultrasound training resource. Researchers are currently investigating pressure distribution patterns in the early stages of arthritis; pressure as a predictive factor for incident foot ulceration in diabetes; and the use of pressure in developing design rules for customised foot orthotics.

Dr Frederike van Wijck has experience in systematic reviews and the design and evaluation of evidence-based interventions, as well as using technology in outcome assessment. Her current work concentrates on upper limb rehabilitation and the other on physical activity after stroke. 

Further information:


Professor Martijn Steultjens

Tel: +44(0)141 331 8779
Email: martijn.steultjens@gcu.ac.uk