Researcher to warn MSPs that the Green Man is “too short”

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 10:11:00 BST

“People with arthritis can’t make the Green Man and don’t want to go into town anymore” will be the message to MSPs later today.

Glasgow Caledonian University's Professor Steultjens will warn MSPs at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow that patients and older people are being left isolated and embarrassed as they can’t cross the street in time.

The problem has been identified as part of preparations for a large-scale £1.8m study to help improve posture, balance and stability for people with rheumatoid arthritis.


The study will take place over the next five years thanks to funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

Researchers are investigating a new treatment for walking problems in arthritis, known as Gait rehabilitation, which has been proven to help patients with mobility issues resulting from neurological conditions.

During preparations for the Gait Rehabilitation in Early Arthritis Study, the GREAT study, researchers are reporting a recurring issue raised by patients and members of the public taking part in the preliminary group investigations.

“We know from speaking to patients that the issue makes them feel embarrassed and unsafe and is leading to social isolation for many. People just don’t want to go into town anymore and this is one of the main reasons given.”

Professor Steultjens researches the bio-mechanics of arthritis as Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Health and Life Sciences. He is due to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Chronic Pain, where he has been asked to present an update on his findings.

“Specifically on the Green Man, crossing times at pedestrian lights are currently set in the expectation that a person is able to walk at a speed of 1.2m/s (roughly 2.7mph). Research by others has already shown that 85% of older women (age >65) cannot walk at this speed.

“A small change to the timing on the Green Man light could have a massive impact to the lives of many and social participation.  I do not feel this story about the many people suffering because of the Green Man is well enough known, and I think it is time that city centres consider whether they are catering for an ageing population and people who experience difficulties in walking.”

The GREAT study in musculoskeletal health is led by Professor Steultjens and Dr Gordon Hendry and will work with Keele University, King’s College London, Salford University and the University of Glasgow. The study will publish its overall findings in 2022.