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Reaching for new heights

Each year a CSP trust helps novice and veteran researchers alike to pursue their goals. The 2013 awards are offering even more funding.Robert Millett catches up with two previous recipients

There has been a growing interest in promoting people’s well-being in recent years, rather than focusing on the more traditional areas of treating illnesses or preventing sickness.

Now this topical issue has been highlighted by the CSP Charitable Trust, which has just unveiled details of a special research award worth award of £300,000.

This year’s special award supplements the usual sum of around £200,000, which the trust allocates each year to members who are keen to conduct a research project, bringing the total to £500,000.

This year’s extra funding has been earmarked for a ‘mental and physical health and well-being’ project.

The topic’s title is: ‘The clinical and cost effectiveness of programmes to change physical activity behaviour for people with long-term conditions’.

Commenting on the announcement of the additional funds, Sue Rees, chair of the trustees, said: ‘The Charitable Trust is proud to support physiotherapy research in the UK each year and in doing so build the evidence base that informs physiotherapy practice.

‘In 2013, we are once again in the fortunate position of being able to offer additional funding to target a research topic of particular importance to the profession.’

An independent CSP committee oversees the allocation of awards. 

CSP-funded research in 2012

Frederike van Wijck, a physiotherapist and researcher into neurological rehabilitation based at Glasgow Caledonian University, was the researcher who caught the committee’s eye last year.

She received a special award of £198,750 to fund a project focusing on ‘upper limb rehabilitation after stroke’.

Dr van Wijck says the award enabled her and her colleagues to investigate a vital issue for both patients who have survived a stroke and their therapists: arm function.

The research bid was titled ‘Early VERsus Later Augmented Physiotherapy (EVERLAP) compared with usual upper limb physiotherapy: an exploratory randomised controlled trial of arm function after stroke’.

The researchers in the Glasgow trial will compare the progress of patients who have been assigned to one of three groups:  some will receive treatment as usual, while those assigned to the second group will receive an ‘early’ intervention (within three weeks of having a stroke).

Those in the third group will receive a ‘delayed’ intervention (three months after having a stroke).  

Dr van Wijck explains that the study hopes to address two research questions:

How do the three groups compare in terms of arm function, ‘real-life’ arm use, impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, goal attainment, mood, carer burden and healthcare costs?  

What is the feasibility of conducting a definitive randomised controlled trial of augmented arm physiotherapy, and what would be the appropriate sample size?

Members of the research team come from three universities: Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde and Glasgow.

Others come from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire and national stroke charity Different Strokes.

They offer expertise from the fields of physiotherapy, stroke medicine, statistics, engineering, health economics, movement sciences and stroke.

‘This allows us to explore some exciting avenues, including the application of mobile phones in self-management, “real life” arm use after stroke, integrated clinical-biomechanical assessment of arm function and  healthcare costs,’ says Dr van Wijck.

Research Foundation awards

As well as offering special awards the CSP Charitable Trust also provides members with a number of Physiotherapy Research Foundation awards every year.

One of last year’s recipients was Rachel Thomas, a senior clinical link lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of the West of England (UWE).

Ms Thomas received funding of £19,961 and was one of six research physiotherapists to receive an award.

She is now using the funding to conduct an 18-month study that will explore strategies that enhance physical activity in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

‘My interests lie in the management of long term conditions and health promotion,’ says Ms Thomas.

‘I applied for a CSP research award because I was keen to become actively involved in research and this grant has allowed me to fund a small scale project which is due to begin shortly.’

Her research aims to explore the strategies employed by patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are taking part in regular physical activity and to find out whether these strategies might suit a wider group of patients with the chronic, auto-immune condition.

This will be addressed through conducting semi-structured interviews with adults with rheumatoid arthritis who say they meet the national guidelines for physical activity.

Ms Thomas’s bid for funding was backed by Fiona Cramp, director of postgraduate research studies and associate professor in musculoskeletal health at UWE’s faculty of health and life sciences, and Sarah Hewlett, Arthritis Research UK professor of rheumatology nursing, who were co-applicants.

They will supervise the research study, which will be based at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

‘I’ve had excellent support and encouragement from Dr Cramp and Professor Hewlett and I’m really pleased that my application for this award was successful,’ says Ms Thomas. fl

CSP Charitable Trust awards

Set up in 1980, the CSP Charitable Trust is an independent charity that supports education and research relevant to the practice of physiotherapy.

The trust supports the advancement of physiotherapy education and research and provides funding for research projects proposed by both novice and experienced researchers.

The deadline for outline applications for the Physiotherapy Research Foundation Awards is 15 March 2013. The deadline for the Physical Activity Behaviour Award is 11 April.

Details are available at the CSP website: www.csp.org.uk/charitabletrust (follow the links). For more information about each award scheme, email: Physicalactivityaward@csp.org.uk

The Charitable Trust is entirely separate from the CSP’s Benevolent Fund.

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