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Want to research a physio-related condition?  A CSP grant could help get you started, as Kate Drury finds out

The CSP’s Charitable Trust has given one physiotherapist a step up on the rung towards carrying out even more research, thanks to an initial research grant from the society’s Physiotherapy Research Foundation.

And now others are being offered the chance to apply for similar funding in this year’s research awards.

Cardiff lecturer and physiotherapist Una Jones has been given the chance to study a little-known aspect of Huntington’s disease thanks to a £8,575 grant awarded in 2009.

Mrs Jones, who is lead researcher on the cross-sectional study, is a lecturer in the School of Healthcare Studies at Cardiff University.

She formerly worked as a physiotherapist in the NHS in respiratory care.

The Charitable Trust grant has rewarded great benefits, both seen and unforeseen, she believes.

‘It has been first step on the ladder of research for me, but it has also encouraged other people from the university to apply,’ says Mrs Jones, a keen supporter of research by physios.

Her research, partly funded by the Charitable Trust, involves a study into the respiratory aspects of Huntington’s disease.

‘Relatively little is known about this aspect of the disease as the disease progresses,’ Mrs Jones said.

The findings will increase knowledge and could direct further research into effectiveness of physiotherapy treatment at different stages of the disease. In her grant application, Mrs Jones said that physiotherapists consider management of respiratory function essential in people with the disease, yet supporting evidence for efficacy of treatment is weak.

Participation is key

The funding was essential to her work, she says.

‘It is really important to keep funding these types of research projects and keep participating [in research] at a national and international level.’

The grant has funded the costs of the observational study including the equipment and travel expenses and although Mrs Jones said it was not a huge grant, it was vital.

‘It was such a benefit even though it is a relatively small amount of money.

The grant has benefited the School of Healthcare Studies by providing the operational costs for the study and that was important in terms of study completion.’

It was also easier to get other grants once she had the experience of grant applications and establishing this track record is also helpful for funders.

Mrs Jones has attracted other funding for her research, a PhD fellowship from the Research Capacity Building Collaboration (a Welsh Government fund) and the European Huntington’s Disease Network.

The Cardiff study has allowed Mrs Jones to move into the neuro physiology aspect of a disease, to work towards her PhD and to initiate a follow-on study into appropriate physiotherapy interventions for people with the disease, which will focus on respiratory muscle training.

Benefits of research

It has also benefited her as a lecturer, giving her information and knowledge she can pass on her to others:

‘It has increased my knowledge of neuro-physiology of respiration in people with neurodegenerative conditions.

This can be transferred to undergraduate and postgraduate students within the framework of research-led learning and teaching.’

The aims of the study are twofold.

The first is to compare respiratory function in people with Huntington’s Disease with healthy controls at different stages of the disease. Mrs Jones will then investigate factors which may affect and be affected by respiratory function in people with Huntington’s disease at different stages of the disease.

The topic arose from ongoing research within the Cardiff physiotherapy research group at Cardiff University, which is linked with a specialist Huntington’s disease research and management clinic at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

As a result of both clinical observations and discussions between the research group and those using the specialist Huntington’s disease clinic, the researchers identified respiratory impairment as an area needing further research.

Mrs Jones opted for Huntingdon’s disease as her area of study, as she knew the university had this specialist knowledge.

Challenges

Applying for funding was the first hurdle.

As it was her first grant, Mrs Jones said one of the challenges for her was the application form and the administration processes attached to that. An upside of this, though, was, she says, ‘that it clarified my thoughts about the study’.

Academic colleagues who had experience in applying for grants helped her, though.

She encourages anyone applying for a grant to seek help from academics and institutions.

Recruiting people for the study was one potential challenge.

Patients were recruited from the clinic based at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. Healthy control subjects were recruited from the carers and partners of people with the disease, who were also identified through the clinic.

Potential participants attending their weekly clinic were approached by Professor Anne Rosser, the clinician responsible for the patients’ care.

Mrs Jones said it had not been too difficult to recruit people for the study due to the support of staff at the clinic.

Finally, as a condition of the grant, Mrs Jones is required to give yearly reports on progress but she has not found this too onerous.

Management strategies

Huntingdon’s disease is a complex neurodegenerative condition because of the behavioural and cognitive issues in involved.

But, says Mrs Jones, the study has allowed ‘new and exciting ways to increase understanding of the illness’, as well as identifying potential management strategies to benefit patients in the long term.

Her grant is nearing the end of its three-year term. She has worked 20 hours a week on the study on while continuing her lecturing duties.

‘It is important for physiotherapists to be involved in both observational studies that increase knowledge of pathologies and intervention studies that provide evidence for practice,’ says Mrs Jones. fl

2011 awards

The following annual research grants were awarded in 2011 by the Foundation:

Scheme A (experienced researchers)

Dr Judy Bradley, University of Ulster , Patterns of physical activity in patients with bronchiectasis:Cross sctional study using quantitative methodology £52,477 over 18 months.

Dr Catherine Mins-Lowe, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust, Treatment for rotator cuff tear: why did the rest and exercise physiotherapy arm of the UKUFF trial fail? £33,494 for one year.

Scheme B (novice researchers)

Philippa Coales, Cardiff University, A Study to investigate the factors acquisition of work related spinal disorders. £17,242 over 28 months Sue Greenhalgh, NHS Bolton,  

An Investigation into the Patient Experience of Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES), £20,000 for one year.

In addition, a special award went to Professor Nadine Foster, Keele University, this was to carry out research in an area specifically identified by the CSP Charitable Trust: Self-referral to physiotherapy for musculoskeletal problems in primary care: stepping up the evidence £199,249 over two years.

Want to find out more about how to apply for the 2012 awards?

How to apply for a Physiotherapy Research Foundation project grant

Interested in research?

Here’s what to do.

The research grants are made in two categories.

  • Scheme A is for experienced researchers focusing on clinical, education or service delivery, with a fund totalling £128,500 available this year.

 

  • Scheme B is for novice researchers, with a total of £63,000 available but individual grants are capped at £20,000.

Usually, one or two research grants are awarded in Scheme A each year and about two to four in Scheme B, depending on the amount of money requested.

It is a two-stage application process – an outline application is due in by 16 March, and applicants are then shortlisted.

Those who pass this stage are invited to make a full application in the autumn.

The grants are awarded in November.

All applications are reviewed by the CSP Charitable Trust Scientific Panel, and independent referees peer review the applications to assess scientific quality and potential patient benefit.

The scheme is funded by the Charitable Trust, which is funded by CSP membership fees, investments and fund-raising.

Deadlines for standard applications are:

Stage one:

  • outline proposal (schemes A and B): 16 March 2012
  • Shortlisted applicants informed: May 2012

Stage 2:

  • full application: September 2012

Grants awarded: November 2012

The CSP Charitable Trust has also made available additional funding for specific research areas based on the CSP research priorities.

These awards have separate deadlines from the annual Foundation awards.

For further information contact David Atkinson on 020 7306 6617 or atkinsond@csp.org.uk

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Article Information

Author(s)

Kate Drury

Issue date

18 January 2012

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