Specialist hand physiotherapist Lisa Newington
Ms Newington, who works for London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust, hopes this will lead to the first evidence-based return to work guidelines for patients who have carpal tunnel release surgery.
She said applied for the three-year doctoral research fellowship because she was aware that patients were receiving variable advice on when to return to normal function.
Carpal tunnel release surgery is common, with more than 51,000 NHS operations a year in England, according to 2012 data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
But when Ms Newington researched the area in 2015 for a smaller fellowship she found there was no consensus on when and how patients should return to work after surgery.
‘It could be anything from four days to three months,’ she said. ‘I think it’s the case that many patients are advised not to do things for longer than is necessary and this can delay rehab progress.
‘Ultimately, I hope to produce evidence-based guidelines on when these patients should return to work.’
Her fellowship is funded by NIHR and hosted by Arthritis Research UK at the University of Southampton. It will involve a range of research, including a survey of clinicians and patient focus groups.
Ms Newington will continue to work one day a month as a clinician. ‘This fellowship gives me the chance to think about a clinical academic career path,’ she added.