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Research Matters 2017 – Stoke-on-Trent

NCOR to start

Three students presented their research which seemed to give a snapshot of what osteopathy is about, both in the perception of the public, and what I think enthuses the profession. This was prefaced by a talk from Carol Fawkes from NCOR, outlining how using PROMS-the patient reported outcome measures tool can help us learn what our patients are getting from us, and the PILARS patient information and learning and reporting system can help us develop our reflective skills. For those of you not familiar with the work NCOR do, now is the time to familiarise yourselves. Research ideas and outcomes and the ability of the profession to see itself in a realistic light are crucial components of progression towards charter status if that is where we go, and continued acceptance as high quality relevant practitioners in health care.

Student presentations

The student presentations followed and proved a fascinating and varied insight into the emerging osteopathic practitioner. The confidence and quality of the presentations was, in itself, good to see, as well as the evident diversity of experience that mature students bring to their osteopathic studies.

Gluteal muscle strength and activation patterns

First up was Scott Poundall who detailed his findings into studies relating to gluteal muscle strength and activation patterns in patient groups who had -or may be at risk of- low back pain and those without. This is obviously something we as practitioners can relate to, the eternal search for clues and strategies for addressing the many presentations of ‘mechanical low back pain’ that come into our practices. Through a literature review Scott had evaluated a number of studies and talked us through why some were of more value than others and established through his analysis that there was evidence of influence of the gluteal firing pattern and strength in the presence -or absence- of low back pain.

Endocannabinoid system and its role in osteopathic treatment

Ben Hewitt was next with a discussion of the alarmingly complicated sounding endocannabinoid system and its role in osteopathic treatment. This was a very satisfying glimpse into an area I don’t have a great deal of familiarity with but understand some of the principles of. We know how much value there is in systemic wellness, and believe that the totality of the body (system) is the key to its health. Consideration of the endocannabinoid system and its ability to bridge the somatic and neurological tissue and talk of retrograde neuro receptors is something that I hope excites most osteopaths-if initially slightly alarming them with the long words and dusty recollections of 2nd year physiology. This absolutely sparked my curiosity, shading as it did into areas I do have some knowledge of, but hinting at much more there to be discovered, and I like that.

Runner’s gait

Lindsey Courage brought us back to more familiar territory with a discussion of runner’s gait, the connection with possible injury pattern and the likelihood of change under guidance. This is solid osteopathic territory, good quality bio-mechanical assessment and knowledge based advice. Lyndsey presented her findings well and here as was the case with Ben before her I suspected that her previous knowledge gained through an MA in Neurophysiology served her well in the approach to this topic.

Overall it was great to see 5th year students being able to set up such thought provoking and well- presented ideas. That it was all underpinned by a talk from such a leading light as Carol made the process seem one of progression from under to post graduate along that lauded and highly desirable pathway of life long learning.

With many thanks to Bill Garland, DO PgACE. Osteopath and senior lecturer at the  College of Osteopaths for his reflections.


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