Dr Chris Littlewood recently received a 'Service of the Year' award from the Association of Orthopaedic Chartered Physiotherapists.
The award recognized the practical implications of a pragmatic randomised controlled trial conducted in the NHS (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/13/62). The trial evaluated a self-managed exercise programme versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy (pain in the shoulder muscles and tendons). The research was conducted as part of an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship and concluded that both approaches were comparable in terms of treatment effectiveness over the short, mid and long term.
This was an interest finding; one exercise prescribed in relation to the most painful shoulder movement demonstrated comparable results to usual physiotherapy practice which might include a wide range of exercises, hands-on techniques, electrical modalities, acupuncture etc. To this end the study served to challenge some fundamental assumptions that underpin current practice.
Alongside this the patients undertaking the painful exercise found it acceptable because they understood why they were being asked to exercise in that way and they also valued the opportunity to self-manage rather than being required to return to a clinic on a regular basis.
Chris is currently continuing to pursue this line of investigation with the aim of optimising the self-managed exercise programme to further improve clinical outcomes for patients with this common and burdensome problem.