ENU researchers design prehab service to revolutionise pre-surgery patient care

The waiting time for hip and knee replacement increased from 12 weeks to 18 months because of Covid and the backlog it created for the NHS.

Such a long period can considerably decrease the quality of life and the chance of quick post-surgery recovery for the patient. The good news: a group of ENU researchers may have just found the perfect solution.

Patients waiting for hip or knee replacements live with severe pain symptoms caused by damaged joint surfaces. The constant soreness and discomfort reduce people’s mobility and fitness, increasing their chances for gaining weight and extending the likely time of post-surgery recovery.

According to Edinburgh Napier’s Professor Anna Campbell, “Evidence is emerging that providing virtual exercise, nutritional and emotional support to people waiting for operations – or during treatment – has the potential to significantly improve their physical and psychological wellbeing and quality of life.”

The hip and knee (HAK) prehab intervention is a pilot service designed by ENU lecturers and researchers – Dr Kostas Kaliarntas, Professor Anna Campbell, and Dr Amanda Pitkethly from the School of Applied Sciences; and Dr David Hamilton, Dr Coral Hanson and Professor Lis Neubeck from the School of Health and Social Care. They worked in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nick Clement and anaesthetist Dr Elizabeth Brun Lacey, from NHS Lothian.

The service is now being funded by NHS Lothian for approximately 18 months. Its function is to provide virtual lifestyle behaviour change programmes that will increase the fitness and wellbeing of patients waiting for hip and knee replacement. These include individual online exercise sessions, dietary advice, and emotional support; all provided by clinical exercise physiologists.

Similar services developed by ENU researchers have been successfully delivered to cancer and cardiac patients, such as the ongoing Safefit trial led by Professor Anna Campbell and her team.

The new HAK prehab intervention follows the Safefit protocol and researchers aim to recruit 126 hip and knee replacement patients, supplying each of them with a 6-month virtual prehabilitation service.

The clinical exercise physiologists will monitor behavioural changes and measure outcomes by conducting interviews and exploring service users’ experiences. If the pilot proves beneficial for patients, and feasible for the NHS, it could revolutionise pre-surgery healthcare.

Dr Kostas Kaliarntas added, “This project gives us exciting opportunities for further collaborations with NHS, placement opportunities for our MSc Clinical Exercise Science and Physical Activity & Health undergraduate students, and potential follow up external funding applications.”

To find out more about becoming a clinical exercise physiologist by studying BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health or MSc Clinical Exercise Science at Edinburgh Napier University, click the links.

BSc (Hons) Physical Activity & Health Undergraduate Full-time

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Growing the cycling industry in Scotland

In 2023, Scotland is to host the Cycling World Championships, a two-week extravaganza that will bring together 13 international competitions in one country for the first time.

This inaugural mega event will provide an outstanding opportunity to showcase the Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland (MTBCOS) research group and a new Innovation Centre at Innerleithen, in the Scottish Borders.

Edinburgh Napier University’s Professor Geraint Florida-James is playing a key role in establishing the new innovation centre – which marks an important milestone for the sport of cycling at home and worldwide. An applied researcher who is passionate about sports science and cycling, Professor Florida-James has been involved with the biking industry for nearly twenty years, also coaching athletes for the Downhill and the Cross-Country World Cups, as well as Professional Enduro Racers.

The MTBCOS is a project that started in 2014, with Edinburgh Napier University working in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Cycling. Its role has been to help grow a Scottish cycling industry, with relevant research and help businesses take advantage of one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. The group provides support with market research, developing, testing, and launching new products.

The success of the project caught the attention of the Scottish and UK Governments and raised the profile of the sector internationally. As a result, with an additional partner, the South of Scotland Enterprise, the Centre has been fundamental in securing £19M of Borderlands Regional Growth Deal Funding to purchase the Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen, an old textile mill that has been out of use since 2013. Professor Florida-James emphasises that partnerships such as these are key for the Centre’s continued success.

Also included in the Borderlands Project is the first mechanical lift-assisted Bike Park in the Northern Hemisphere, which will be with a short ride of the Mill. Once renovated, the Mill and the surrounding world-class bike tracks will serve as an innovation site for the cycling industry ­- led by Edinburgh Napier – where new products can be developed and tested. In addition, the Hub will also explore supply chain issues and can connect local entrepreneurs with international audiences.

Professor Florida-James says, “we expect huge international interest around the 2023 Championships, which will help more companies become aware of the research and development potential here, and the potential to reshore some of the cycling industry to Scotland”.

The Centre has equally been supporting internal partners within Edinburgh Napier who are involved with mental health and wellbeing research, to identify ways cycling can boost these issues in Scotland and beyond. Various schools within the University will combine their research with the Centre through the new Innovation Hub, recognising the opportunities cycling presents for future health, wellbeing and economic development.