Research makes a difference

Research in Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Prosthetics and Orthotics is making a difference to health and wellbeing

Informed decision-making

Michael Dillon, Professor in Prosthetics and Orthotics, and Head of the Department of Community and Clinical Health, has co-developed the Amputation Decision Aid.

“We have heard first-hand from patients about their experience of partial foot and transtibial amputation,” explains Dillon. “Unfortunately, many people felt poorly informed about what the surgery involved and had little knowledge about the likely outcomes or the risk of complications.”

In response, Dillon and colleagues developed the Amputation Decision Aid to encourage shared decision-making. It is a collaborative process that enables patients and healthcare professionals to have meaningful conversations about a particular healthcare decision, such as the choice between two types of amputation surgery.

The Amputation Decision Aid website also includes a discussion guide for clinicians, and a series of animated training videos.

“We hope the Amputation Decision Aid helps people make truly informed decisions about amputation surgery,” Dillon says.

Improving rehabilitation outcomes

Dr Ebonie Rio is a Research Fellow in the La Trobe Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre.

“I am working to improve rehabilitation outcomes for people experiencing pain,” says Rio. “Traditional rehabilitation for injuries like tendon pain focus on the injured body part, when in fact there are also changes to muscles, the spinal cord and the brain.”

Understanding these changes, together with the unique clinical profile of the individual, can help researchers and clinicians to design targeted treatment programs.

“I am passionate about combining exercise regimes with techniques from neuroscience, including virtual reality, to make new rehabilitation programs that are fun and effective,” adds Rio. “I hope that my research will help to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with pain.”

Comfortable footwear

Comfortable footwear gives us a sense of wellbeing, assists physical activity and may reduce injury. But what makes a shoe comfortable?

New research has reviewed 100+ studies on footwear to determine what makes a shoe comfortable, including design, insoles, sole flexibility, temperature and humidity.

The review, by Professor Hylton Menz and Dr Daniel Bonanno, found that while footwear selection is influenced by economics, culture and function, the most important consideration, comfort, is dependent on the footwear design, and physiological and psychological factors.

“Studies indicate that well-fitted, lightweight shoes with soft midsoles and curved rocker-soles are generally perceived to be most comfortable,” says Professor Menz. “How other features, including sole flexibility, insoles, temperature and humidity impact comfort was less clear, and varies according to the population, setting and utility.”

The team also found that perception is important. While there was no association between footwear cost and comfort, for example, red insoles were perceived to be more comfortable than identical white insoles.

“It’s important to better understand the relationship between footwear features and individual physiological attributes, so that we can improve comfort,” adds Professor Menz. “However, comfort needs to be balanced with performance and injury risk – for example, it might feel better to leave the top eyelets unlaced in a running shoe, but this is less stable and may increase the risk of injury."

Read the article.