Researchers from seven UK universities have joined forces to study the relationship between certain sports injuries and osteoarthritis (OA). Working together at the new Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, they will seek to develop screening tools that predict the risk of OA after a sports injury, as well as devise more effective injury treatments.
The project is led by the Universities of Nottingham and Oxford, which have been joined by the Universities of Southampton, Bath, Loughborough, Leeds and University College London. Professor Mark Batt of Nottingham University, who has been put in charge of the new centre, said that regular exercise was crucial for joint health and its long-term benefits greatly outweighed the risk of injury. The aim of the centre is to make it possible for all people to be physically active and avoid injuries. To achieve this, researchers will provide advice and information based on definitive evidence, which will minimise the effect of sports injuries. They will also give recommendations for effective therapies so that long-term damage can be reduced.
Batt also noted that the centre was the first research facility in Europe to bring together specialists in sports medicine and osteoarthritis. Their combined expertise will be leveraged to understand why certain sports injuries result in the development of OA and what can be done to prevent or slow down joint degeneration, he said.
Football will be a key area of investigation but the research team will also look into sports activities such as rugby, horse racing and athletics. The work done at the centre will help people maintain an active lifestyle and exercise safely, said Gary Lewin, incumbent physiotherapist of the English national football team.