Highlights from the 21st Biomechanics Summer School: Prof Jim Woodburn

Professor Jim Woodburn is one of those rare people who I would consider a true expert in his field, an authentic world authority.

As Associate Dean for Research at the School of Health and Life Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University, it is a long way from Podiatry school! Jim's quest with this, the fourth in the series covering BS2017 investigates the interplay between inflammation and biomechanics - what actually happens, and what do we do about it?

Of course, the flowchart is pretty straight forward. Inflammatory disease alters the biomechanics by impairing function with pain, stiffness, and deformity, which leads to activity limitation and restriction in activity participation.

And thus begins the slide into morbidity that can have very serious consequences

However, this slide can be managed either sub-optimally, which invariably will accelerate the process, or optimally which will substantially retard the process.

To highlight this he referred to a paper he co-authored from 2013 (woodburn 2013.pdf), which concluded:

children and adolescents with JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis), foot function as determined by a multi-segment foot model did not differ from that of normal age- and gender-matched subjects despite moderate foot impairments and disability scores. These findings may indicate that tight control of active foot disease may prevent joint destruction and associated structural and functional impairments.

He went on to explain that the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on gait biomechanics can be investigated with a "core set" of testing. This involves joint load and power (kinetics and work), joint motion (kinematics0, spatial and temporal parameters (for example, step length, cadence, step width), pressure distribution and muscle function, all of which feed into the identification of altered biomechanics.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical