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Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine

Te Tari Hāparapara me te Whaiora Ua-kāhiwi – Rangahau

United by our mission statement "Together improving function and wellbeing" through sustained excellence in teaching and research, the Department’s research themes are:

  • Improving tissue regeneration and engineering in the musculoskeletal system
  • Improving clinical outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions
  • Improving rehabilitation for musculoskeletal conditions
  • Improving pain rehabilitation and outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions
  • Translational teaching and research excellence

Christchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (CReaTE) research group

Tissue Engineering (TE) and Regenerative Medicine (RM) strategies which aim to combine a patient’s own cells with biodegradable scaffolds and growth factors, may offer considerable advantages over current surgical interventions used to repair or regenerate damaged tissues following trauma or disease.

Our CReATE group is a multidisciplinary research team led by Professor Tim Woodfield, and is working at the interface of cell-biology, biomaterials science and engineering.

Using advanced 3D scaffolds and in vitro culture techniques, combined with adult human stem cells, our group is attempting to identify the complex cellular environments controlling tissue growth in 3D, and their application in translating cell-based therapies to clinical application.

Read more about our CReaTE research group

Rehabilitation and Clinical Outcomes in Musculoskeletal Conditions (ReClaiM)

Our ReClaiM team is a small group of researcher-clinicians employing an interdisciplinary approach to their research on the rehabilitation of a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions.

Associate Professor Deborah Snell, Dr Jennifer Dunn and Dr Jo Nunnerley bring their backgrounds in clinical neuropsychology and physiotherapy to their research, and between them, they are also embedded in other surgical, rehabilitation, adaptive-living and clinical teams.

Clinical and patient-reported outcomes are a key focus of the team’s research; the team aims to accelerate the translation of research into clinical application and enable more people to participate fully in family and community life, as well as employment.

Read more about our ReClaiM team

Canterbury Orthopaedic and Bone Research Association (COBRA)

Our COBRA team collects data about people who have hip and knee replacement surgeries in the Canterbury region, both prior to surgery and at various periods afterwards. Routine follow up periods are currently six months, one year, five years, and now ten years post-surgery. A wide range of patient-reported outcome measures are recorded, including about the pain, function, and quality of life experienced.

COBRA is a private research facility comprising a small number of clinical researchers and a database manager, led by Principal Investigating Surgeon, Professor Gary Hooper, and Director of Clinical Studies, Associate Professor Deborah Snell.

The data managed by COBRA provides opportunities for researchers to evaluate research questions across many aspects of patient outcomes after having hip and knee arthroplasty.

Read more about our COBRA team

Prospective clinical outcome studies

We have a number of long-term prospective outcome studies underway researching various types of total joint replacements.

National Joint Replacement Register 

Our department is responsible for the National Joint Replacement Register.

The New Zealand National Joint Register was established by the NZ Orthopaedic Association to record technical information about total hip and knee surgery performed in New Zealand.

The Register began as a pilot study in Christchurch in April 1998, and by April 1999 was nationwide.

The Register expanded in January 2000 to include all total shoulder, elbow and ankle procedures, as well as unicompartmental knees.

More detailed information is available on the National Joint Register website

Reconstructive upper limb surgery for tetraplegia

Reconstructive surgery for tetraplegia has been carried out at the Spinal Injuries Unit Burwood Hospital since 1982.

The Unit is now one of the leaders in the world, not only for the surgery itself but also for outcome studies including the development of new surgical procedures and research programmes.

These include: 

  • Development of a device for accurate measurement of joint torque
  • Changes in tendon length during postsurgical rehabilitation
  • Patterns of shoulder motion
  • Wheelchair kinematics

Strong collaboration research programmes have been developed with the Department of Engineering, at the University of Canterbury.