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Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Te Tari Hāparapara me te Whaiora Ua-kāhiwi – Rangahau

Under the over-arching umbrella of Improving active function for all, the Department’s research themes are:

  • Improving tissue healing and repair in the musculoskeletal system
  • Improving clinical outcomes in musculoskeletal conditions
  • Improving rehabilitation after musculoskeletal injury
  • Improving pain management in musculoskeletal disorders

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.

The CReATE group consists of a multidisciplinary research team led by Associate 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 the clinic.

Read more about our CReaTE research group

Canterbury Orthopaedic and Bone Research Association (COBRA)

The 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, Dr 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

These are mainly long term prospective outcome studies on various types of total joint replacements.

National Joint Replacement Register 

The 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 unicomparmental 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.