Touching Lives - February 2007
Advance in treating troublesome tendons
Thanks to a £90,000 Research Training Fellowship grant from Action Medical Research, Dr Angela Deakin has been able to reveal detailed new information about the structure and properties of tendons.
Tendons attach muscle to bone. Dr Deakin was particularly interested in the mechanical property of tendons — the way in which they transmit a load that’s applied to them — tendon structure, and the relationship between the two. Changes in the structure of tendons are often seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis which are thought to influence their mechanical properties, disrupting the efficient functioning of joints. Dr Deakin looked at samples of both healthy and arthritic tendons in her study.
The findings were used to produce a large database of tendon mechanical properties, which will be invaluable to surgeons who work in the field of reconstructive hand and wrist surgery. It has the potential to significantly improve the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions where tendon transfers are undertaken, reducing disability, improving joint function and relieving pain for patients.
Dr Deakin says, “My Research Training Fellowship allowed me to extend my research skills and gain specialist knowledge in the field of tissue mechanics. I now work as Orthopaedic Research Coordinator at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank, and am an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Bioengineering Unit at the University of Strathclyde. This is a very exciting opportunity to work in a clinical environment, and pursue my research interests.”
Dr Deakin’s work was supported by a number of charitable trusts and foundations including Garfield Weston Foundation,The Hugh Fraser Foundation and The Sylvia Aitken Charitable Trust.