Prof Mark Lewis and Sqn Ldr Rob Barker-Davies

The Loughborough University based National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine is collaborating with Headley Court’s Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation (ADMR) on a major project that could help UK military personnel with tendon problems.

The Biomechanical Associations and Efficacy of Injectable Therapies in Tendinopathy (BEFIT) study is funded with a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and brings together university academics and MOD collaborators to investigate risk factors and treatment of tendon pain in our regular armed forces.

The main focus of the project is a randomised controlled trial investigating the effect of high volume injection therapy in Achilles and patellar tendinopathy. There have been some encouraging results from other centres but currently there is no controlled study to provide evidence for the use of these injections in military personnel.

Commenting on the importance of this programme the Director of Defence Rehabilitation, Col John Etherington, said:

Reducing musculoskeletal injuries (MSKI) remains our main effort in improving the health and operational readiness of our personnel. We know that approximately 60% of medical downgradings and 60% of medical discharges are associated with MSKI. Getting the very best treatment at the right place and at the right time is key to us helping our personnel fulfil their potential. I am delighted that we have been able to pool resources in this type of project to drive forward best practice.

The research has made good use of the Help for Heroes motion tracking laboratory at Headley Court together with Loughborough University biomechanics. Factors which may predict tendon pain and its response to treatment are also being analysed.

Gp Capt Alex Bennett the Head of Research at Headley Court and Defence Professor for Rehabilitation described the need for this research within defence:

This well designed clinical trial has been approved not only by the MOD Research Ethics Committee but also the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and gives us the best opportunity to test fully whether these injections can benefit our patients.

Professor Mark Lewis, Dean of the School of Sport Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University said:

The relationship between Loughborough University and the Academic Department of Military Rehabilitation at Headley Court via the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine is of critical importance to the university. This project not only cements that relationship but, more importantly, has the potential to deliver huge benefits to tendinopathy sufferers in the UK military and more widely to the general public. We are grateful to the HEFCE for supporting this project through a Catalyst fund.

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