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University Of Otago Backs Physiotherapy Research

University Of Otago Backs Physiotherapy Research

13-6-2006, Dunedin

The University of Otago has recently appointed Haxby Abbott, PhD, MScPT, FNZCP to lead the Clinical Research Development programme at the New Zealand Centre for Physiotherapy Research.

The New Zealand Centre for Physiotherapy Research is based at the School of Physiotherapy and comprises an enthusiastic and skilled team of researchers involved in a range of research programmes.

The School of Physiotherapy already has a strong record of producing world-class expertise. A recent survey of physiotherapists in the United States rated three Otago-trained physiotherapists (Robin McKenzie, Professor Stanley Paris, and Brian Mulligan) among the 7 most influential in the profession.

Dr Abbott has a special interest in the validity of the clinical examination of patients with low back pain, and physical therapy for osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. His research on the clinical diagnosis of abnormal movement between the vertebrae of patients with low back pain has received international recognition, and has set the standard for measurement of lumbar spine displacement kinematics (see ). Dr Abbott has previously worked in physical therapy schools at the University of St Augustine for Health Sciences and the University of Utah. He has recently appointed as a Fellow of the New Zealand College of Physiotherapy, and is currently the Editor of the New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy.

Dr Abbott states "the School of Physiotherapy clinics are an outstanding asset to the University and the community, as they not only provide the very best quality patient care, from the standpoint of expertise, but also provide training opportunities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Now, with the New Zealand Centre for Physiotherapy Research, they also offer the potential to improve the care physiotherapists can offer, and contribute to the research base of the profession through clinical research."

The School of Physiotherapy offers patient care to the public through twelve clinics in three major New Zealand cities, including general musculoskeletal clinics, special purpose McKenzie clinics, a Balance Clinic, a Multiple Sclerosis clinic, a Sports Medicine clinic, and a Muscle Performance Laboratory.

Through strong research links with the Dunedin School of Medicine, the Otago Falls Prevention programme (initiated by then post-graduate physiotherapy student Dr Melinda Gardner), is used and respected worldwide. Senior Lecturer Dr Leigh Hale is continuing the falls research theme with her current study involving Tai Chi and flexibility exercise. Among other clinical research currently underway is physiotherapy Lecturer Gisela Sole's study of hamstring strain injuries, taking place in the Muscle Performance Laboratory.

The New Zealand Centre for Physiotherapy Research will conduct research to examine the effectiveness of physical therapy in various ailments, and ways of identifying patients likely to benefit most from the various forms of intervention under study. Collaboration with local and international groups in multi-centre trials is already underway, and linkages with other healthcare providers in multi-disciplinary projects are a key priority in the development of the Centre.


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