Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Centre for Musculoskeletal Research

Current research

Mater/ACU Back Stability Clinic Project (part of Lumbo-pelvic Stability Program)

Established at the Mater Health Services in South Brisbane in 1999, the Mater/ACU Back Stability Research Clinic assesses and treats the deep muscles of the lumbo-pelvic region, primarily in patients with low back pain. Real-time ultrasound imaging is used to view and assess the dysfunction in the muscle system and provide feedback for rehabilitation exercise protocols.

Funding: Queensland Health Practitioner Research Scheme
Project team: Julie Hides, Warren Stanton, Ellen Jang, Linda Blackwell

European Space Agency (ESA) Projects (part of Lumbo-pelvic Stability Program)

Working for ESA, our collaborating physiotherapist Gunda Lambrecht conducts rehabilitation for European astronauts when they return to Earth. Our research team study muscle atrophy, low back pain and motor control programs following exposure to microgravity and prolonged bed rest. Measures and treatment techniques, including whole body vibration and resistive exercise, were used in the first and second Berlin Bed Rest Studies. Results of this research have provided information on the effects of a microgravity environment on the musculoskeletal system and the relationship between these effects and the development of musculoskeletal injury and pain on earth. This project is continuing as part of the ‘NBC Rehabilitation Collaboration’ (Northumbria University Newcastle, UK; Brisbane ACU and ESA in Cologne) and aims to improve the operational assessment of trunk stability before and after long-duration space missions.

Funding: European Space Agency
Project team: Julie Hides, Gunda Lambrecht, Dorothee Debuse, Maria Stokes, Simon Evetts.

Muscle Imbalance and Sport Projects (part of Lumbo-pelvic Stability Program)

The muscle imbalance and sports projects within the Centre focus on identifying muscle imbalances associated with different sports as well as evaluation of lumbo-pelvic pain in elite athletes. The research team has worked with the Australian Football League Research Board of Australia, Brisbane Lions FC, Carlton FC, Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence, New Zealand Academy of Sport, Cycling New Zealand and the Australian Ballet. Using MRI and ultrasound imaging, the projects quantify impairments and imbalances to develop effective rehabilitation strategies for elite athletes. The research has led to the successful prediction of lower limb injuries using measurements of muscle morphology. Motor control intervention programs have been found to be effective in decreasing the incidence of lower limb injuries.

Funding: Australian Football League Board
Project team: Julie Hides, Warren Stanton, Dilani Mendis, Melinda Smith, Jan Gildea

Taping and Exercise for the Treatment of Exercise Related Leg Pain (part of the Sports Injury Prevention and Management Program)

To evaluate the effectiveness of taping and exercise in the management of a common lower limb overuse condition, exercise related leg pain (ERLP), the research team is conducting a clinical trial that compares the use of traditional rigid sports taping with the more recent elastic taping techniques. The research team will also evaluate exercises to strengthen the hip and foot muscles.

Funding: ACU Faculty of Health Sciences Grant
Project team: Melinda Smith, Julie Hides

Clinical Tests in the Screening of Sports Injuries (part of the Sports Injury Prevention and Management Program)

This research aims to identify tests of trunk and lower limb control (such as a single leg squat) that can be used in a clinical setting to screen for lower limb injuries. As part of these projects, the research team also aims to better understand the factor(s) of trunk and lower limb control (e.g., muscle strength, muscle size, muscle activation) that are represented by a clinician’s rating of performance on these tests. To conduct this research, the team has worked with the Royal Australian Air Force, Brisbane Lions FC, Carlton FC, Geelong FC and recreational athletes from the local community.

Funding: Australian Football League Board, ACU Research Fund
Project team: Julie Hides, Warren Stanton, Tim Gabbett, Anthony Schache, Steve Saunders, Hugh Seward, Dilani Mendis, Andrew Rotstein, Mark Creaby, Melinda Smith.

The Role of the Hip in Lower Limb Sports Injuries (part of the Sports Injury Prevention and Management Program)

The focus of these projects is to investigate the relationship between hip muscle morphology/function, clinical measures and lower limb injuries. Projects include the identification of altered hip muscle morphology and function in specific sports injury groups, such as Achilles tendinopathy, and clinical measures of hip function in elite football players with hip joint pathology such as femoroacetabular impingement. Other projects are prospectively investigating the relationship of hip muscle morphology and function with occurrence of lower limb injuries. The research team has worked with the Royal Australian Air Force, Brisbane Lions FC, Carlton FC, Geelong FC, Collingwood FC, Gold Coast Suns FC and recreational athletes from the local community.

Funding: Australian Football League Board
Project team: Dilani Mendis, Julie Hides, Melinda Smith