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MusculoskeletalFeb 8, 2024

Clinical academic physiotherapist Rhiannon Joslin 'thrilled' to be awarded a catalyst fellowship

Rhiannon Joslin, a clinical academic physiotherapist at the University of Southampton, said today (8 February) on X (formerly Twitter) that she was ‘thrilled and excited’ to have been awarded a ‘catalyst fellowship’ that will allow her to focus on alleviating pain in young people.

The fellowship is a new initiative that was launched jointly by Versus Arthritis and the Medical Research Foundation. Both charities have voiced concern that too little research is being conducted into musculoskeletal pain affecting young people – despite the fact that research into adult pain has grown steadily in recent years.

Chronic pain currently affects from 18.4 million and 28 million people in the UK – meaning that more than a third of the population has been living in pain for more than three months.

Photo Credit: Medical Research Foundation
Rhiannon says her study will help young people with pain to feel they have more control


Personalising physiotherapy for young people

During her two-year fellowship, Dr Joslin will develop a training package for physiotherapists, which she hopes will make physiotherapy treatments more personalised. She has been awarded £147,000.

Dr Joslin said: ‘We hope that by personalising physiotherapy treatment, this will allow young people to feel more in control, reach their goals and prevent pain lasting into later life.’

Dr Joslin will organise workshops with young people (aged 14-18 years) who have had physiotherapy. Based on their experiences, the young people will design a new way for young people to talk about their pain and set treatment goals. Parents and physiotherapists will also provide feedback on how these approaches could be used in clinical practice.

‘Chronic pain can be very distressing for some young people, but not everyone will develop such severe distress,’ Dr Joslin said. ‘Therefore, it is crucial that we better understand who is at risk, when, and why.’

We hope that by personalising physiotherapy treatment, this will allow young people to feel more in control, reach their goals and prevent pain lasting into later life [Rhiannon Joslin]Verena Hinze's fellowship

A second two-year fellowship, worth £130,000, went to Verena Hinze, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Oxford. She plans to explore why some young people with chronic pain experience severe distress while others do not. 

Dr Hinze plans to invite 70 young people with chronic pain (aged 12-19 years) to answer questions about their pain and feelings four times per day. Their responses will help researchers to understand how feelings of pain and distress might change over hours, days and weeks – and learn about what psychological and social factors might trigger these changes. 

To follow Rhiannon Joslin on X (formerly Twitter): @RhiannonJoslin

Versus Arthritis highlights the case of William, who lives with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

William is shown climbing a climbing frame in a playground and the caption states: ‘Muscle and joint pains, sprains, and broken bones are common for many children. But while most young people get better, for others the pain can continue into adult life.’ 

Viewers are advised: ‘If you experience these pains, your healthcare team usually suggest you try physiotherapy.’ It notes that a physiotherapist or other clinician will offer tailored treatments to help a child or young person, by, for example:

  • relieving your pain
  • improving your mobility
  • helping you stay independent 
Author: I A McMillan
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