Improving mobility in ankylosing spondylitis patients

Most patients who are given the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis have no idea what the disease is all about. Essentially, ankylosing spondylitis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that localizes in the spine. Because it is an auto-immune disease, the body attacks the facet joints between the vertebra, resulting in fusion and the hallmark forward stooping posture. It is difficult to diagnose and patients can live with it for years undetected. Arthritis is generally thought to be an old person’s disease, however, ankylosing spondylitis is most commonly seen in individuals between 17 and 35 years of age.A new class of drugs called biologics have revolutionized the treatment of auto-immune diseases and many patients are able to improve their quality of life as a result. Dr. Carlo Ammendolia at the University of Toronto says that the use of these drugs actually control the inflammatory process and are life changing for those struggling with the pain ankylosing spondylitis, however, they do not address the fusion of the joints that can impair mobility. Since most people are young when they receive their diagnosis, the thought of not being able to enjoy all of life’s activities because of spinal fusion can be devastating. Through his research, Dr. Ammendolia is working with patients to develop management approaches to help minimize or slow the fusion process.Dr. Ammendolia has identified several tailored exercises that when combined with the drugs can help improve or slow the fusion process. “The exercise program is really geared towards lifestyle and self management where patients are doing things sitting, standing, walking and sleeping in a posture that mitigates that risk to fuse in that posture.” The goal is to improve the muscles around the joints so that optimal posture is maintained. Chiropractic care also plays a role, with carefully considered treatments known as “adjustments” adding to the overall treatment plan to help maintain mobility. Push/relax techniques are used to help regain neck flexibility. In cases where joints are already fused together, adjustment or manual manipulation is not performed.As much as we hate to admit it, most health care, especially disease management, requires commitment from the patient to improve or maintain their wellness. That is of course what Empowered Health is all about, right? With these protocols, Dr. Ammendolia hopes that individuals suffering from ankylosing spondylitis will be “kick started” into self management of the condition. Next steps include developing tools and resources that will help patients track and monitor their progress. For more information, be sure to consult your family chiropractic doctor.

Dr. Marc-André Blanchette awarded CIHR Grant

The British Columbia Chiropractic Association would like to congratulate Dr. Marc-André Blanchette DC, MSc for being the recipient of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Fellowship Award that will provide $275,000 in funding over 5 years.Dr. Blanchette’s research is centered on the first line of care in work related disease. His study will investigate if direct access to different health care providers affects accessibility and return to work in the context of worker compensation. His project is titled: Évaluation de l’accès direct aux soins chiropratiques et de physiothérapie pour les travailleurs atteints de lésions musculosquelettiques. (Assessment of the direct access to chiropractic care and physiotherapy for workers with musculoskeletal injuries.)Dr. Blanchette is a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal where he began the Public Health PhD program in epidemiology in 2008 under the supervision of Dr. Michèle Rivard. The program focuses on training researchers to master one field of expertise and maintain a global vision of public health. In 2010-2011, Dr. Blanchette entered two different strategic training programs funded by the CIHR. The first program is based at the University of Toronto and is focused on a transdisciplinary approach to the prevention of work disability. The second program is geared towards Transdisciplinary Research on Public Health Interventions: Promotion, Prevention and Public Policy (4 P’s).

Dr. Mark Erwin receives 2nd Hansjörg Wyss Foundation Award

Congratulations to Dr. Mark Erwin DC, PhD for his award-winning research in the areas of tissue repair and regenerative medicine applications of intervertebral disc-derived stem cells. As a result of his findings, Dr. Erwin was recognized by AO Spine International, one of the leading academic association in spinal research and received the Hansjörg Wyss Foundation Award in 2010 and 2011 for his two projects: “A Cellular and Molecular Strategy to Unlock the Regenerative Reservoir of the Notochordal Cell: A Novel Approach to Treat Intervertebral Disc Degeneration” and “Intervertebral disc-derived multipotent stem cell rescue of the injured spinal cord”.Dr. Erwin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto where he holds the “CCRF Scientist in Disc Biology“ title. He is funded by a $500,000 partnership that includes CCRF, University of Toronto, Ontario Chiropractic Association, Krembil Neuroscience Center and the Arthritis and Autoimmune Research Center (AARC/MHA). The Disc Biology research has been funded with operating grants from the Synthes Corp ($210,000 completed), Skoll Foundation ($120,000), the Gardner Trust ($50,000) and now the Hansjörg Wyss Foundation with a second prestigious award.

Faculty Start Up Grant awarded to Dr. Steven Passmore

Congratulations to Dr. Steven Passmore DC, MS on his recent award of a new faculty start-up grant, valued at $101,133. The grant is funded in partnership through the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Manitoba, the School of Medical Rehabilitation and the CCRF.As a result of this award, Dr. Passmore will operate a new research program with three concurrent research tiers (Basic Science, Applied Clinical Science, Clinical Intervention Studies) and also create an enriched laboratory environment to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary study.Dr. Passmore holds the “CCRF Professorship in Spine Biomechanics and Neurophysiology” at University of Manitoba and is an Assistant Professor in the School of Medical Rehabilitation in the Faculty of Medicine. His research interests include utilization of human motor control/sensory learning tasks and paradigms as functional quantitative outcome measures of clinical intervention.The School of Medical Rehabilitation has 27 full-time faculty positions and offers entry to practice degrees as well as a Master of Science (Rehabilitation) degree and a multi-faculty PhD in Applied Health Sciences. The School provides a collegial working environment and is committed to develop human resource capacity to advance knowledge in rehabilitation and related sciences and practice disciplines.

Dr. Diana De Carvalho receives awards from CIHR and University of Waterloo

Congratulations to University of Waterloo PhD candidate Dr. Diana De Carvalho DC, MSc on the receipt of two awards: The Ontario Graduate Scholarship Award ($15,000) and the University of Waterloo President’s Scholarship Award ($10,000) for 2011/2012 school year.Dr. De Carvalho is currently funded by a “Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Research Award” and is training under the supervision of Dr. Jack P. Callaghan, Canada Research Chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention.The goal of Dr. De Carvalho’s research is to examine the spine biomechanics and low back pain injury mechanisms in seated postures. Specifically, she is interested in gender differences and spine posture responses to prolonged static conditions as well as seat design and movement interventions. Through this research she hopes to highlight two areas: The effects that specific office chair designs have on the lumbar lordosis angle and the effects that walking breaks and lumbar spine manipulation have on spine posture, pain, muscle activation and seat pressure profiles during prolonged sitting exposures.In addition to her doctoral work, Dr. De Carvalho is completing the University of Waterloo Certificate in University Teaching. She was named the recipient of the 2010 Canadian Chiropractic Association Young Investigator Award for significant contributions to the chiropractic community and will soon defend her thesis. Currently, Dr. De Carvalho is funded by a “CIHR Doctoral Research Award”.