A picture of UL researcher Clodagh Toomey holding a knee joint
Dr Clodagh Toomey, a Research Fellow at UL’s School of Allied Health, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences
Thursday, November 24, 2022

A researcher at University of Limerick is to launch a free new online resource for people suffering from hip and knee pain.

Dr Clodagh Toomey, a Research Fellow at UL’s School of Allied Health, Faculty of Education and Health Sciences, is leading a project funded by the Health Research Board to a create trustworthy online resource for healthcare professionals and people with chronic hip and knee pain.

As a HRB Emerging Investigator, the UL researcher received further funding under the Knowledge Translation Awards (KTA) 2022 scheme which allows grant holders to apply for additional for communication and dissemination activities.

She will lead the project ‘Co-design and co-adaptation of a trustworthy online resource for healthcare professionals and people with chronic hip and knee pain in Ireland’.

Dr Toomey explained: “Long-term, painful conditions of the hip and knee joint are common in Ireland. Yet, many patients sit on waiting lists for months or years, even when specialist opinions are not needed. In the meantime, pain gets worse, affecting ability to live, work and be fully active.

“Expert knowledge on how to exercise with these conditions and how to take control of pain and other symptoms can be life-changing for these individuals and is part of recommended care. Although internet searches mean we now have pages of health information at our fingertips, we are also living in an era of misinformation and ‘fake news’, making it difficult to find quality information.

“The aim of this project is to create a free trustworthy website for people with hip and knee pain in Ireland, with information that is backed by research, and designed with patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) to make sure the information meets needs and is understandable. An Australian resource called the ‘TREK My Knee education and self-management toolkit’ will be adapted for people in Ireland and advertised by HCPs, patient groups, newspapers, and social media.

“Patients can select the information they want by choosing options and features like their joint condition like knee osteoarthritis for example, information on diet, exercise, self-management, medications, and surgery. This will create a personalised printable toolkit with important information for them. GPs or other HCPs can also go through the information with the patient in their clinic, print the toolkit for the patient to take home and be confident that the patient is getting access to the quality education and guidance they need.

“As a bonus, needless referrals to specialists and waiting lists may be reduced, and patients get better access to the care they need at the right time,” Dr Toomey added.

Dr Toomey, a physiotherapist with research interest in knee injury and osteoarthritis, completed her physiotherapy and PhD qualifications at UL and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, University of Calgary.

In all there were 27 supplementary awards made under the scheme announced this week.

Dr Mairéad O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the HRB said: “The Knowledge Translation Awards view each stage in the research process as an opportunity for collaboration with knowledge users, which include healthcare practitioners, policy makers and the public. These awards give the HRB-funded research community extra opportunities to communicate the impact and value of their work.”