Move It! The Latest in Mobility Research

Move It! The Latest in Mobility Research

Four of BC’s leading experts on joint and bone health came together March 8 to share their insights with the public as part of UBC’s 2011 Celebrate Research Week.

“Move It! The Latest in Mobility Research,” which drew more than 100 people, was organized by UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Providence Health Care Research Institute and the Child & Family Research Institute.

“UBC is of course situated at Point Grey, but at each of the teaching hospitals, there is a lot of research that is done,” said Yvonne Lefebvre, Associate Dean, Research, at the Faculty of Medicine, and President of Providence Health Care Research Institute, which hosted the event at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. “And research done in hospitals aims to improve the lives of the patients that the hospitals care for.”

The event was moderated by Heather McKay, Professor of Orthopaedics and Family Practice and Director of the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, a partnership of UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health.

“About $25 billion a year is spent by our government on bone and joint problems, and that’s expected to double over the next 25 years,” Dr. McKay said. “One reason this problem is about to get a whole lot bigger is that a lot of us are aging… But the problems begin at a very early age. This isn’t just a problem that affects the older generation.”

The speakers included:


  • Lori Tucker, a Clinical Investigator at the Child & Family Research Institute and Clinical Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology, in the Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Tucker described a study she is directing that will track 700 children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a chronic inflammation of the joints that affects one in 500 children. The project will seek to determine the effect of physical activity – including the effect on their bone and muscle strength.


  • Pierre Guy, the Leader of Fracture Prevention at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, and Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics.

Dr. Guy spoke about his efforts to determine why some people bones break, while other people’s bones prove resilient in the face of similar traumas. While bone density is perceived as the common cause, Dr. Guy also described how bone structure may also play a role, using an analogy to custard and crème brulee’s hard caramel glaze.


  • Marie Westby, Physical Therapy Teaching Supervisor at the Mary Pack Arthritis Program of Vancouver Coastal Health, and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy.

Dr. Westby spoke about her doctoral research, aimed at identifying a consensus among practitioners and patients on the best practices for recovering from total knee and hip replacement. While there was no consensus on some issues, such as the extent of treatment, the setting or the need for direct supervision, there was considerable agreement on the need for structured rehabilitation by trained professionals, direct supervision and short-term follow-up.


  • Aslam Anis, Professor in the School of Population and Public Health and Director of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences at the Providence Health Care Research Institute.

Dr. Anis addressed the indirect costs of inflammatory disease, especially in the form of absenteeism and “presenteeism,” whereby employees show up for work but are less productive. He said that consideration of such indirect costs is often overlooked by policy-makers during the drug approval process.

“At the end of the day the goal of research is not just to answer important questions, but to figure out how we can take these solutions and immediately apply them to increase the health and mobility of individuals across the lifespan, so that our research has impact and immediate benefit for those individuals,” Dr. McKay said.

This article was written by UBC Faculty of Medicine