Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) launched in 2015, with the aim of working together with health organisations, businesses and researchers to improve orthopaedic practice and care locally, nationally and globally.

Living well in older age is increasingly becoming a concern for our society and a key priority for health services is to enable older people to stay healthy and independent for as long as possible. Orthopaedics will become a critical issue as our population ages, as longer and more active lives will increase the risk that joints will wear out and replacements or treatments will be needed. ORI is addressing this need by carrying out research to improve orthopaedic practices and patient care, thus supporting people to maintain their activity levels and mobility as they age.

Deputy Head of ORI Associate Professor Tom Wainwright explains: “Knee and hip problems are going to become more prevalent, so we’re going to need better solutions to manage that; whether it’s better surgical procedures or better nonsurgical interventions. We have some very effective treatments in orthopaedics, but they’re not 100% effective, so part of our role is to work out how to make them better – improve them, through developing better surgical techniques, testing new medical technology or developing better rehabilitation processes.”

Between them, Associate Professor Wainwright and Head of ORI Professor Rob Middleton have a wealth of clinical and research expertise. Professor Rob Middleton is a practising orthopaedic surgeon, specialising in hip replacement, while Associate Professor Wainwright is a physiotherapist and clinical researcher. They carried out research alongside their clinical practice before joining BU and have a national and international reputation for their work to date. One of their biggest successes so far is speeding up the recovery process after hip and knee surgery, which has led to their work being cited in best practice health guidelines around the world. This approach, called Enhanced Recovery after Surgery, seeks to minimise the impact of surgery and accelerate recovery by employing strategies throughout the patient pathway, to improve outcomes and reduce the need for medical interventions. Their research into this area was a first in the UK for orthopaedics and demonstrated its value to patient care, as well as showing an improvement in patient and staff satisfaction and leading to significant cost savings to hospitals.

“As well as developing interventions to help patients recover from surgery and manage their conditions, we also work with a number of national and international medical device companies to test and run clinical trials on the latest orthopaedic technology,” says Associate Professor Wainwright.

“We are working with companies such as ZimmerBiomet, Stryker, Lima Corporate, and Firstkind Ltd to ensure that their technology is delivering the best possible outcomes for patients.” – Associate Professor Wainwright, Deputy Head of ORI

One example of their work with ZimmerBiomet was to explore ways to improve the technology used in hip replacements. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and one of the risks of hip replacement is dislocation; where the new ball comes out of the socket. ORI’s research has shown that a larger ball reduces the risk of dislocation, and does not adversely affect the rate of wear.


This article first appeared in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB.