The University of Southampton

Rings to alleviate arthritis validated

Published: 
3 June 2008
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Research led by Dr Jo Adams on silver ring splints carried out by an interdisciplinary group including ECS academic Dr Cheryl Metcalf has shown that they have significant value.

The research led by Dr Jo Adams of the School of Health Professions and Rehabilitations Sciences at the University of Soutahmpton, was undertaken by academics in the University's School of Health Professions and Rehabilitation Sciences and the School of Electronics and Computer Science in conjunction with Occupational Therapy at Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Winchester, found that silver ring splints are effective in controlling hyperextension deformity of finger joints, which is common in individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

These silver ring splints are elegant rings, which have replaced bulky, plastic ones and are worn to give joints back their stability. They look much better than the plastic ones and are also stronger and more durable.

The findings were published in a paper, 'Three dimensional function motion analysis of silver ring splints in Rheumatoid Arthritis', and co-author Dr Jo Adams was awarded the Arthritis Research Campaign Silver Medal at the British Society of Rheumatology's annual meeting.

The research work was funded by a grant awarded by Wessex Medical Research. The research team consisted of Dr Cheryl Metcalf, an engineer at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science; Caroline Spicka studying for her MSc at the University, and Dr Jo Adams, Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy at the University, and a clinical occupational therapist from Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

According to the researchers, the team has worked efficiently together to ensure that the project has fulfilled its remit to carry out innovative scientific research that is applied directly to real issues and concerns that are affecting patients' daily lives. The project has been an excellent example of clinically applied academic research.

'This award demonstrates what can be done when people work across disciplines,' said Dr Metcalf. 'These silver ring splints have been commercially available in different parts of the world for a while. Men and women wear them and they look a lot nicer than the plastic alternatives currently available - which means people are more likely to wear them.'

An occupational therapist at Royal Hampshire County Hampshire added: 'In fact I saw two patients this week who really do appreciate these splints. One is ordering three more for her little finger and both thumbs after having seven silver splints for at least five years for her other fingers. Unfortunately, the other patient can't because her skin is too delicate, but both can see the benefit.'

An abstract of 'Three dimensional function motion analysis of silver ring splints in Rheumatoid Arthritis' is available.

The arc prize in rheumatology is presented annually by medical research charity the Arthritis Research Campaign to five healthcare professionals working with people with arthritis in the fields of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nursing, podiatry and other related areas.

Winners receive £500 and a silver medal.

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