Announcement of successful 2015 Seeding Grant applications

PRF seeding grants are for new researchers working on new or established clinical research projects. The purpose of PRF seeding grants is to help new researchers begin a research career. All applications are subjected to a thorough assessment process by the PRF Grants Review Committee to ensure that PRF seeding grants are awarded to the most worthy studies each year. The Directors of the PRF Corporate Trustee are now pleased to announce that the following APA members have been awarded seeding grants for the 2014 funding round.

Does female sex hormone supplementation (FSHS), exercise or a combination of both, improve pain and function in post-menopausal women with greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS)?

Charlotte Ganderton, APAM, La Trobe University

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS) is associated with pathology of the gluteus medius and minimus tendons and trochanteric bursa. Most prevalent in post-menopausal women; it causes as much debilitating pain and dysfunction in women as those waiting for a hip replacement for severe osteoarthritis. Limited evidence in laboratory and clinical studies suggests hormone decrease after menopause may have a negative effect on tendon and that exercise may be beneficial. This study will be the first to compare the effectiveness of female sex hormone supplementation (FSHS) alone, and with the combination of exercise therapy, to treat pain and dysfunction associated with GTPS. This study has been pragmatically designed to ensure that the interventions in this study can be easily integrated into clinical practice if found to be effective in the treatment of GTPS in post-menopausal women. Significance: This is the first study to investigate the role of FSHS in combination with exercise in ameliorating the pain and dysfunction in tendinopathy in post-menopausal women. It is essential that this population is active; GTPS prevents or reduces activity, and interventions for this condition that reduce pain and increase function and activity will have important health benefits for these women.

Amount awarded: $10,000

Towards improving adherence to home exercise in knee osteoarthritis

Philippa Nicolson, APAM, University of Melbourne

The aim of this research project is to investigate the reliability and validity of self-reported measures of adherence to a physiotherapist-prescribed home-based strengthening exercise program. Knee osteoarthritis is a major cause of disability in Australia and worldwide. Substantial research evidence supports the use of prescribed home exercise in treating knee osteoarthritis, and adherence levels have been related to outcomes. Thus measurement of patient adherence to home exercise is important for both research and clinical purposes. Although objective measures such as direct observation and activity monitors exist, these have practical limitations and the potential to alter the domain under investigation. Consequently, exercise adherence is most often measured using self-report measures. Validity of the self-reported measures will be assessed by comparing to simultaneous measures obtained from an accelerometer concealed in an ankle cuff weight in 60 people with knee osteoarthritis over 12 weeks. Test-retest reliability of the retrospective self-reported adherence measures will also be assessed. The results of this research will provide evidence of the reliability and validity of self-reported adherence measures. Accurate measurement of adherence to prescribed home exercise programs is crucial in order to facilitate optimal physiotherapy management and for research purposes.

Amount awarded: $9,420

Un-training the brain: Extinguishing learned pain responses through pain-free, illusory movement.

Daniel Harvie, APAM, Griffith University


Can illusory movement reduce persistent pain?


We will develop a method for inducing the experience of movement, independent of actual movement – using a visual-proprioceptive illusion in virtual reality. After developing a graded program using healthy control data, the effect of illusory movement will be tested in a sample of people with persistent neck pain. The results of these studies will be used to develop a treatment package of graded exposure to illusory movement, which may then be tested in a future randomised controlled trial.


Recent theoretical frameworks suggest that the things that become associated with an injury might themselves activate pain-memories and trigger pain (Moseley & Vlaeyen, 2015; Zaman et al., 2015; Butler & Moseley, 2003). The belief that pain might be a learned response is well accepted among physiotherapists (Madden 2015) and it has recently been suggested that physiotherapy strategies may aim to extinguish these memories (Nijs et al., & Sterling, 2015). However, countering the memory traces underlying this learning is difficult, particularly when movement based strategies reinforce the movement-pain association. Illusory movement a promising, innovative Physiotherapy strategy to target ‘untraining the brain’.

Amount awarded: $10,000

Does motor reserve affect post-stroke impairment?

Dr Brenton Hordacre, APAM, University of Adelaide

Much research has been directed to understanding the physiology that contributes to post-stroke impairment in order to identify mechanisms which can be targeted to improve function. While lesion size and location as factors thought to be associated with post-stroke impairment, there is evidence indicating variation in function for radiographically similar lesions. It is likely intrinsic factors within each patients functional network architecture contribute to function post-stroke. Patients with greater ‘motor reserve’ in sensorimotor networks may be more capable of compensating for neurological insults from stroke lesions. This study will investigate baseline connectivity as a measure of motor reserve in healthy adults. A stroke lesion will be modelled using non-invasive brain stimulation. We hypothesise that people with greater motor reserve will have less behavioural impairment following suppression of sensorimotor excitability to model stroke. This is a proof of principle study with future investigations to be carried out in stroke populations. Results from this study are likely to identify mechanisms contributing to post-stroke impairment, and may identify novel approaches to target physiotherapy rehabilitation and improve function. Laboratory equipment required to undertake this study is available within our department. Funding of $10,000 is being sought to provide researcher time and laboratory expendables.

Amount awarded: $9,089

Identifying risk factors for poor functional recovery of the neck and shoulder after neck dissection surgery in patients with head and neck cancer

Elise Gane, APAM, University of Queensland

It is the aim of this study to establish predictors of shoulder and neck dysfunction after neck dissection surgery for head and neck cancer by using a variety of outcome measures across the domains of motor, sensory, self-reported function and impairment and health-related quality of life, as well as demographical and disease related information. There are two groups of participants in this study. Group A will constitute a cross-sectional study of patients who have previously undergone neck dissection in the last five years and produce a description of the spectrum of shoulder and neck dysfunction and correlations between outcomes. Group B will consist of patients who are about to undergo neck dissection with post-operative follow up. This group will involve a prospective longitudinal evaluation of their shoulder and neck dysfunction over time and produce a rate of incidence and risk factors for dysfunction after surgery. The increase in knowledge of the conditions together with the ability to estimate who and how many patients will be affected will allow physiotherapists to triage their clinical services to those most in need. Furthermore, patients undergoing neck dissection can be provided with personalised pre-operative education.

Amount awarded: $9,974