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New UC therapy could eliminate joint stiffness

Tara Corcoran

11 May 2018: Researchers at the University of Canberra are developing new therapy techniques that may improve the quality of life of thousands of Australians suffering from knee stiffness.

Each year, more than 40,000 Australians undergo knee replacement surgery to fix osteoarthritis – a condition which causes people pain and limits their range of motion.

But now, using cutting-edge, four-dimensional imaging technology, physiotherapy researchers at the University of Canberra are gaining a better understanding of how the human knee works so they can develop more effective therapy techniques.

Physiotherapy student Yi-Ying Zeng, who is conducting the research as part of her honours, said she is using her new-found knowledge of the joint to compare traditional therapy methods with new and potentially more effective techniques.

“We’ve done quite a bit of research into knee kinematics, looking at how the knee works, and the four-dimensional imaging has changed our thinking around the way the knee moves,” Ms Zeng explained.

“For this study, we are comparing the manual therapy technique which has been used for years with a new technique that we have developed using this technology.

“Using this technique, we’ll try to move the knee in the way it’s actually supposed to move, to see if it improves the knee-bend movement more than the current therapy does.”

Ms Zeng’s interest in knee osteoarthritis extends beyond a clinical capacity. Her grandfather suffered from the condition and endured years of discomfort. She hopes her research will help others avoid a similar fate.

“It’s so debilitating, but we can do something about it as well,” she said. “It will certainly improve people’s ability to get out of chairs and get up and down stairs and just improve their quality of life.”

For the next stage of the project, Ms Zeng is looking for people suffering knee stiffness to complete questionnaires about their condition and undergo manual therapy.

Participants will receive four free physiotherapy sessions over two weeks at either the University of Canberra or at Southside Physiotherapy in Woden.

Participants should be over 18 years, have less than 120-degree knee flexion range and have not undergone a knee reconstruction, replacement or ligament rupture on their problem knee. If interested, potential participants can contact Jennie Scarvell via or call (02) 6201 2796.