Osteoarthritis is a painful, disabling joint disease that affects millions of people and for which there is no curative treatment. The LoaD project [i]– led by Prof. Gerjo van Osch (Erasmus MC) – is investigating what constitutes healthy exercise for individual patients with knee osteoarthritis and how patients can be encouraged to engage in healthy exercise. LoaD is a consortium made up of researchers from the University of Twente and various medical centres, technical universities, universities of applied sciences and corporate partners. Last week, the Dutch Research Council (NWO) awarded the consortium a grant of 8.8 million euros. In addition, the parties involved will receive a further 1 million euros in co-funding from companies and social partners, such as sports federations and patient associations.
The central question is, “What is ‘a healthy load’ for people with osteoarthritis?” Patients are encouraged to keep moving, but there is currently no way to determine the optimal joint load for individual patients. Based on the knowledge being acquired through LoaD, personalised support strategies will be developed for use in daily life.
Several researchers from the University of Twente’s Technical Medical Center are involved in the project, each with their own perspective:
- The Biomechanical Engineering group, in collaboration with Dr Janssen’s Orthopaedic Research Lab at Radboudumc, will be able to further develop musculoskeletal models that can be used to estimate cartilage loads during various physical activities.
- The Biomedical Signal and Systems group (BSS) will conduct research on an eHealth buddy that gives patients personalised feedback and coaching based on holistic monitoring in daily life.
- The Developmental BioEngineering (DBE) group will investigate the influence of mechanical stress on intra-cellular processes, both at the tissue level and at the level of individual cells. Their research will make use of innovative joint-on-a-chip models. The intra-cellular processes will be rendered using computer models that can predict cell behaviour.
- The Health Technology and Services Research (HTSR) group will use iterative evaluations to help develop personalised eHealth strategies and optimise their added value for patients and society with innovative health-economic simulation models.
Members of the LoaD consortium: Erasmus MC, Ziekenhuisgroep Twente, Delft University of Technology, Leiden University Medical Center, Radboud University Medical Center, Eindhoven University of Technology, Utrecht University Medical Center, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, University of Twente, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Arthrosave, Golazo Sports, LifeTec Group, Ancora Health BV, Move-Metrics, Omnigen, Hy2Care, Optics11, Xsens Technologies, Orthros Medical, Society for Sports Medicine, Royal Dutch Hiking Association, Royal Dutch Society for Physiotherapy, Siemens Healthineers, Motek Medical, ReumaNederland, AO Research Institute Davos (ARI), cycling federation NTFU, Royal Dutch Lawn Tennis Association, Medical Delta, University of Liège (Belgium).
For more information, go to the NWO website.
[i] LoaD stands for:
Healthy Loading to combat osteoarthritis: Leveraging molecular variations in load bearing capacity for individualized movement aDvice