13 April 2023

A postgraduate researcher from the University of Southampton’s School of Engineering is researching how patients and public contributors could work with biomechanical engineers to design tools that might improve quality of life for people affected by osteoarthritis of the hand.

Tinashe Munyebvu shared information about her PhD project entitled ‘Human and biomechanical considerations of hand joint disease’ during one of the People in Health West of England’s researcher coffee mornings. She spoke to public contributors about the value of public involvement in the design and delivery of biomechanical engineering research.

Biomechanical engineers analyse how joints and muscles work. They look at both individual muscle and joint function as well as assessing how these elements work together. Researchers then apply this knowledge, among others, to orthopaedics, prosthetics and orthotics.

Tinashe’s PhD project aims to evaluate how patient and public involvement and engagement could be incorporated in biomechanical engineering research projects. Her work focuses on a condition called osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition which can affect any joint in your body, including the hand. It affects movement and function, which has an impact on the daily life of a patient. In 2013 more than 1.5 million people in the UK needed treatment for hand or wrist osteoarthritis.

Tinashe Munyebvu, PhD student, said:

“Firstly, I’m interested in seeing what impact public involvement and engagement have on the design, implementation and dissemination of research findings. My second aim is to create guidelines that could be applied by other engineers working on different health conditions.”

Watch the full session here:

This talk was part of our regular researcher coffee mornings, where members of the public can hear about local research projects and give researchers feedback on their work. Coffee mornings are informal and designed to give researchers and public contributors a chance to interact. Public contributors are encouraged to ask questions, learn about, and get involved in projects in their area.

Coffee mornings will usually take place on Thursdays between 10.00-11.00am.

Get in touch with Carmel McGrath or see our events page for upcoming sessions.

Further information 

About the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit [HPRU] in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol

The NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at University of Bristol is one of 14 HPRUs across England, part of a £58.7 million investment by the NIHR to protect the health of the nation.

The NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation is a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and University of Bristol, in collaboration with MRC Biostatistics Research Unit at the University of Cambridge and University of the West of England.

Each NIHR HPRU undertakes high quality research that is used by UKHSA to keep the public safe from current and emerging public health threats.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.