Week 1- Discovering Thoracolumbar Fascia.

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Today marks the end of my first week working with Kyra De-Coninck. Her PhD is ‘Ultrasound evidence of changes in thoracolumbar fascia in people with lower back pain’. It has been a great week, and I’ve already learnt so much!

The first day I got given tasks to do as Kyra was travelling back from France. This is when I got my first taste of the complexity and diversity of the research involved for this study! I spent the day looking at a directory of studies on the World Health Organisation site that involved ‘lower back pain’. The amount of results that appeared were mind-blowing! Although I only had to look at the studies from the past year- a grand total of 188. I looked at these different trials and collected various bits of information such as the range of how differently the word ‘chronic’ was interpreted, the different interventions used by each trial, how many trials were of the same type as this one, and how many trials included fascia. I was really interested to see exactly how differently the word ‘chronic’ can be interpreted… some studies stated weeks, some stated months, and some stated that it depends on the frequency of occurrence.

The next day I got to meet Kyra and sit down and agree with her what we both wanted out of this internship- we both wanted the same things which was brilliant. We set up my desk and equipment and made a plan for the week- it all felt very real and exciting! We spent the day registering me to a programme which allows us to share interesting research articles with each other and store/categorize them and by the end of the day I had folders full of intriguing articles to read that relate to the study. I’m already thinking this programme will be fab for when I do my dissertation!

I spent the rest of the week discussing my findings with Kyra regarding the World Health Organisation Task and she came up with an interesting avenue to research, that included putting the different studies into current theoretical models to see if we can further confirm the need for fascia exploration and the addition of sub categories to categorize lower back pain.

I also read a huge article regarding the anatomy of the Thoracolumbar Fascia this week. We thought this would be a good first article to read as its important for me to understand the complex anatomy of Thoracolumbar Facia, and gain an appreciation of the importance of this new field of study. It’s amazing how the understanding of this structure has changed over the years and there’s still so much research to be done! This article challenged me as there were so many anatomical phrases I was not familiar with- but that benefited me hugely as I have already expanded my knowledge of the spine.

I really recommend a read if you are interested in spinal anatomy. Here are the details:
Willard, F., Vleeming, A. and Schuenke, M. (2012). The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations. Journal of anatomy. 221 (6), p507-36.

This experience has already helped me so much with my own understanding of academic writing, it’s almost a narrative that is written. On my last day of the working week I also got my first taster of analysing an ultrasound scan. I took a survey involved in the study just to see my interpretation of ‘unorganised’ and ‘organised’ fascia according to guidelines that Kyra had written. The difference in layer orientation of fascia in different individuals really surprised me. Next week we hope to continue my analysis of the scans, but this time looking at all of the data to see if we can categorize the scans, and correlate these different categories with the level/nature of pain the participants experiencing at the time. This will add a different dimension as the echogenicity and thickness of the ultrasound scans have only been looked at so far. Ultrasound is a treatment modality that I haven’t explored as a student sports therapist yet, so I am looking forwards to getting back to work Monday morning!

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