“The interview was really gruelling,” says Gwen. “They were unsure whether someone as young as me could actually conduct the research I was proposing. I reassured them by fine tuning the research methodology and ideas, explained my background and interests, and of course, talked about my work in Ghana with the Cosyfeet Award.”
Gwen was delighted to be granted her PhD funding in early 2009 and went on to conduct research into the lower limb biomechanics of people with medial knee osteoarthritis. This research project included a randomised control trial to determine if modified laterally wedged orthoses could relieve pain in patients with arthritis of the knee. The results, obtained rigorously over 3 ½ years, were positive and are now being written up for publication.
On completion of her PhD, Gwen has now taken up a post as a clinical researcher at Nottingham University with the department of Academic Rheumatology. The project is focussed on identifying the risk factors of hip, knee, foot and ankle arthritis in current and retired professional footballers. She is funded by Arthritis Research UK and is working with FIFA and the University of Oxford.
“Professional footballers are likely to suffer with arthritis due to the intensity of the sport they play over a prolonged period of time. They are more likely to develop early onset arthritis compared to the general population,’’ says Gwen. “We hope that the results can better inform training methods and improve the health related quality of life of current and ex-professional footballers.”