Orthopaedic Research Institute

Growth Deal funding up to £700,000

Dorset has an unusual demographic; it boasts one of the largest populations of older people in the UK and carries out a significantly higher than average number of orthopaedic surgeries compared with other regions. Poole Hospital performs more hip fracture operations than any other hospital in England; the Royal Bournemouth Hospital is a leading European hip and knee replacement unit. 

Dorset LEP is breaking the mould, from typical schemes funded by the growth deal. A new world-class orthopaedic gait analysis laboratory - the ‘GRAIL’ (gait real-time analysis interactive laboratory) - and state-of-the-art virtual reality training equipment have been installed at Bournemouth University’s Orthopaedic Research Institute.

The GRAIL, one of just three in the UK and 23 in the world, is being used by Bournemouth University for the first time ever to analyse the outcomes on patients of orthopaedic surgical procedures and devices.  The GRAIL includes a self-paced treadmill with integrated force plate, a 10 camera motion capture system, and a 180-degree floor to ceiling surround screen featuring augmented reality scenes.

The funding secured through Dorset LEP has also been invested in equipment for muscle testing (Primus RS), joint angle measurement, muscle force testing as well as models of hips for demonstrations and video recording equipment.

The blue-chip virtual reality training equipment is one of the first modules in the world to give surgeons VR training in orthopaedic surgery ahead of actual patient surgery. It includes:

  • virtual reality arthroscopy (a VR training system for hip arthroscopy based on virtual reality VR techniques).  BUORI will be the only place in the world to offer this type of keyhole surgery training
  • virtual reality – TKR (a VR training system for total knee replacement).  BUORI will be the first centre in Europe to offer this facility.

It is anticipated that the cutting-edge laboratory and equipment will further establish BUORI as a centre of excellence in orthopaedics, attracting qualified practitioners and students from around the world to train at Bournemouth as well as generate up to £100 million of investment into Dorset alongside 500 new jobs. ORI works across Bournemouth University and with local hospitals and industry partners to carry out research aimed at improving current orthopaedic treatments, developing better surgeries and testing new technology and developing better rehabilitation processes.

Professor John Fletcher, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research and Innovation at Bournemouth University commented, “We are delighted that support from Dorset LEP has allowed ORI to install new, state-of-the-art training equipment.  This will bring great benefits to the students and qualified professionals being trained, as well as enhancing ORI’s research activities. The enhancement of our medical science research is a key priority in our regional strategy. This is also a great example of the philosophy which resides at the heart of Bournemouth University’s work – making a difference by integrating our research, education and professional practice – as we believe that each benefits and reinforces the other.  We are very pleased to be bringing new facilities to BU that will benefit people in Dorset and beyond.”

Professor Rob Middleton, head of ORI, said, “Thanks to the capital grant from Dorset LEP, ORI now has world-class research and training facilities here in Bournemouth. Our virtual reality training simulators allow us to train surgeons in the ORI labs, where in the past they would be going through a learning curve on real patients. It’s a big advance and we’re generating huge interest from around the country and abroad.

“The gait lab allows researchers from across BU faculties to study human motion to improve sporting performance and treat injury and arthritis. Its unique contribution for studying joint replacements and their outcomes has attracted over 30 national and international companies to visit ORI over the last year. I am pleased to say that nine companies have now signed agreements and partnerships to work with ORI. Without Dorset LEP’s support we could not have attracted this work to Bournemouth.”

Watch a video about BUORI’s new GRAIL and virtual reality training equipment here.  

To find out what ORI has achieved in 2015-16 download their annual review.




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