Clinical doctoral research fellowship for physiotherapist Ruth Barker

Ruth Barker21 March 2018

Ruth Barker, research physiotherapist, has been awarded a clinical doctoral research fellowship (CDRF) in the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, which is funded by Health Education England and managed by the National Institute for Health Research. 

The CDRF provides funding to undertake a PhD and an individual training and development programme for non-medical healthcare professionals. 

Ruth will undertake a research project as part of her fellowship which will be investigating the effectiveness and acceptability of a supervised home-based lung fitness programme for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. 

COPD is a progressive lung condition which causes symptoms such as coughing, breathlessness and frequent chest infections. Severe flare-ups of these symptoms can result in emergency hospital admission for patients and can result in reduced mobility and muscle loss. This can then impact recovery from the flare-ups and may result in readmission to hospital. There is evidence that pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves a lung fitness programme, can improve muscle function, physical performance and quality of life after a flare-up. 

Ruth will incorporate pulmonary rehabilitation into an already existing scheme called early supported discharge. Early supported discharge involves specialist nurses giving home visits to patients to monitor their progress after a COPD flare-up. This programme doesn’t currently include rehabilitation for patients and focuses instead on medical and nursing care. Ruth’s study will explore whether supervised home-based rehabilitation is acceptable to patients, carers and healthcare staff and whether it will bring improvements to patients in their physical performance, physical activity levels and quality of life. 

Ruth said: "I am over the moon to have successfully been awarded this fellowship. It gives me the opportunity to continue to progress both my clinical and research skills as well as develop academically through working towards my PhD during the fellowship. This opportunity also reflects that the role of allied health professionals in research is being recognised, which is incredibly rewarding and exciting”.

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