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12 October 2006 PR 06/115

World’s first osteoarthritis simulation suit launched on World Arthritis Day

New insight into the pain and frustration felt by the 8.5 million Britons with Osteoarthritis1.

London, 12 October 2006:  Have you ever woken up with sore or stiff joints? The world’s first osteoarthritis simulation suit is being launched today on World Arthritis Day (12 October 2006) to highlight the debilitating joint condition that affects the every day lives of one in seven Britons1.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis2 and the leading cause of physical disability in the elderly3.  With an educational grant from Napp Pharmaceuticals, the £20,000 simulation suit has been developed by researchers at Loughborough University with the support of healthcare professionals and patient case studies from Arthritis Care. 

The suit was developed at Loughborough’s Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute, (ESRI, http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/esri), one of the world’s leading centres for independent vehicle safety and human factors scientific expertise.

Created on the basis of a range of different patient experiences, the suit mimics the characteristics of the condition to give wearers a vivid real life insight into the pain and impaired quality of life associated with osteoarthritis.

“The osteoarthritis suit is a great idea: it can be a struggle to explain how bad the pain can get to friends, family and even doctors,” commented Jane Spence, media relations manager for Arthritis Care, who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis two years ago when she was just 45.

“Most days it feels as if I’m wearing a suit of rusty armour, like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, and some days I experience unrelenting, razor-like pain,” added Ms Spence.

A large number of people with osteoarthritis suffer treatable pain unnecessarily, leading to a decline in mobility and an even greater impact on their quality of life4. The Arthritis Research Campaign set the cost to the UK economy of arthritis and related conditions at £5.5 billion per year5, a figure which includes potentially avoidable loss of productivity and incapacity benefit payments.

In conjunction with the suit, a new web-based education programme for GPs will also be launched today by a committee of leading osteoarthritis specialists. The JOINT Osteoarthritis Education Programme (JOINT) (www.jointeducation.co.uk) will be made available to GPs throughout the UK, providing advanced training on the diagnosis and management of the condition, including both drug-based and lifestyle approaches, to help improve mobility and minimise pain among patients.

The JOINT programme aims to address doctors’ concerns over the safety of current osteoarthritis treatments following the withdrawal of the once commonly prescribed cyclooxygenase-2 selective inhibitors (COX-2s). By introducing a clear step-by-step pain management approach, it is hoped that patients suffering from osteoarthritis-related pain will receive appropriate diagnosis and effective treatment.

Dr Garth Logan, President of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, said: “JOINT is an important step forward for the effective treatment of osteoarthritis-related pain. The confusion surrounding the safety of a number of traditional therapies has now made it vital for GPs to take stock of the current treatment options.

“For those of us involved in developing the programme, JOINT has enabled us to outline a holistic approach for GPs and other healthcare professionals managing osteoarthritis that will have direct and immediate benefit for their patients,” added Dr Logan.


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Notes to editors

1. 1Arthritis Care. OA Nation: the most comprehensive UK report of people with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Care; 2004. Available from: http://oanation.arthritiscare.org.uk

2Arthritis Care. Osteoarthritis. Available from: http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/AboutArthritis/Conditions/Osteoarthritis?region=uk

3Nuki G. Osteoarthritis: risk factors and pathogenesis. Arthritis Research Campaign. Topical Review No. 9, September 2002. Available from: http://www.arc.org.uk/about_arth/med_reports/series4/tr/6609/6609.htm

4Pain in Europe. A Survey. UK dataset. Mundipharma International / Napp Pharmaceuticals. 2003. Available from: http://www.painineurope.com/user_site/index.cfm?item_id=4405413

5Arthritis Research Campaign. Factfile: Arthritis at a glance. Available from:

2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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