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 (BUORI).
The equipment was made possible thanks to a £700,000 local growth fund investment secured by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.
The GRAIL, one of just three in the UK and 23 in the world, is being used by Bournemouth University to analyse the outcomes on patients of orthopaedic surgical procedures and devices. The GRAIL includes a self-paced treadmill with integrated force plate, a ten-camera motion capture system and a 180-degree floor-to-ceiling surround screen featuring augmented reality scenes.
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 a 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. Also included in the lab is a virtual reality – TKR (a VR training system for total knee replacement), and BUORI will be the first centre in Europe to offer this facility.
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.
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.
Professor John Fletcher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, at Bournemouth University commented, “This will bring great benefits to the students and qualified professionals being trained, as well as enhancing BUORI’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 BUORI, said, “Thanks to Dorset LEP, BUORI now has world-class research and training facilities here in Bournemouth. Our virtual reality training simulators allow us to train surgeons in the BUORI 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 BUORI over the last year. I am pleased to say that nine companies have now signed agreements and partnerships to work with BUORI.”
Gordon Page, chairman, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership said: “BUORI is a leading edge research facility. Its work will deliver more effective treatments for osteoarthritis as well as attract multinational global orthopaedic businesses to Dorset. This is good news not only for people whose lives will be enriched by better orthopaedic treatments but also for the economy. We are delighted to have secured the capital investment through our local growth fund to support this innovative and pioneering project.”