RPH Physiotherapy research wins international award

Photograph of Hayley Rice
April 13, 2018

Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) Physiotherapist Hayley Rice has won the best research poster prize at a major medical meeting, beating more than 300 other researchers, for a project showing that inpatients with pneumonia who are frail are less active during their admission.

Hayley’s poster was deemed the best research poster at the National Scientific Meeting of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, which was recently held in Adelaide.

The poster showed the outcome of an observational study which demonstrated that patients hospitalised with community-acquired pneumonia, who are characterised by high clinical frailty and disease severity scores, may benefit from targeted walking-based interventions.

Hayley said the findings would be useful for clinicians to target those patients at risk of low walking-based activity.

She said the idea behind this study was informed by earlier work into the impact of walking-based activity on length-of-stay in hospital and patient outcome, and that her own study results could be used to inform further research.

“This could lead to an interventional study with a structured walking program for these patients,” she said.

The research was co-authored by Associate Professor Kylie Hill, Dr Robin Fowler, Acting Physiotherapy Department Head Carol Watson, Professor Grant Waterer and Dr Meg Harrold.

The project was part of Hayley’s Master’s degree being undertaken through the Curtin University School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, and while there were two years of preparation, she said she spent eight months collecting data, working seven days a week to ensure the data was robust and covered the whole service.

“We wanted accurate representation of what current practice is, and things can be different on different days so I needed to collect data every day of the week,” she said.

Two hundred patients participated in the study, and many of them wore step counting devices.

Hayley said the project was possible because the Physiotherapy Department was flexible and supported research.

“RPH is an institution that supports clinical research, and the success of this project was largely because of the support from our Physiotherapy Head of Department.”