New CAMERA Fully Funded PhD with Royal United Hospitals Bath



CAMERA is delighted to be working with the Royal United Hospitals Bath in a new 3 year PhD programme. This exciting collaboration between the NHS and our CAMERA researchers will be developing new technology to support assessment and long term care of patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA) describes a spectrum of disease including non-radiographic axial SpA (nr-axSpA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long-term condition in which the spine and other areas of the body become inflamed. Bones in the spine can fuse into a fixed position causing pain, reducing movement and leading to spinal fractures, osteoporosis, chest infections and cardiovascular diseases.There are several core assessment scales used to monitor axSpA disease progression. Many were developed in the RNHRD and are collectively known as the Bath Indices. This includes the BASFI, BASDAI and BASMI scales. In particular, the BASMI monitors the changes in spinal movement capability that result from worsening axSpA.

The BASMI is recognised as the most objective measure in AS treatment, and quantifies the mobility of the axial skeleton to monitor changes in spinal movement. It is the measure of choice put forward by ASAS (Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society) to measure spinal mobility in clinical trials and is very widely used.

By utilising computer vision and HCI visualisation techniques, alongside engineering solutions that exploit integral smartphone accelerometers/gyroscopes, it is envisaged that a complete tool can be developed allowing for objective, home-based, BASMI assessment. This can then be deployed alone or incorporated with related psychological and functional scales for ongoing AS assessment (e.g. BASDAI and BASFI) to create an accessible application to support long-term care.

By working to develop an automatic smartphone-based method for performing these measurements, a gold standard can be established for what is already a validated medical instrument. This will reduce the risk of clinician error and provide a method for patients to self-monitor their condition between appointments. New visualisation tools, presenting information generated using the automated measurement methods will provide valuable feedback for both patients and clinicians regarding disease progression and generate new knowledge about the impact and management of flares.

The 5 measurements which compose the BASMI are all suited to be measured through optical capture calculations and accelerometer/gyroscopic tools. Currently they are measured using basic techniques such as a ruler and the side of a patient’s face against a wall for accuracy.

By working to develop an automatic method for performing these measurements, a gold standard can be established for what is already a validated medical instrument. This will reduce the risk of clinician error and potentially create a method for patients to self-monitor their condition between appointments.

This will provide valuable feedback for both patients and their clinician regarding progression, response to exercise regimes/ medications and new knowledge about the impact and management of flare-ups. As such, this project will have significant impact for both academic research and clinical trials, and assessment work worldwide.

The funded PhD is currently open for applications: https://www.findaphd.com/search/projectdetails.aspx?PJID=97604


Written by CAMERA Centre Coordinator