IMHA Strategic Research PrioritiesIMHA has three Strategic Research Priorities that include research that fits into one or more of the four Themes of CIHR (Biomedical, Clinical, Health Services, and Population Health) and one or more of our six focus areas. IMHA supports research that will create new knowledge, or lead to translation of existing knowledge, including research on specific knowledge translation techniques pertaining to any IMHA-relevant area. IMHA's three Strategic Research Priorities are:
- Physical Activity, Mobility and Health
- Tissue Injury, Repair and Replacement
- Pain, Disability and Chronic Diseases
Physical Activity, Mobility and Health
A healthy musculoskeletal (MSK) system is linked fundamentally to an individual's ability to be mobile and physically active. Personal well being, and the health of many if not all other body systems, is negatively impacted when musculoskeletal health is impaired. Exercise and movement in younger to older populations is important for the maintenance of musculoskeletal health and the prevention and management of injuries and MSK diseases such as arthritis. Insufficient physical activity is known to be harmful, and similarly, too intense activity can lead to temporary or permanent injury, inflammation and/or disease.
Research performed under this area (our "flagship" area as outlined in our most recent Strategic Plan) should create a better understanding of the relationships between physical activity, mobility and MSK health. This would include (but not be limited to) research aimed at defining the thresholds beyond which MSK physical activity, mobility and sport-related activities are "good" (create health) versus where they can cause injury or disease. Increasing our knowledge of these thresholds is a major IMHA strategy in MSK injury and disease prevention, treatment and MSK rehabilitation (e.g. preventing or treating chronic musculoskeletal diseases including arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.), and will help increase our understanding of how to better maintain joint health, and to treat bone and joint injury.
(Note: research investigating physical activity will be prioritized in IMHA-relevant areas, although all research questions pertaining to physical activity will be considered).
Tissue Injury, Repair and Replacement
It is well known that injuries to bones, joints (bone, cartilage and related soft tissues.), muscles (including tendons), teeth (including other oral tissues) and skin (wounds and burns) are all very common and recover slowly, if at all. Healing of all of these tissues (and their surrounding tissues) is generally painful, slow and incomplete. The majority of these conditions often require lengthy and expensive treatments including MSK rehabilitation, grafting or replacement (e.g. joints, teeth, skin, etc.). An unacceptable number also result in chronic cosmetic, psychological and/or physical disabilities. Not surprisingly, the pain and financial burden placed on individuals and their families can have a negative impact on quality of life.
In light of this, there is a need for highly innovative research into the cause, prevention, and treatment of these broadly defined (acute and chronic) injuries. Research performed under this priority should create a better understanding of tissue injury, repair, and replacement. This would include research on gross tissue injuries, or injury at microscopic level by a variety of processes (e.g., loading, biochemical or inflammatory injury, infection), external factors (e.g. toxins, chemicals, sunlight, etc.), or genetic diseases of relevance to IMHA (e.g., muscular dystrophy, etc.) that predispose people to injury and interfere with repair in ways that need to be further defined and prevented. In addition, IMHA will support research that addresses replacement options, including natural possibilities and bioengineering solutions.
Pain, Disability and Chronic Disease
Pain and disability are very common sequellae of all chronic diseases (congenital and acquired) that exist within all IMHA-relevant areas, including arthritis, metabolic bone disorders and fractures, to osteoporosis, periodontal disease and soft tissue injuries. They can affect people of any age, with a number of congenital conditions being relevant (e.g. muscular dystrophy, osteogenesis imperfecta, etc.). The prevalence of many chronic diseases and conditions in Canada is expected to increase and to consume a great proportion of our Country's health care resources. Unfortunately, chronic pain, loss of mobility and function, and loss of independence are common outcomes of a host of IMHA-related conditions.
The primary focus of research under this area is to better understand the causes, optimal treatment and elimination of pain and disability in all relevant IMHA disease areas. Equally important is research that will either directly or indirectly lead to the prevention of pain and disability in all six IMHA foci. The mechanisms and causes of pain and disability must be identified and strategies aimed at decreasing and eliminating those entities are encouraged. Further, there is a need to better understand IMHA-relevant chronic diseases (including prevention, causes, and treatment), and to understand the relationships between chronic diseases and conditions within IMHA's mandate and other diseases/conditions.