Yarie Nikolic lives in Belrose, Sydney, and has osteoarthritis in her knees. She has been treated by Professor David Hunter, of Sydney Health Partners’ Musculoskeletal Clinical Stream since 2012, and outlines below how translational research has helped her and why she got involved.
Can you tell us a little about the treatments you have been involved in? What role have you had?
I have osteoarthritis in my knees and was diagnosed to have surgery but decided to attempt less invasive action. I was directed to the Osteoarthritis Chronic Care Program (OACCP) to help me self-manage my condition, reduce pain and improve my quality of life.
This program gave me 12 months of advice and exercises, and during this time I was asked if I would like to be a consumer representative for the OACCP. Since then I have attended forums, workshops, conferences and various meetings as well as appearing in the media to demonstrate exercises for pain management.
I have also taken part in the development of a Model of Care for knees, hips and lower back problems from the viewpoint of consumer, and I am also taking part in various musculoskeletal projects as a consumer for the Agency for Clinical Innovation.
Professor Hunter is very helpful in many ways, and he guides me to better understand osteoarthritis. He talks to me and not at me, and makes the subject more and more interesting.
Why did you get involved? What have been the advantages for you participating in this research/treatment?
For me it wasn’t something I set out to do, but one request led to another and it just happened. I personally find medicine and anything connected to it interesting. I enjoy speaking to people, so I am always asking others with osteoarthritis how they are progressing. I hear many points of view about different medications – there are some results that seem too good to be true, and then on the other hand some people report that nothing has changed for them.
For me the advantage of being involved has been bringing the patient’s point of view to the attention of the academics. It has also allowed me to learn – for me the more I learn the less I know!
Had you heard the term ‘translational research’ before getting involved? How would you explain it to those around you?
I am still learning, but it is about taking basic scientific research and translating it to improve treatment and outcomes for patients.