An Orthotist who works at The Orthopaedic Hospital is celebrating after reaching the end of a two-year project to help create guidelines that will standardise clinical practice nationally.

Emma Bonnick, senior orthotist, was one of three Orthotists commissioned by BAPO (British Association of Prosthetists & Orthotists) to run a series of spinal bracing surveys to reveal spinal bracing clinical practice across the UK, with the aim of improving current practices for patients.

The main findings of the study were that practice was not consistent between Orthotists across the country.

Following on from this, the aim was to develop national Trauma Spinal Bracing Guidelines using evidence-based findings to give recommendations as to the type of spinal brace to use to stabilise each level and type of spinal injury.

Emma has spent the past two years on the project, alongside Helen Walker, Lead Orthotist at Wirral University Teaching Hospital – formerly an Orthopaedic member of staff – and Jonathan Tebbutt, Lead Orthotist at Hywel Dda – the health board for Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Emma said: “I feel incredibly proud that we’ve completed these guidelines, it’s been two years of extremely hard work but I always knew how worthwhile this would be because it would mean there would be a gold-standard of standardised practice and that’s important because there are no guidelines currently set out to help Orthotists with decision making regarding patients with spinal injuries.

“The initial study that we carried out really demonstrated the need for such guidelines as many Orthotists’ practice was based on anecdotal evidence, as opposed to actual hard evidence.”

As it stands the guidelines are currently going through copyrighting ahead of them being published, which is likely to take place over the New Year, according to Emma.

Jane Dewsbury, principal orthotist at the Orthopaedic, said: “I’m immensely proud of the dedication Emma has shown to helping produce these guidelines. Emma has spent copious amounts of her own time, energy and passion into this. She’s spent many evenings and many days of her annual leave on this, and all of it is to make current practices better for the patient.

“These guidelines are also brilliant for the Orthopaedic because this is where this all started from as Helen Walker used to work here. It’s brilliant to see the Orthopaedic leading the way and playing a crucial part in improving practice in Orthotics.”