University of Regina researcher looking at exercise to combat back pain

Posted: January 18, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Dr. Paul Bruno looks at matching exercises to back problems in hopes of alleviating pain.
Dr. Paul Bruno looks at matching exercises to back problems in hopes of alleviating pain. U of R Photography Dep't

An estimated 80 per cent of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. For many, exercise is generally recommended as treatment. In the absence of specific exercise protocols, however, it's difficult for health care practitioners to determine what type of exercise will help a patient the most.

Dr. Paul Bruno hopes to change that.

Trying to match specific back problems with the exercises that might alleviate the pain is Bruno's chief research goal as he begins work as the University of Regina's Chiropractic Research Chair in Neuromusculoskeletal Health.

"My main area is looking at how to better tailor exercise treatment protocols for specific patients," he says.

The research involves looking at clinical testing procedures that can be used to assess the nature of a patient's back pain, then using the information to identify exercises that are most likely to help a specific problem.

"It's looking at how specific tests and exercises can impact back pain," Bruno says. "That is the end goal - to match specific exercises with specific presentations to make treatment plans more efficient and cost-effective."

"Success in this research would be welcome news as chronic back pain is a very common condition and it's still poorly understood," he explains.  

His position, which is funded by a $500,000 gift to the University from the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation (CCRF), is housed in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies (KHS). Bruno does much of his work in the KHS Neuromechanical Research Centre, which has the sophisticated equipment required to record muscle activity and quantify movement. Other KHS research facilities available to him include the Dr. Paul Schwann Applied Health and Research Centre, the Centre for Exercise and Nutrition in Falls and Aging Research and the Exercise Physiology Laboratory.

Bruno has spent much of the time since his arrival last summer conducting groundwork important to his success as Chiropractic Research Chair - meeting chiropractors, other medical practitioners and fellow academics, both at the University and in the community, explaining his own research plans and opening the door to future collaboration.

Along with his research, Bruno says he wants to give back to the chiropractic association and chiropractic community; in particular, he wants to encourage more chiropractic research through activities such as workshops on research and establishment of a chiropractic research working group.

Before coming to the University of Regina, Bruno was a faculty member at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic in Bournemouth, England. He has studied at the University of British Columbia, the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto and the University of Portsmouth in England.