The MultiSim programme (sponsored by EPSRC under its Frontier Engineering Awards) held a two-day workshop to discuss the opportunities and technological challenges associated with modelling the neuromusculoskeletal (MSK) system. The workshop was attended by 40
participants from the UK MSK community including leading academics from 15 UK Universities, industrial representatives, key individuals from EPSRC, and several clinicians from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
MSK research has made significant progress in the last 5-10 years thanks in particular to the development of new computational modelling techniques and the intensified use of clinical imaging data. This has led to the development of multiscale models that include more and
more personalisation about the patient. Such models have enabled for example, much more accurate predictions of the risk of bone fracture in osteoporotic patients and helped surgeons to decide the optimal treatment for lower back pain in a patient-specific manner.
In the future, the use of such personalised medicine and multiscale models will intensify to provide more accurate clinical tools and reduce the costs associated with diagnosis,treatment and monitoring of patients.
With the integration of complex biological and physical processes, more transdisciplinarity between engineers, clinicians and biologists is required. This means that more efforts are needed to provide such interdisciplinary training at all levels and to facilitate clinicians to perform research. There is a risk of seeing those scientific and clinical progresses being hindered by the lack of adequate infrastructure that enables testing and validation of our MSK system, and that can handle the integration of large patient data in a seamless manner for the researcher, while preserving the anonymity of the patient. It was recognised that the MSK community needs to have a bigger say at the national level to adequately formulate the importance of MSK disorders within society and highlight the necessity of being included in
discussions on the modernisation of the healthcare system.
The outcomes from this workshop are well aligned with the research focus and strategic challenges outlined by several key funding bodies including the recent EPSRC Healthcare Technologies and Engineering Grand Challenges. It was concluded that a MSK network within UK should be developed as a result of this workshop.