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New research hopes to help cancer patients to lead fuller lives


Pioneering research by a Leeds Beckett University PhD student, funded by the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, is examining the benefits of kinesiology taping – the use of a sports medicine technique which could help improve the lives of cancer patients.

Gourav Banerjee working with colleagues

The project is led by Gourav Banerjee, with support from Alison Rose, renowned sports physiotherapist who worked with Jane Tomlinson, and Professors Michelle Briggs and Mark Johnson within Leeds Beckett’s Centre for Pain Research.

Gourav presented his research findings so far at an event held in Leeds on Monday 24 April with healthcare professionals from all across the country.

Gourav Banerjee presenting at the event

The study began almost three years ago to fulfil Jane’s wish to fund research into kinesiology taping to see if it could help other cancer patients to manage their symptoms, in the same way it had helped her.

Alison Rose originally applied the technique to Jane, making a huge difference to the quality of her life. Alison spoke at the event, revealing she had learned of the technique through a chance conversation with a colleague in Scotland.

Professor Johnson explained: “The purpose of the event was twofold. Firstly, to update delegates on the progress of the PhD project and, secondly, to gather the views of practitioners and patients about our findings to inform recommendations for clinical practice. Delegates came from all over the U.K. and the event was a great success.”

Kate Goldring, Appeal Manager, opened the event by speaking about the activities of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal; Mike Tomlinson, Jane’s husband, explained how the partnership between Leeds Beckett and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal came about; and Professor Johnson give an overview of pain research at Leeds Beckett. Gourav Banerjee provided an update of the project, before Professor Briggs, PhD supervisor, facilitated a discussion to gather feedback from delegates about the research findings.

Gourav Banerjee

Professor Johnson added: “I am extremely proud of Gourav as he was instrumental in instigating, organising and delivering the event in partnership with Kate Goldring.

“I believe that our research award students should be given as many opportunities as possible to present their research in formal settings. They find this daunting but extremely valuable. I am always amazed by how well our research award students present their findings in formal settings and Gourav continued with this tradition.

"The project and partnership with the Jane Tomlinson Appeal has been very successful and we have already published a number of research articles from the project, including a seminal case report. The project has six months before completion although we are hoping to continue the research and the partnership for many more years."

Kate Goldring said: "It was such an interesting and important day for all at the Appeal. Hearing more about the research and seeing the responses from such a range of professionals was fantastic. We look forward to sharing the results in October."

Many areas were discussed including barriers to using the technique and the potential impact of the technique on lymphedema and respiratory issues.

 Gourav Banerjee working with colleagues

Kinesiology taping is a technique that has become popular in recent years, especially in the context of prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. The technique uses an elastic, waterproof, porous, adhesive therapeutic tape, with a thickness of 0.5 mm and varying shapes, sizes and colours. Kinesiology tape is applied to various sites of the skin to apply mild tension to underlying structures. It is claimed that kinesiology taping improves muscle strength and tone, circulation of blood and lymph, and decreases pain.

Recently, it was estimated that 50% people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Therefore, there is an ever increasing need to find effective approaches to manage symptoms resulting from the disease and its treatment.

Some practitioners have started to use kinesiology taping to manage cancer-related symptoms. However, there has been very little research so far on the type of symptoms that respond best to kinesiology taping and what is the most effective clinical technique in this setting.

The Leeds Beckett project has involved a number of phases including reviewing published research to identify what type of symptoms kinesiology taping might be useful for; a survey to assess the extent of current use of kinesiology taping in cancer settings; experiments to gain insights into the physiological effects of kinesiology taping on healthy human volunteers; and clinical studies to determine whether individuals with cancer find kinesiology taping acceptable and beneficial.

The findings of the research study will be used to inform practitioners about the use of kinesiology taping for people with cancer and provide investigators with information about the direction for future research.

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