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Principal Investigator
Dr Jonathan Peake, PhD
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Queensland University of Technology
Musk Avenue
Kelvin Grove, QLD 4059
Phone: +61 7 3138 6140
Fax: +61 7 3138 0630
Email: jonathan.peake@qut.edu.au

Other Investigators
Dr Roland Steck, PhD
Medical Engineering Research Facility
Queensland University of Technology
A/Prof Mia Woodruff, PhD
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Queensland University of Technology
Dr Tony Parker, PhD
Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Queensland University of Technology

The project will be conducted at the Medical Engineering Research Facility and Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology.

Hypothesis and Aims

Hypothesis: The underlying hypotheses for this project are:
  1. hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) will accelerate resolution of inflammation and promote angiogenesis in skeletal muscle following contusion injury; and
  2. faster resolution of inflammation and greater angiogenesis will translate to more effective muscle regeneration.

Aims: The aims of this project are to:

  1. characterise inflammation, fibrosis and angiogenesis that occur following contusion injury in skeletal muscle; and
  2. compare the effects of HBOT versus no treatment on markers of inflammation and angiogenesis;
  3. examine the overall effects of changes in inflammation, fibrosis and angiogenesis on regeneration of skeletal muscle.

Outcomes and significance

Outcomes: The major outcomes for this project will include:

  1. characterisation of the profile of changes in inflammation and angiogenesis in skeletal muscle in the days and weeks following contusion injury;
  2. evidence for the efficacy of HBOT to expedite resolution of inflammation, promote angiogenesis and accelerate muscle regeneration following injury.


Musculoskeletal injury is a common complication of sporting activities, domestic, workplace and vehicle accidents. In 2005, one in every two adults (107.7 million) in the United States reported a musculoskeletal condition that lasted 3 months or longer over a 1 year period. This was nearly twice the number of people who reported any other medical condition. More than three of every five accidental injuries that occur each year in the United States are musculoskeletal injuries. Of the 57.2 million musculoskeletal injuries that were treated in health care settings in 2004 in the United States, 28% were sprains and strains incurred during sudden movement or excessive use, whereas 15% were contusions or bruises.

In Australia, the prevalence and costs of workplace injury is estimated at 5.3%
(15-20% as joint or muscle conditions) and $32 billion, respectively. The incidence and cost of sports injuries are estimated at 20 per 1000 hours and $126 per individual, respectively. In addition to these direct / indirect costs, musculoskeletal injuries are also associated with intangible costs such as the psychosocial burden caused by job stress, economic hardship, family stress and suffering. The most common sites of muscle and tendon sprains and strains are the back, shoulder and knee. Common mechanisms for these musculoskeletal injuries included lifting or carrying packing boxes/crates, handling people, vehicle accidents and falling or slipping on poor ground surfaces.

Early intervention is recognised as an important step in recovery from musculoskeletal injuries. However, healthcare systems are often not resourced or required to prioritise early interventions that are likely to have clinical and work-related benefits. Furthermore, despite the high prevalence and cost of musculoskeletal injuries, research expenditure into treatment and rehabilitation strategies remains very low compared with expenditure on other health research.

Collectively, these facts and figures highlight the need for further research on treatment strategies for musculoskeletal injuries that will reduce the medical costs, economic and social burden associated with such injuries. The proposed research is significant because it will:

  1. be the first to investigate the effects of HBOT on recovery from traumatic muscle injury;
  2. be the first to examine how HBOT affects inflammation and oxygen-sensitive molecules that regulate angiogenesis in skeletal muscle; and
  3. help to evaluate HBOT for the healing of traumatic muscle injury through the generation of quantitative and mechanistic scientific data

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