Heather Gray

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I am currently the Head of Physiotherapy & Paramedicine at Glasgow Caledonian University and Chair of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's Professional Committee. I have worked at the University of Glasgow in several research positions. I am on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Physical Therapy Education. Other work in which I have been involved is as an Educational Consultant with NHS Education for Scotland. Prior to moving into academia I worked in the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland as a physiotherapist for 11 years.


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Systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain

Global people

Many of my Musculoskeletal Elf colleagues make their livelihood from building and constructing; therefore, I was quite excited to see that the focus of this year’s National Back Pain week in the UK is on “Builders’ Backs”. According to the statistics in the campaign pack by BackCare (the UK’s National Pack Pain Association) 30,000 UK construction workers [read the full story…]

Clinical screening tests for assessing movement control in low-back pain: a systematic review


Today is the final day of the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapists (IFOMPT) Conference in Quebec, Canada. The conference includes presentations from international experts on a wide array of issues related to clinical assessment and treatment. In a previous blog I looked at an article on whether or not  individuals’ movement patterns can be altered as [read the full story…]

Effectiveness of self-management of low back pain: systematic review with meta-analysis

you can do it

This week in Scotland has been designated as self-management week. There is a growing awareness that low back pain (LBP) is a long term condition and that self-management can decrease the burden of this, and many other, conditions. To date, self-management has been described as a model of care where patients use strategies to manage and monitor [read the full story…]

Lifestyle and behaviour change interventions in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis


Have you ever tried to make and sustain a lifestyle or behaviour change? How easy was it? Someone once explained to me that some things in life are simple, but that doesn’t equate to them being easy. For example, if you want to lose weight, it’s simple – exercise more and eat less, but if [read the full story…]

Masterclass in standardised data collection tools to support and inform musculoskeletal practice

Ruler 130 percent

In common with other healthcare professionals across the globe, we musculoskeletal elves are under great pressure to account for the way in which we deliver our services and the quality of this delivery. Therefore, it was with delight that I came across a masterclass on the concept of standardised data collection (SDC), and how this [read the full story…]

Risk Factors for the Onset of Nonspecific Low Back Pain in Office Workers: A Systematic Review

Woman at computer

Although most Musculoskeletal Elves lead very physically active lives there are a small minority of Elves who are office based. Occasionally I hear them complain of episodes of low back pain and they have enquired of me as to what contributed to its onset. Although I felt I had a reasonable idea as to the main [read the full story…]

Modifying patterns of movement in people with low back pain – does it help? A systematic review

Gym ball exercises 2

On returning home from a recent Pilates class I wondered to myself as to what effect, if any, the exercises had on my movement and posture. I reflected also on the fact that nearly every exercise class that I had been to recently seemed to emphasise the importance of having a good ‘core’. Physiotherapists are [read the full story…]

Is Work Load a Risk Factor for Osteoarthritis of the Hip? A Systematic Review

man pulling pallet

A previous blog by one of our industrious Musculoskeletal Elves looked at how osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip or knee affected work participation. This got me thinking about the converse situation – can work be a predisposing factor for the development of OA? We Elves are involved in quite a lot of heavy lifting, particularly around Christmas [read the full story…]

Osteoarthritis of the hip or knee and work participation: a systematic review

All stakeholders should be involved using a worker support approach

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip or knee joints is a very common condition amongst the elderly; however, what is often forgotten is that its onset is often while people are still in paid employment, which may lead to perceived difficulties in performing work tasks. We Elves are very hard-working individuals, so I asked myself, in [read the full story…]

Systematic review of patient-specific instruments measuring physical function


While talking to a fellow Elf recently at the World Congress of Active Ageing in Glasgow this week about the core set of outcome measures that have been introduced across Scotland as part of its re-designed musculoskeletal pathways (NHS Scotland, 2012) she asked me an interesting question: “do you think that a patient-specific functional scale [read the full story…]