09:39 AM


Partnership guides new hemophilia treatment protocols

When Hamilton Health Sciences physiotherapist Karen Strike questioned how she could provide more accurate treatment information to hemophilia patients, she turned to Mohawk College.

Six years later, the result is the development of protocols, training, and research validating the use of point-of-care ultrasound on the frontlines of hemophilia treatment.

“We have an exceptional reputation in the area of medical imaging,” said Wendy Lawson, Associate Dean, Special Projects, at the School of Health at Mohawk College.

This collaboration builds on the partnership of Mohawk and McMaster University at the Institute for Applied Health Sciences (IAHS).

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder with no cure that affects patients across their lifespan. A common complication is spontaneous bleeding into joints and muscles that causes pain and limits mobility. But most critically, blood damages cartilage and bone, made worse by physical activity, says Strike.

Since the bleeding is episodic, it’s crucial to determine accurately when it’s appropriate for a patient to return to normal activities.

Strike’s research confirms that if the patient or a parent of a child can see in an ultrasound image that blood is still present, it helps them stay committed to a treatment plan.

“It’s so meaningful to see their own joint in real time.”

Lawson is chair of a national steering committee guiding the adoption of point-of-care ultrasound. At least one physiotherapist from 17 of the country’s 25 hemophilia clinics has been trained, along with international practitioners. The team has published papers and presented internationally.

The IAHS work began with joints and it is now the only centre to offer training in ultrasound for muscles. It is also launching a lab at IAHS to develop and test training and protocols for other disciplines, including neonatology and obstetrics.

“We are extremely excited and proud of what we have accomplished and what potential lies ahead,” said Lawson. She credits the involvement of Dr. Anthony Chan, a hematologist and chair of research at the department of pediatric medicine at McMaster.

“This initiative has come out of the power of an inter-disciplinary team. It has been so successful for patients because everyone has brought their strengths and their expertise to the project team.