Making our cities easier to navigate for people with chronic pain

A lecture at Loughborough University.

We spoke with Charlotte and Laura from our Versus Arthritis research team to find out more about chronic pain research and the Loughborough University collaborative project.

Understanding chronic pain

We developed our pain roadmap from in-depth research (in 2015) involving people with arthritis, researchers and healthcare professionals. This work is vital in helping us to better understand the complexities of pain and how can we work towards making a difference to people’s daily lives.

Pain is complex: we need to think about it more in the lab and consider the science involved. We also need to think about the everyday aspects: how we go to work, how our homes function, using transport and technology.

There’s more to be done. This isn’t just about using medication to manage pain, this is about making a difference to people’s day-to-day experience when living with chronic pain, whether that’s related to arthritis or as part of other long-term health conditions.

How can chronic pain affect getting about?

Most people have to travel every day, whether it’s to go to work, to take children to school, to visit family or friends, to shop or visit the doctor. This can mean walking, cycling, driving or using public transport.

Chronic pain prevents people from being able to travel without causing distress and in many cases, people with pain report reducing the number and types of journeys they make. This can mean major changes in peoples’ lives, including an inability to continue working, lost social connections and lower levels of fitness.

How can Loughborough University London help?

We’re working with Loughborough University London as part of their Collaborative Project, a compulsory module for their 900 postgraduates which challenges students to work with external organisations to solve real business problems. Our groups of students will work on making cities easier to navigate and move around. This is about considering different environments and attitudes, and facilitating and building empathetic understanding.

The students come from a range of backgrounds, from marketing and communications to design. We want our groups of students to work on making cities easier to navigate and move around. This is about considering different environments and attitudes, and attitudes and facilitating and building empathetic understanding. understand about space and day to day environments, and the expectation is that they’ll present practical outcomes. This could be a campaign or redesigned systems and processes, for example.

Our progress so far

We started the programme a couple of weeks ago and the students have been briefed on who we are as a charity. In the briefing, we emphasised the importance of involving people with chronic pain in the design and development of their projects. Now we want them to get really stuck into the detail and look at the big areas of transport, like the Underground or Uber.

What’s next

We’ve been invited to review the project proposals and meet the students again on 5 December. An exhibition showcasing a selection of the best project outcomes will take place in March 2019.

We’re really excited about this work and are committed to do more in pain research. Our Pain Challenge 2019 research call launches on 28 November – this will continue our work to understand pain and improve the quality of life for people with arthritis.

Find out more: