SOAR (Stop OsteoARthritis)

A unique program to help people reduce their risk of developing osteoarthritis after a sports injury.

The Problem

Sport and recreational activities are the #1 cause of joint injuries. And 50% of people who experience a knee injury, develop osteoarthritis – a serious disease that results in pain, physical disability, reduced quality of life, and increased risk of premature death.

Current Solution

Treatment of knee injuries tends to focus on returning to playing sports, with little effort spent on osteoarthritis prevention and education. Once a person is discharged from care for their initial knee injury, there can be a lot of uncertainty about how to manage knee health over time.

SOAR Program

SOAR is a new, online, exercise-based program created to help people boost their recovery from a knee injury and reduce their risk of developing osteoarthritis. It includes education, personalized exercise, activity tracking and weekly action planning.

The Program

Helping people take knee health into their own hands.


1 Day (2 hours)

  • Small group session to learn about osteoarthritis, ways to prevent it and more
  • Virtual knee assessment
  • Set first week exercise and physical activity goals

Physical Activity/Exercise
Program Tracking

8 Weeks

  • Weekly exercise and physical activity program
  • Weekly group exercise class
  • Track with TeleHab App and Fitbit

1:1 Physiotherapy Counselling

8 Weeks

  • Modify weekly exercise
  • Modify physical activity goals
  • Solve problems
“Today I’m not experiencing pain anymore. I’m able to be active in rugby every day, if I choose. And I’m also able to do normal things like go for hikes, walks and runs. SOAR has really brought me back to where I was before I had surgery. I would like to tell young athletes that they have control over their injuries and that it’s not inevitable that they’ll develop osteoarthritis.”

Rugby Player/SOAR Participant

The Goals

Participants work with a physiotherapist to co-develop personalized, weekly exercise-therapy goals.

The SOAR Program also has goals:

Teach and apply strategies to reduce knee osteoarthritis risk

Optimize knee muscle strength

Help people meet recommended physical activity levels

Provide a supportive environment for people who have experienced knee injuries to interact

“Can a person reduce their risk for osteoarthritis? The simple answer is yes! But they have to take action. SOAR helps people who’ve had a previous knee joint injury navigate their knee health and reduce their risk for osteoarthritis once they’ve been discharged from care for that knee injury.”
Dr. Jackie Whittaker

Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada

Research Scientist

Dr. Jackie Whittaker, BScPT, PhD

Dr. Jackie Whittaker, BScPT, PhD

Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada


Dr. Jackie Whittaker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia and is recognized as a Clinical Specialist in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy by the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

She completed her BScPT degree at the University of Alberta, PhD in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation at the University of Southampton (UK) and a post-doctoral fellowship, supported by an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Clinician Fellowship in injury prevention and epidemiology, at the University of Calgary.

She has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Research Director of the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Whittaker’s research focuses on preventing osteoarthritis resulting from traumatic sport-related knee joint injuries through: improving care pathways; seeking a better understanding of the consequences of these injuries and; optimizing function and healthy behaviours in persons that have suffered a sport-related knee injury or developed osteoarthritis prematurely as a result.