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PhD studentships at CREST

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  • PhD studentships at CREST

    PhD studentships in equine biomechanics, upper limb biomechanics or biotribology are currently available at the Centre for Rehabilitation and Engineering Studies (CREST) at Newcastle University.

    The successful applicants will join a vibrant research group within the School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering. Funding to cover fees and provide an additional tax-free stipend of around 13,000 p.a. is available for UK students or those "ordinarily resident" in the UK. EU students are normally eligible for fees funding only. Applications are invited from committed individuals, who have a 1st class or upper 2nd class honours degree, or masters, in a related discipline. Project details follow below.

    Informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr Sian Lawson, 0191 222 8224, for equine or human biomechanics or to Dr Tom Joyce, 0191 222 6214, for biotribology.

    Equine Biomechanics:
    This project aims to examine the development of kinematics and tendon and ligament strains in the performance horse and hence the potential for prediction of injury. The economic and welfare importance of lameness in performance horses has long been established and the potential for the prediction of kinematic development is important as an indicator of the value of a horse and for the avoidance of future injuries. Some studies have started to examine kinematics in the young horse however there is still little information on how kinematics and tendon strain mature over time. A technique has been developed for this which has been shown to provide very good results for curve fitting and prediction for similar data. This project will examine the development of joint angles and movement patterns in young horses using non-invasive optical motion analysis, a biomechanical model and a statistical model.

    The previously developed musculo-skeletal model will be adapted and used to calculate digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament strain from the recorded kinematics, as these are areas with a high incidence of injury. Data will be collected on the incidence and type of injuries of all horses during and after the testing period. We will compare tendon strains inter-individual and retrospectively examine the data for the population who developed injuries for significant predictors. Facilities include a Vicon optical motion analysis system, two force plates, electromyography and medical imaging. Full training will be given in all procedures, and there is some scope for the candidate to focus the project on the aspects of most interest. A drivers license and willingness to travel to national and international collaborating sites are preferred.

    Paediatric Upper Limb Biomechanics:
    The development of locomotion in children has been widely studied, and recent work has begun to look at the kinematics of the upper limb in children however the development of upper limb biomechanics including reaching and grasping is still poorly understood. The Newcastle Shoulder Model allows the calculation of joint kinematics and muscle, ligament and joint forces from captured or simulated motion, however currently it is not adapted to children and does not yet include the hand. This project would involve adapting this biomechanical model and uses optical motion capture, haptic interfaces and medical imaging to explore the kinematics and morphology of young children, and the effect of age and growth. The long-term objective is to contribute to the development of interventions for children with impaired upper limb movement, such as children with cerebral palsy or traumatic head injuries. This is a broad project and hence there is scope for the candidate to focus on the aspects of most interest.

    The population of Europe is an ageing population and therefore the significance of diseases associated with ageing is increasing. Osteoarthritis is a common disease primarily affecting the large joints of the body such as the hip and the knee. In the worst cases the joint can become so damaged and painful that it is replaced with an artificial joint. While most such replacement joints are successful, the majority of those that fail in the body do so due to the wear of the materials used in them.

    The science of wear, lubrication and friction related to such joints is known as biotribology. This studentship will investigate the wear of biomaterials used in total joints in the presence of a range of clinically-valid lubricants. The aims are to better understand the wear processes taking place and to see if improved wear performance can be obtained through enhancements to the biolubricants. The project will blend theoretical analysis with experimentally obtained knowledge. Experimental data will initially be obtained from an array of multi-station, clinically-validated wear test rigs. In these rig, factors such as loading, speed, motion and lubricant can all be varied and thus their influence on the wear process studied. The long-term objective is to contribute to the development of improved replacement joints for the benefit of patients fitted with them.

    Dr Tom Joyce
    Lecturer in Bioengineering
    Centre for Rehabilitation and Engineering Studies (CREST) School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering Stephenson Building Newcastle University Claremont Road Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 7RU

    Tel: +44 191 2226214
    Fax: +44 191 2228600

    Dr. Sian E. M. Lawson
    Lecturer in Bioengineering
    Centre for Rehabilitation and Engineering Studies (CREST) School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering Newcastle University, U.K.
    tel: +44 (0)191 222 8224
    fax: +44 (0)191 222 8600