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3 PhD STUDENT positions on Neuromuscular Control in Stroke an CPin the Netherlands

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  • 3 PhD STUDENT positions on Neuromuscular Control in Stroke an CPin the Netherlands

    3 PhD STUDENT positions available on Neuromuscular Control of the Ankle
    Joint in Stroke an Cerebral Palsy in the Netherlands.


    ROBot-aided system Identification: novel tools for diagnosis and
    assessment in Neurological rehabilitation. Acronym: ROBIN


    * Delft University of Technology (DUT)

    Biomechanical Engineering (BMechE), Neuromuscular Control Laboratory

    Delft Center for Systems and Control (DCSC)

    * Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Rehabilitation
    Medicine, Laboratory for Kinematics and Neuromechanics

    * Free University Medical Center (VUMC) Amsterdam, Rehabilitation
    Medicine, Gait Laboratory

    The BMechE group of DUT is headed by Prof. van der Helm and holds
    internationally recognized expertise on system identification and
    parameter estimation (SIPE) of the human neuromuscular system,
    biomechanical modeling of the upper and lower extremities and
    bio-inspired robotics. The Delft Center for Systems and Control (DCSC),
    headed by Prof. Verhaegen, has gained a prominent position in the field
    of system identification (non-linear and time-variant) through
    pioneering work in the area of subspace identification, required to deal
    with the highly nonlinear nature of the human movement system. The Dept.
    of Rehabilitation Medicine of the LUMC is headed by Prof. Arendzen and
    focuses on movement disorders in upper motor neuron diseases (UMND) and
    has ample experience with the application of engineering technology in
    human pathology. The Rehabilitation Dept. at the VUMC holds an
    (inter)nationally recognized expert center for treatment of cerebral
    palsy (CP) leaded by Prof. Becher and has expertise in clinically
    oriented research and state-of-the-art knowledge on lower extremity
    function (balance, walking).


    Stroke (or Cerebral Vascular Accident) results in acute brain damage and
    increasing incidence with age. CP is pre- or perinatal brain damage in a
    child that matures. Stroke and CP are Upper Motor Neuron Diseases (UMND)
    which also comprise diseases like Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord

    The overal goal of the ROBIN project is to improve clinical diagnosis
    and treatment evaluation in disorders of the neuromuscular system using
    new SIPE technology.

    The focus of ROBIN is forwarded from the fields of expertise of the
    collaborative laboratories and is threefold:

    1. Development of SIPE techniques to quantify the mechanical and
    neural components underlying human ankle impedance (1 PhD student

    2. Application of the new SIPE technology to stroke and CP patients
    to quantify the effect of different treatment modalities in terms of
    mechanical and neural components of ankle impedance (1 PhD student

    3. Analysis of the relationship between mechanical and neural
    components in ankle impedance to gait performance in stroke and CP
    patients (1 PhD student vacancy).

    ************************************************** ********************


    Application and development of SIPE technology for single joint

    The candidate will develop new time variant system identification
    techniques that build further onto so-called Linear Parameter Varying
    (LPV) models, describing the time-variant system dynamics. The methods
    will be developed in the context of subspace identification as developed
    by the DCSC group at DUT. To improve model identification and/or model
    interpretation both time domain and frequency domain points of view will
    be used in the above research lines.

    Important other aspects are the preparation and control of precise
    torque and angular perturbations using an ankle manipulator, development
    of measurement protocols, integration of ultrasonography into the
    mechanical measures and the development of nonparametric and physical
    models of the ankle impedance suited for parameterization into neural
    (e.g. reflexive) and non-neural (e.g. tissue elasticity) properties.


    Graduation at master level with strong background in system
    identification, linear and nonlinear systems analysis and neuromuscular
    modeling. Experience on time variant system identification is a pre.
    Hosting institute is DUT.

    ************************************************** ********************


    Determination of the value of the SIPE technology in clinical practice.

    The new SIPE technology as developed in WP1 will be applied on stroke
    and CP patients. Measurement protocols need to be developed that have
    the potential to separate patients from healthy controls and are
    sensitive to grade disease severity based on the estimated impedance
    parameters. Further, the effect of different existing treatment
    modalities on ankle impedance need to be determined based on impedance
    parameters. Impedance parameters will be related to existing clinical
    measures to indicate the added clinical value of the SIPE technology.

    Important aspects are the inclusion of patients from outpatient centers,
    conduction of experiments (clinical trials) using an ankle manipulator,
    data analysis and clinical evaluation of the results.


    Graduation at master level with strong background in biomedical, human
    movement or technical sciences. Educational or practicing skills on
    system identification, neuromuscular modeling and affinity/experience
    with clinical and experimental trials.[JH1]
    Hosting institute will be LUMC.

    ************************************************** ********************


    Evaluation of the relation between neuromuscular properties of the ankle
    joint and gait characteristics.

    Functional gain, i.e. increased walking ability in case of lower
    extremity involvement, is a major goal in rehabilitation. The high
    resolution and easy applicable single-joint approach (WP1 and WP2) has
    therefore to be ecologically validated, i.e. the significance of
    single-joint SIPE parameters in gait performance has to be determined.
    Comparison of single joint neuromuscular parameters to gait performance
    will allow for a gradual understanding of the role of these parameters
    in gait. Gait analysis (stability, energy, speed) will be performed
    using a treadmill and in parallel to single joint assessment for optimal
    adjustment of the clinical decision making process.

    Important aspects are the kinematic and kinetic analysis from measured
    treadmill data (ground reaction forces, motion cameras),
    parameterization of gait stability, energy (oxygen consumption) and gait
    performance and evaluation of different treatment of ankle impedance on
    these gait parameters.

    Profile[JH2] :

    Master degree in human movement sciences or a strongly related field.
    Experience in conducting gait studies, motion recording, kinetics,
    kinematics, neuromuscular modeling on single and multiple joint scales.
    Hosting will be at VUMC and the Rijnland Rehabilitation Center.

    ************************************************** ********************

    All three PhD positions are complementary and tightly coupled within the
    ROBIN framework.


    Salaries for PhD students in the Netherlands are determined at 2042 Euro
    in the first year to 2612 Euro in the fourth year (gross amount).

    Collaborating staff involved in the ROBIN project:

    Delft University of Technology (DUT), Biomechanical Engineering

    Erwin de Vlugt, PhD (project leader)

    Frans C.T. van der Helm, PhD

    Alfred C. Schouten, PhD

    Delft University of Technology, Delft Center for Systems and Control

    Michel Verhaegen, PhD

    Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Department of Rehabilitation

    Carel G.M. Meskers, PhD, MD

    Jurriaan H. de Groot, PhD

    J. Hans Arendzen, PhD, MD

    V.U. Medical Center (VUMC), Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

    Jaap Harlaar, PhD

    Jules G. Becher, PhD, MD

    Gert Kwakkel, PhD

    If you are interested in one of these vacancies, please contact with
    Erwin de Vlugt at by
    sending a letter clearly stating your skills and motivation and a
    separate CV. Do not hesitate to ask for additional information.


    Erwin de Vlugt, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Neuromuscular Control

    Biomechanical Engineering

    Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

    Delft University of Technology

    Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft

    The Netherlands

    phone 015-2785247

    fax 015-2784714