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PhD position, Cardiff University, UK

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  • PhD position, Cardiff University, UK

    The School of Healthcare Studies at Cardiff University (UK) invites applications for a PhD position to start September 2012. This is a 3 year position and is part of the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre (

    There is a choice from 3 potential PhD project topics:
    1. Real-time virtual reality feedback rehabilitation of knee injured patients
    Osteoarthritis can stop patients from performing daily activities at their desired level. Loading lower limb joints in particular the medial compartment of the knee, has been considered to play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. Joint loading can be influenced by consciously altering the gait pattern, which may prevent or delay joint surgery.
    This research project will use real-time virtual reality feedback aiming to: 1) develop new rehabilitation diagnosis and intervention protocols using biomechanical principles combined with physiotherapy expertise to improve function and reduce pain in a range of lower limb disorders and 2) explore how biomechanical feedback can be used to influence gait and joint loading.
    This real-time virtual reality feedback is a novel technology that enables visualisation of normally invisible forces acting on the body. This feedback on movement and forces can be provided in a visual manner that is understandable for patients and clinicians. The virtual reality environment also enables assessing gait in a realistic (e.g. a forest or path) in contrast to a laboratory environment.
    The PhD student will work in an interdisciplinary team of biomechanists and physiotherapists and there is also opportunity to link into biological work at the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre.
    This project will involve development of software for rehabilitation protocols, patient recruitment, data collection with knee injured patients, and validation of the developed protocols.

    2. Translating biomechanics into clinical measures for rehabilitation
    Knee injured patients are often not able to return to their pre-injury level of activity. Early identification of patients who will not be able to return to their desired level of activity, will inform both patient and clinician and improve rehabilitation treatment selection.
    This PhD studentship will link in with a current longitudinal study on ACL injured patients. The aims of the studentship are: 1) to identify the most relevant biomechanical predictors of successful rehabilitation that can be translated into clinical practice, 2) to identify the constraints of measuring these biomechanical predictors in a clinical setting, 3) propose clinical measures to predict rehabilitation success of knee injured patients, and 4) test the proposed clinical measures in a clinical and a laboratory setting.
    The PhD student will work in an interdisciplinary team of biomechanists and physiotherapists and there is also opportunity to link into biological work at the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre.
    This project will involve: interpretation and further analysis of already available kinematic and kinetic data on functional activities of ACL injured patients; development of novel clinical measures; patient recruitment (for aim 4); data collections with knee injured patients; and validation of the developed clinical measures.

    3. The effect of loading and alignment on joint structures during functional activities and exercises in knee patients and healthy subjects
    Typically, during every day functional activities, joints are exposed to a substantial amount of loading, which the anatomical structures are capable of withstanding. However, factors such as malalignment and injuries can disrupt this balance. Furthermore, surgery and rehabilitation aimed at restoring joint structure and function to enable a return to normal activities often do not adequately prevent patients from long term complications such as osteoarthritis.

    In this study, participants from 3 knee patient groups and a healthy group will be investigated using movement analysis, electromyography (EMG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and dynamic fluoroscopy. They will carry out a number of weight-bearing activities. Using everyday movements and therapeutic adaptations of these movements, a range of loading situations will be studied to determine their effect on the knee. In particular, the role of different lower limb muscles will be a focus of interest. Details of 3D joint loading will be determined using musculoskeletal modelling based on movement analysis combined with EMG. Image analysis of MRI and fluoroscopy collected during different loading situations will be used to determine joint surface kinematics and the effect on distinct knee structures.

    This is a highly interdisciplinary project carried out in collaboration between two biomechanics laboratories of the Schools of Engineering (Biomechanical Engineering) and Healthcare Studies (Physiotherapists and Clinical Kinaesiologists). It is intended to identify which movement strategies best control joint loading with or without the presence of knee pathology and to provide detailed insight into the mechanisms of dynamic joint stability.

    Discipline Hopping: Opportunities exist to work across academic disciplines such as Biomedical Sciences, Engineering and in Physiotherapy, Orthopaedics, Rheumatology settings.
    Requirements: Upper Second Class Honours Degree or above, in an appropriate subject which provides a sound basis for applied biomechanics.
    Skills: This project is ideally suited for a motivated student with specific interest in experimental and computational research involving 3D motion capture and dynamic analysis. Necessary training can be provided.
    Eligibility: The full studentship (fees and stipend) is available to UK or EU students only. The total stipend will be £13,590 per annum (2011). Applications from other candidates with their own sources of funding are welcomed. Outstanding students will be eligible for the award of a prestigious President’s Scholarship.

    Informal Enquiries: Dr Paulien Roos:, +44(0)29 2068 7760
    Application: Apply on line to Prof Vic Duance, School of Biosciences:

    Closing Date: January 31st 2012