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PhD student position in gait biomechanics using virtual reality (Montreal, Canada)

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  • PhD student position in gait biomechanics using virtual reality (Montreal, Canada)

    Ph.D. position on the use of modulated self-avatars for gait rehabilitation

    Program: Doctorat in Engineering (Ph.D.), specialization in Health Technologies.

    Supervisors: David Labbe and Rachid Aissaoui, both professors at Ecole de technologie superieure in Montreal, Canada ( and researchers at CHUM Research Center (

    Immersive VR, whereby a user is completely visually immersed in a virtual environment, offersthe possibility of simulating a user’s visual self-representation in a virtual environment. In otherwords, the user sees himself as an avatar rather than seeing his actual body. When the avatarmimics the user’s movements in real-time with a very short delay (i.e. when visuomotorsynchronicity is high), this results in a subjective feeling of ownership of the avatar (also calledembodiment) where the user feels the avatar is his actual physical body.

    When a user’s body is not spatially aligned with the body of his avatar, embodiment leads him toexperience a proprioceptive drift meaning that the perceived position of his limbs drifts towardsthat of the virtual avatar. In the right conditions, users will also physically drift towards theposition of their virtual limbs. This is further evidence that the perception of our body is aflexible multisensory construction and that it can be modified by altering visual self-representation. Our multidisciplinary has developed a real-time self-avatar for gait rehabilitationwhere motor deficits are visually diminished in order to induce changes in the gait patterns ofpost-stroke patients who have asymmetrical gait. Our preliminary work has shown the feasibilityof inducing changes in the gait patterns of healthy subjects by manipulating the movements oftheir self-avatar. The proposed project aims to model these modulations of an avatars movementsand to better comprehend the underlying mechanisms and how to fully exploit them. This will bedone by: measuring the effect of the strength of the ownership illusion, comparing the impact ofexaggerating vs diminishing motor deficits, validating the methods with post-stroke hemipareticpatients, measuring post-effects, etc.

    The candidate will collaborate with two other Ph.D. students as well as Master’s students and
    graduate students in the fields of computer science, biomechanics and physical rehabilitationwith related projects (addition of proprioceptive illusions using vibrations, control of a self-avatar using a brain-computer interface, etc.).


    A research-oriented Masters’ degree (M.Sc.) in a health-related field (physiotherapy,kinesiology, ergonomics, rehabilitation, biomedical engineering, etc.) with expertise in gaitbiomechanics, motor control or human movement analysis. Some experience in virtual reality orcomputer programming (C#, java, Unity 3D, Matlab) is an advantage. Proficiency reading,writing and speaking in English or French is a necessity (ETS is a primarily French University).

    Ecole de technologie superieure (ETS) is one of Canada’s largest engineering schools (. Theproposed project is part of a collaboration with researchers from the Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal Rehabilitation Institute and is financed by an FRQNT grant. An academic scholarshipof 21,000$ CAD / year for 3 years is offered. The position is open for a candidate beginning inthe summer 2018 or fall 2018 semester. The candidate will conduct his (her) research at theLaboratoire de recherche en imagerie et orthopédie (Imaging and Orthopaedics Research Lab),situated in the CHUM Research Center in Montreal, Canada. Our laboratory is very dynamicand multidisciplinary, bringing together students and researchers in different fields such asengineering and various health-related fields.

    To apply:
    Please send a CV, university transcripts and a short introduction letter outlining your researchexperience and career objectives to
    For a brief summary of some of our group’s research, please visit:

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