Technological Visual Assessment and Rehabilitation in Parkinson’s disease: Impact on Balance and Falls (Ref: RDFC19/HLS/SER/STUART)

Northumbria University | Faculty of Health and Life Sciences |Newcastle |United Kingdom

Project Description

Visual impairment is common in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and deficits impact mobility, balance and ultimately increase falls risk. Visual deficits occur across a broad spectrum from decline in basic visual function and oculomotor control, to more complex visual hallucinations, which are not restored with pharmaceutical interventions. Furthermore, these symptoms limit independence and reduce quality of life. Indeed previous work has shown that >80% of those with PD had fallen within a 1-year timeframe were visually impaired, compared to 66% of non-fallers. Despite this, visual impairment is often overlooked in clinical practice, which may stem from the multitude of time-consuming assessments required to evaluate deficits. Timely recognition of visual disorders and implementation of tailored progressive interventions is essential to enhance mobility, balance and prevent falls in PD.
Recent technological advancements have allowed visual assessment and rehabilitation with a single device. Specifically, touch-screen based devices (e.g. Senaptec Sensory Station or Tablet) that can provide progressive visual rehabilitation ( Building on our previous work, this project will examine technological visual assessment and rehabilitation using touch-screen and eye-tracking methodologies. Gait and balance metrics will also be examined using validated algorithms and devices to determine efficacy of rehabilitation.
This PhD aims to investigate the impact of technological visual assessment and rehabilitation on visual function and balance in PD.
The supervisors, Dr Samuel Stuart, Dr Rosie Morris and Dr Gillian Barry, are experienced clinical researchers and provide a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in sensory, cognitive and motor function. Applicants interested in pursuing this project would ideally have a clinical background in Physiotherapy or a related subject area. In addition, experience in recruiting and data management would be beneficial. During this PhD studentship, participants will be recruited from the NHS, therefore the student will require DBS clearance. Registration with a clinical professional body (e.g. HCPC) is desirable.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC19/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 27th March 2020
Interviews: Mid April 2020
Start Date: 1st July 2020
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr Samuel Stuart (

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home and EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full Home/ EU Fees.
Further funds are available for consumables associated with the project.


• Stuart, S., Parrington, L., Martini, D., Popa, B., Fino, P. and King, L. (2019) ‘Validation of a velocity-based algorithm to quantify saccades during walking and turning in mild traumatic brain injury and healthy controls’, Physiological Measurement.
• Morris, R., Stuart S., McBarron, G., Fino, P., Mancini, M. and Curtze, C. (2019) ‘ Validation of MobilityLab (version 2) for gait assessment in young adults, older adults and Parkinson’s disease’, Physiological Measurement.
• Stuart, S., Lord, S., Galna, B. and Rochester, L. (2018) ‘Saccade frequency response to visual cues during gait in Parkinson’s disease: the selective role of attention’ European Journal of Neuroscience.
• Morris, R., Lord, S., Lawson, R.A., Coleman, S., Galna, B., Duncan, G.W., Khoo, T.K., Yarnall, A.J., Burn, D.J., Rochester, L. (2017), ‘Gait rather than cognition predicts decline in specific cognitive domains in early Parkinson’s disease’, Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 72 (12): 1656-1662
• Stuart, S., Galna, B., Delicato, L.S., Lord, S. and Rochester, L. (2017) ‘Direct and indirect effects of attention and vision on gait impairment in Parkinson’s disease’, European Journal of Neuroscience, 46(1): 1703-1716.
• Stuart, S., Lord, S., Hill, E., and Rochester, L. (2016) ‘Gait in Parkinson’s disease: a visuo-cognitive challenge’, Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, 62, 76-88.
• Stuart, S., Alcock, L., Godfrey, A., Lord, S., Rochester, L., and Galna, B. (2016) ‘Accuracy and re-test relaibaility of mobile eye-tracking in Parkinson’s disease and older adults’, Medical Engineering and Physics, 38 (3), 308-315.
• Tahmosybayat R, Baker K, Godfrey A, Caplan N, Barry G. (2017). A systematic review and meta-analysis of outcome measures to assess postural control in older adults who undertake exergaming. Maturitas 98:35-45.
• Barry G, Galna B, Lord S, Rochester L and Godfrey A. (2015) Defining ambulatory bouts in free-living activity: Impact of brief stationary periods on bout metrics. Gait and Posture 42(4):594-7.