Postgraduate Research Opportunities

Brain sensorimotor plasticity after knee joint injury in recreational adult athletes

Details

Title: SCH37: Brain sensorimotor plasticity after knee joint injury in recreational adult athletes: Developing brain-focused interventions for enhancing rehabilitation effectiveness and wellness across the lifespan

Funding: A full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students  (£5,103 in 2020-21) (further fee details - international students will need to pay the balance of their fees) plus a doctoral stipend equivalent to the RCUK Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21).

Application deadline: Tuesday 31 March 2020

Start date: October 2020

Duration: 3 years (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus

Based in: School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences (in collaboration with Department of Psychology)

Overview

Knee soft tissue injury is common in recreational adult athletes.

Knee soft tissue injury results in impairments (e.g. muscle weakness), activity limitations (e.g. slow walking), participation restrictions (e.g. disrupted studies/work), and psychoemotional distress (e.g. depression). Knee soft tissue injury can also result in drop-out/retirement from sports, knee re-injury, contralateral knee injury, post-trauma osteoarthritis, and morbidity. Therefore, knee soft tissue injury represents a considerable burden on recreational adult athletes’ overall health and wellness as well as local healthcare systems’ resources.

Knee soft tissue injury destroys proprioceptors, alters brain sensory and motor functions and affects muscle activation patterns, joint stability, and rehabilitation outcomes. Traditional rehabilitation addresses the ‘periphery’ (e.g. range-of-motion, muscle hypertrophy) but frequently neglects interventions that exploit the brain’s plasticity and its ability to undergo clinically beneficial adaptation.

Although researchers have investigated sensory and motor cortex functions after knee soft tissue injury, no group has studied the sensory and motor cortices in the same sample of athletes.

Consequently, knowledge of brain plasticity after knee soft tissue injury is incomplete. Furthermore, effective brain-focused interventions need to be developed in an effort to induce beneficial cortical adaptations that enhance rehabilitation outcomes.

The project

Project aims

  1. to employ electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to characterise sensory and motor cortex changes in recreational adult athletes with knee soft tissue injury.
  2. to develop novel clinical interventions that beneficially affect the sensory and motor cortices.

Significant outcomes

  1. gain new understanding of how knee soft tissue injury affects the sensory and motor cortices.
  2. impact wider clinical practice via new recommendations for brain-focused interventions.

Funding

The award consists of a full Home/EU fee waiver or equivalent fee discount for overseas students (further fee details), a doctoral stipend equivalent to the Research Councils UK National Minimum Doctoral Stipend (£15,285 in 2020-21), plus £2,500 training bursary via Proficio funding, which may be used to cover the cost of advanced skills training including conference attendance and travel.

Criteria

  • MSc degree (post-registration) in a clinical subject (e.g. physiotherapy, sports therapy, sports rehabilitation).
  • Post-registration clinical experience.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online.

Please include your CV, covering letter, personal statement, and transcripts of UG and Masters degrees in your application.

The University has moved to requiring only one reference for PhD applications and these can be received after a conditional offer has been made so the absence of these will not hold up the recruitment process.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please put "PhD Sport and Exercise Medicine"
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship (SCH37: Brain sensorimotor plasticity after knee joint injury in recreational adult athletes: Developing brain-focused interventions for enhancing rehabilitation effectiveness and wellness across the lifespan)
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the lead supervisor (Dr Nicholas Clark)

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email the lead supervisor,Dr Nicholas Clark (n.clark@essex.ac.uk).

You can find the terms and conditions of this studentship here (PDF).

Student and academic working at a board together
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