Two PhD Studentships. University of Salford, UK.

Tuition fees and tax free scholarship of £13,726 a year for three years.

Studentship 1: Understanding the impact of upper limb prosthesis socket design and fit on user performance, under real world conditions. Supervision team - Professor Laurence Kenney, Dr Sibylle Thies, Dr Adam Galipn and Dr John Head


Below-elbow myoelectric prostheses differ markedly from the anatomic hand in a number of ways, including the greatly limited controllable degrees of freedom, absence of proprioceptive feedback and uncertainty in the controller performance (1,2). One source of uncertainty in the controller performance may arise from the socket-limb interface (3). Recent studies, including work at the University of Salford, have shown that amputees tend to compensate for these limitations by a greater reliance on visual feedback (4,5). Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the challenges faced by users of such devices, reports suggest that prosthesis rejection rates remain high. In order to better understand the impact of socket design and fit on the performance of upper limb myoelectric prosthesis users, further work is needed.

The aims of this research are to:

- Develop novel approaches to the characterisation of the socket-residual limb interface.

- Develop tools to assess prosthesis user visuomotor behaviours in the presence of distractors.

- Carry out an evaluation study on the impact of prosthesis socket design and fit on visuomotor aspects of prosthesis performance under representative conditions.

1.Saunders I, Vijayakumar S. The role of feed-forward and feedback processes for closed-loop prosthesis control. J Neuroeng Rehabil 2011;8:60.

2.Bongers RM, Kyberd P, Bouwsema H, Kenney L, Plettenburg DH, Van der Sluis CK. Bernstein’s levels of construction of movements applied to upper limb prosthetics. J Pros Orth. 2012;24(2):67-76.

3.Head J. The effect of socket movement and electrode contact on myoelectric prosthesis control during daily living activities: PhD thesis, University of Salford; 2013.

4.Bouwsema H, Kyberd P, Van der Sluis CK, Bongers RM. Determining skill level in myoelectric prosthesis use with multiple outcome measures. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2012;49.

5.Sobuh MMD. Visuomotor behaviours during functional task performance with a myoelectric prosthesis: PhD thesis, University of Salford; 2012. (http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/29401).

Only UK/EU candidates are eligible to apply. Candidates should have a first or upper second class (or equivalent) honours degree in an area relevant to the proposed research. Areas include Prosthetics and Orthotics, Human Movement Science, Psychology and Mechanical/(Bio)Medical Engineering. Experience of prosthetics would be preferred, but is not essential. A Masters’ degree or equivalent qualification, or other evidence of research skills and experience, is preferred but also not essential.

This studentship is offered under the Graduate Teaching Studentship scheme at the University of Salford (http://www.salford.ac.uk/study/postg...ealth-sciences). Graduate Teaching Students work with academic staff in a range of teaching, learning and assessment activities to support undergraduate student learning up to 180 hours each academic year (6 hours per week). These activities can include supporting lectures, leading seminars, providing tutorial support, demonstrating in practical classes, marking student assessments and exam invigilation. GTS students must undertake the mandatory core module of the PGCAP teaching qualification which supports the studentship.Teaching areas will depend on the background of the successful candidate.

For informal queries please e-mail l.p.j.kenney@salford.ac.uk.

Deadline 31st March 2014. If you are applying please let me know so that I can ensure we track your application.

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Studentship 2: Development of assessment methodologies for identification of unstable walking aid use. Supervision team - Dr Sibylle Thies, Professor Laurence Kenney and Professor Dave Howard


Walking aids are used by 29-49% of older people. However, although designed to provide stability, they do not eliminate falls-risk: indeed they are a risk factor themselves for falls and have been linked to fall-related injuries. This apparent contradiction may stem from the fact that no uniform guidelines/procedures exist to assist in their prescription, user training and monitoring. Hence, inappropriate device selection and incorrect use may limit their usefulness. It is our objective to improve fall prevention in walking aid users through methodological developments that will impact on falls services and walking aid manufacturers. Specifically, we aim to

1. Challenge the merit of existing stability measures, designed for unassisted walking, in the context of mobility aid use.

2. Develop novel measures reflective of stable interaction between body and mobility aid.

3. Develop clinically useful assessment tools.

To date. progress towards our aims has been made through three studentships and one grant (Peel Trust), resulting in one publication (Grootveld et al. Automatic detection of lift-off and touch-down of a pick-up walker using 3D kinematics. Med Eng Phys 2014; 36: 255-260) and a further manuscript in progress. The ideal candidate should have a solid background in biomechanics of human movement/gait analysis, either through previous study in human movement sciences, sports science, or biomedical engineering. Candidates from other engineering backgrounds may also apply but must demonstrate some experience relevant to movement science/biomechanics. You will be placed within the School of Health Sciences, one of the country’s leading research centres in the Allied Health field; over 20 academic staff and 30 post graduate research students work in the 3 dedicated biomechanics & human performance laboratories and world class clinical facilities on site. In collaboration with the School of Computing, Science and Engineering we provide a platform for high quality biomechanics research that focuses on clinical movement analysis.

This studentship is offered under the Pathway to Excellence scheme at the University of Salford (http://www.salford.ac.uk/study/postg...e-studentships).

For informal queries please e-mail S.Thies@salford.ac.uk

Deadline 31st March 2014. If you are applying please let me know so that I can ensure we track your application.

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