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Accurate measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in adults with a spinal cord injury


Sport, Health and Exercise Science

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Dr D Bailey Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The proposed research will be conducted with an industry partner to develop a device for accurate measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in adults with a spinal cord injury who use a manual wheelchair (those with paraplegia). Over 50,000 people in the UK have suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and this condition significantly increases the risk of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death. This may be largely due to reduced physical activity levels. However, researchers are currently limited in suitable devices for measuring physical activity in this group so the association between physical activity levels and health risk is difficult to quantify accurately. Furthermore, the amount of time individuals spend engaging in sedentary behaviour (i.e. sitting with very low levels of energy expenditure) is associated with the aforementioned health risks. However, it is not clear how much time adults with a spinal cord injury spend being sedentary because of devices not being available to measure this.

This PhD project will address this gap in research by working with an industry partner to develop a research-grade device that permits valid and reliable measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in adults with a spinal cord injury who use a manual wheelchair. This will provide researchers with an essential tool for quantifying physical activity and sedentary levels in the general paraplegia spinal cord injury population. This device will also allow accurate monitoring of responses to interventions and healthcare strategies. The details of the proposal will be finalised with the PhD applicant. The project has the following aims:

1. To validate a wearable device for measurement of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in adults with a spinal cord injury who use a manual wheelchair.

2. To use the validated tool for conducting an assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviour levels in the general population of people with paraplegia.

This project would be well suited to students with a background in sport, health and exercise sciences, public health, healthcare, biomedical sciences, life sciences or related areas. A BSc degree is essential and an MSc is highly desirable.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)
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