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Analysis and Prevention of Spinal Injuries in Horse Racing

   Department for Health

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  Dr Dario Cazzola, Prof Keith Stokes  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project


The Analysis and Prevention of Spinal Injuries in Horse Racing is 3-year research programme in collaboration with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the British Racing School (BRS). The overall aim of this research is to analyse the mechanisms of spinal injury in horseracing, and use this key knowledge to inform the design of interventions to minimise spinal injury occurrence. Identifying injury mechanisms and understanding changes in risk in a range of scenarios will provide objective information to evaluate and optimise current falling technique strategy and inform the design of new protective garments. These aims will be achieved using a multidisciplinary approach that integrates video footage analysis, experimental testing, and computer simulations.

The objectives of the proposed project are:
• To categorise and quantitatively describe horseracing spinal injuries from the analysis of video footage from the Digital Archive of the BHA;
• To analyse the effect of protective garments on trunk and head movements, and their capability to prevent spinal injuries during experimentally simulated falls on the BRS horse simulator;
• To accurately measure and analyse fall technique and estimate the spinal internal load experienced by jockeys via computer simulations;
• To identify the injury mechanisms related to different falling conditions, and then highlight the safest falling technique and protective garment design via computer simulations;

The PhD studentship will be mainly focused on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of falls and injuries during racing events. Also, the PhD student will take part to the data collection on professional jockeys during staged falls on the BRS horse simulator, and collaborate in the biomechanics analysis of the data.

In addition to formal supervision from staff at the University of Bath, the student will also benefit from interaction with external supervision from Dr Jerry Hill, Chief Medical Advisor for the BHA (British Horseracing Authority).


Candidates with a background in human movement or injury prevention (Bachelor or Master degree in Sport & Exercise Science, Sport Medicine, Sport Physiotherapy, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or a related field) are encouraged to apply.

Highly desirable skills and experiences:
• research experience with human subjects;
• research experience in biomechanical data analysis;
• previous experience or enthusiasm to learn computer programming (i.e. Matlab, Visual 3D, OpenSim);
• Knowledge of human anatomy/physiology;
• Excellent written and oral communication skills;
• Strong analytical and problem solving-skills;
• Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team, be flexible and highly self-motivated;

Anticipated start date: February 2020

Funding Notes

Funded by the Racing Foundation, this studentship will cover Home/EU tuition fees, an annual stipend (£15,009 (19/20 rate) and a training support fee for a period of up to 3 years for full time study.


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