University of Sheffield Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
University of Hull Featured PhD Programmes

Biomechanical modelling of tendon transfers in the upper limb

   School of Engineering

About the Project

Traumatic injuries to the hand and arm can result in serious loss of function for individuals, leading to an inability to carry out the activities of daily living, and a loss of independence. Tendon transfers are often used by orthopaedic surgeons to treat injuries to the upper limb, restoring lost function. The outcomes of surgery however, are highly dependent on the biomechanics of the post-surgical limb, both in terms of musculo-tendon properties of the newly attached tendon, but also considering any function lost at the donor site, and the residual function in the surrounding structures of the limb.

Previous research on the biomechanics of tendon transfer in hand surgery has made extensive use of cadaveric models. While these can give insight into key parameters that affect the outcomes of surgery (e.g. Alewijnse et al., 2019), they fail to capture the dynamic nature of muscle forces that drive hand function. A computational, biomechanical model of hand and arm dynamics, representing specific patient deficits, provides a remarkably versatile tool for exploring surgical options. We therefore use computer modelling of the musculoskeletal system to understand the fine interplay of forces between structures, and their effect on limb dynamics and interaction with the environment (Bolsterlee et al. 2013).

In this project, you will conduct simulations using such models to explore the effects of tendon transfers on functional outcomes in the upper limb. The aims of the project are to identify the most important factors for determining surgical outcome, and to further develop the models to allow patients to interact with the biomechanics of the post-surgical limb in a virtual reality scenario.
As a team, we have many years of experience in biomechanics and computer modelling of the upper limb, with more than 40 peer-reviewed publications in related areas ( Our models have been applied to clinically important problems such as the restoration of arm function in spinal cord injury (Chadwick et al., 2011), estimation of internal loading for prosthesis design, and analysis of upper limb function in manual wheelchair users.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Mechanical or Biomedical Engineering, Human Movement Science or related area.

Applicants must have a Interest in medical technology, human movement science or orthopaedics and rehabilitation. Experience of independent project work as well as working in a team along with knowledge of Mathematical modelling, computer programming (Matlab or Python).


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering
• State name of the lead supervisor as the Name of Proposed Supervisor
• State ‘Self-funded’ as Intended Source of Funding
• State the exact project title on the application form

When applying please ensure all required documents are attached:

• All degree certificates and transcripts (Undergraduate AND Postgraduate MSc-officially translated into English where necessary)
• Detailed CV

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr Ed Chadwick (), with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ()

It is possible to undertake this project by distance learning. Interested parties should contact Dr Chadwick to discuss this. Distance Learning Applicants should have access to a good quality computer suitable for running Matlab. For guidelines on system requirements, see

Funding Notes

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of the discipline of Biomedical Engineering. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for Tuition fees, living expenses and maintenance. Details of the cost of study can be found by visiting View Website. THERE IS NO FUNDING ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT


Alewijnse, Juul V., Mick Kreulen, Jan van Loon, and Mark J. C. Smeulders. 2019. ‘Extensor Pollicis Longus Rerouting for Thumb-in-Palm Deformity in Cerebral Palsy: A Biomechanical Analysis’. The Journal of Hand Surgery, European Volume 44 (8): 785–89.

Bolsterlee, Bart, DirkJan H. E. J. Veeger, and Edward K. Chadwick. 2013. ‘Clinical Applications of Musculoskeletal Modelling for the Shoulder and Upper Limb’. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing 51 (9): 953–63.

Chadwick, E K, D Blana, J D Simeral, J Lambrecht, S P Kim, A S Cornwell, D M Taylor, L R Hochberg, J P Donoghue, and R F Kirsch. 2011. ‘Continuous Neuronal Ensemble Control of Simulated Arm Reaching by a Human with Tetraplegia’. Journal of Neural Engineering 8 (3): 034003.

Email Now

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.