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Brain sensorimotor plasticity after knee joint injury in recreational adult athletes

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, March 31, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

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

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.

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 (https://www1.essex.ac.uk/pgapply/login.aspx).

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.

Find out more about this studentship and information on how to apply on our website (https://www.essex.ac.uk/postgraduate-research-degrees/opportunities/Brain-sensorimotor-plasticity-after-knee-joint-injury).

Funding Notes

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 (£15,009 in 2019-20, stipend for 2020-21 tbc).

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