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Investigating treatment, response, return to play protocols, and outcomes of head injury in youth contact sport in Scotland.

   School of Health and Social Care

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  Dr Michael Leavitt  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Head injuries received playing contact sports and the consequences of these are an increasingly recognized problem. Our national conversation around head injury in sport is heavily focused on professional athletics and the various mitigation strategies employed by sport governing bodies and medical teams are focused at elite performers. By contrast, management of head injury resulting from contact sport at the youth level is poorly defined, recorded and reported. Outside of major trauma requiring hospital admission, injury management is essentially left to players, parents, and coaches. This results in potentially dangerous variation in management depending on coach education, level of medical input, parent/athlete opinion and the cultural norms of the individual sports. Critically, this variation is not well understood. Although generic guidelines exist, these tend to simply state recommended time out of play. It is vitally important to understand management, adherence, and outcomes of head trauma that does not require immediate hospital admission. Ultimately, this project aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the current status of head injury management from both a medical and societal perspective and consider potential actions to increase the health and wellbeing of youth athletes who participate in contact sport. 


Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in a health or social care discipline with a good fundamental knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods..


English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.


Essential attributes:

·        Experience of fundamental qualitative and quantitative research methods, data capture, collation, and processing.

·        Competent in interpersonal communication, public speaking, and networking

·        Knowledge of neurotrauma, brain injury, and/or contact sporting injuries from a medical or rehabilitative perspective

·        Good written and oral communication skills

·        Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project

·        Good time management

Desirable attributes:

-Knowledge and/or experience of working with individuals with head injuries/concussion

-MSc in research methods or similar postgraduate qualification or health related field

-Experience of using qualitative research methods such as interviews or focus groups

-Experience of using quantitative and/or qualitative data analysis software such as NVivo and/or SPSS

To apply, please click on the ‘Institution Website’ link on the right-hand side of this page

When applying, please quote the application reference SHSC0038 on your form.


·        Completed application form 

·        CV

·        2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)

·        A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of

·   Brief proposal (2 pages maximum) with the following headings: Background, Research Questions, Method and anticipated Outcomes of the project

·        What you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)

·        Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)


Funding Notes

These studentships are also offered on a part-time basis. Part time UK students will be funded pro-rata


1. Turner R, Lucas J, Margolis L, Corwell B. A preliminary study of youth sport concussions: Parents’ health literacy and knowledge of return-to-play protocol criteria. Brain Injury. 2017;31(8):1124-1130.
2. Williamson I. Converging evidence for the under-reporting of concussions in youth ice hockey * Commentary. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2006;40(2):128-132.
3. Anzalone A, Blueitt D, Case T, McGuffin T, Pollard K, Garrison J et al. A Positive Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) Is Associated With Increased Recovery Time After Sports-Related Concussion in Youth and Adolescent Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;45(2):474-479.
4. Corwin D, Wiebe D, Zonfrillo M, Grady M, Robinson R, Goodman A et al. Vestibular Deficits following Youth Concussion. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2015;166(5):1221-1225.
5. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, Aubry M, Bailes J, Broglio S et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport—the 5thinternational conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017;:bjsports-2017-097699.
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