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  Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation as a countermeasure to sarcopenia due to ageing and/or disease (REF: SSEHS/JF)

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr J Folland, Dr J Škarabot  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Sarcopenia is characterised by a loss of muscle strength, muscle mass, as well as low physical performance, and is now classified as a disease in its own right. Although often associated with ageing, it is also recognised as a complication of numerous other long term health conditions (e.g. chronic kidney disease) and is associated with worse clinical outcomes, including poor quality of life, higher hospitalisation rates and increased mortality. The annual cost of sarcopenia to the NHS has been estimated to be around £2.5 billion.

Exercise, and particularly resistance training, is known to be an effective treatment for sarcopenia increasing muscle strength due to a range of neural and muscular adaptations. However, some sarcopenic patients are unwilling or unable to engage in traditional resistance exercise, perhaps due to on-going symptoms. 

Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is a well-tolerated rehabilitation technique that evokes muscular contraction, mimicking exercise, which makes it an interesting alternative to resistance training for individuals who may struggle to perform voluntary exercise.

However, the optimisation, efficacy and adaptations underpinning NMES remains somewhat opaque. Specifically, recent NICE guidance [IPG677] has recommended further research being needed to understand the efficacy and physiological adaptations to NMES. The physiological adaptations could include improvements in function (strength and power), as well as changes in both muscle morphology and neural control/activation of the stimulated muscles. The state-of-the-art neuromuscular laboratories at Loughborough are able to utilise a range of contemporary neuromuscular techniques to examine these mechanisms.

This PhD project will address the neuromuscular adaptations to NMES as a countermeasure to sarcopenia. It could also include other comparator exercise interventions, cross-sectional studies of sarcopenia and research optimising NMES.

94% of Loughborough’s research impact is rated world-leading or internationally excellent. REF 2021


Entry requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in Sport & Exercise Science or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree will be an advantage e.g. Exercise Physiology, Musculoskeletal Science, Biomechanics etc., as is demonstrable experience/interest in neuromuscular research.

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select SSEHS. Please quote the advertised reference number: SSEHS/JF in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents, plus a CV.

The following selection criteria will be used by academic schools to help them make a decision on your application.

Apply now

Medicine (26) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18,622 per annum for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.

Where will I study?

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