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Personalised rehabilitation for musculoskeletal and spinal pain

Project Description

Our PhD students are an active part of our Centre of Precision Rehabilitation for Spinal Pain (CPR Spine)

CPR Spine was established at the University of Birmingham in 2016 following a ~£1M investment awarded to Professor Falla and Dr Rushton. The aim of the Centre is to identify personalised management approaches for spinal pain taking into consideration the multidimensional nature of spinal pain.

CPR Spine includes a research facility with state of the art facilities including systems for human movement analysis, quantitative sensory testing, electromyography, elastography, ultrasonography and electroencephalography.

The assessment and management of spinal pain disorders are an international challenge and come at great individual and societal costs. Appropriate identification of patient-specific interventions are a major priority and comprehensive assessments, taking into consideration the multidimensional nature of spinal pain, are warranted to inform safe and precise rehabilitation.

CPR Spine utilises cutting edge technology and multidisciplinary expertise to collectively advance the assessment of patients with spinal pain through the development of new assessment tools, and by establishing valid and reliable clinical testing protocols and evidence informed decision making frameworks, to inform safe and efficacious interventions.

Effective precision rehabilitation enables improved effectiveness (clinical and cost) as it identifies which patients to target with rehabilitation, when and how to target them; and therefore enables more effective use of rehabilitation resources.

We are developing and validating new assessment protocols which offer new opportunities to objectively characterise the presentation of patients presenting with musculoskeletal and spinal pain. As a result this enables appropriate identification of patient-specific safe targeted interventions. Effective targeted rehabilitation can enable improved effectiveness (clinical and cost) as it identifies which patients to target with specific rehabilitation approaches, and therefore enables more effective use of rehabilitation resources. The process of developing effective targeted rehabilitation is lengthy and requires several stages to ensure rigour and applicability to practice.

We are one of the leading research departments in the country, as reflected by our outstanding performance in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework exercise. With 90 percent of its research classified as world leading or internationally excellent our School is ranked in the top three for research in the sector.

The School in based in the largest custom-built Sport and Exercise facility in the UK, with state of the art research labs dedicated to exercise testing and sample analysis across the spectrum of sport, exercise and rehabilitation sciences including: physiology, biochemistry, psychophysiology, biomechanics, sport psychology, motor skills, immunology, muscle mechanics and the neurophysiology of movement.

The PhD Programme

Research is an essential component of the School’s activity. Because of this, we believe that it is very important to invest in excellence in postgraduate training and research infrastructure, and to maintain an intellectually stimulating environment that supports high quality research. We have a vibrant postgraduate community, with over 50 doctoral researchers currently registered. We provide a supportive environment, with plenty of opportunities for you to meet fellow researchers, both socially and to discuss and present your work.

The School accords a high priority to the development of a thriving postgraduate research culture. We are keen to attract the next generation of spinal pain scholars and to encourage innovative research.


An experienced team of researchers in spinal pain, musculoskeletal pain and musculoskeletal physiotherapy:

Dr Alison Rushton

Professor Deborah Falla

Dr Nicola Heneghan.

Entry requirements

Information on Entry Requirements can be found at

How to Apply

Prospective students are advised to contact the Postgraduate Office for guidance before making a formal application. Formal applications should be made using the University of Birmingham Online Application Service. For information on how to apply online, please see:

Funding Notes

No funding currently available.
Self-funding students only.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 34.40

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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