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Spinal cord injury and remote ischaemic conditioning: Improving physical capacity, health and wellbeing during inpatient rehabilitation SSEHS/CL

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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  Dr CA Leicht, Dr IM Taylor  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

People with spinal cord injury (SCI) undergoing rehabilitation present with unique challenges, including motor and vascular dysfunction, pronounced reduced physical capacity, fatigue and pain. This impacts on therapy participation, long-term health and quality of life. Remote ischaemic conditioning (RIC) is a non-invasive technique involving repeated arterial occlusion of the limb, resulting in cycles of local blood flow restriction and reperfusion. Recent evidence suggests that this method is safe to use in populations with a range of clinical conditions (e.g., multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes and stroke), and regular engagement may improve health and physical capacity outcomes. However, the use and usefulness of RIC in SCI remains unexplored.

Suggested mechanisms underpinning the effects of RIC include vascular shear stress as well as neuronal, inflammatory and trophic pathways. As such, the unique nature of SCI, including autonomic nervous dysfunction, high baseline levels of inflammation and physical immobility, requires specifically targeted studies prior to the clinical implementation of RIC in this population. The proposed project will explore the acceptability of RIC and its acute physiological effects in persons with SCI. It will further assess the long-term impacts of RIC in people undergoing SCI rehabilitation. The project is conducted in close collaboration with our clinical partners at the Princess Royal Spinal Cord Injuries Centre (PRSCIC) in Sheffield, with the majority of data being collected at their site. The successful applicant is hence going to spend a significant amount of time during their studies in a clinical environment at PRSCIC.

Loughborough University has an applied research culture. In REF 2021, 94% of the work submitted was judged to be top-rated as “world-leading” or “internationally excellent”. We are a community based on mutual support and collaboration. Through our Doctoral College there are continual opportunities for building important research skills and networks among your peers and research academics.

For informal enquiries about the project, please contact Christof Leicht.


Primary supervisor: Dr Christof Leicht

Secondary supervisor: Dr Ian Taylor

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Successful applicants will normally have an undergraduate honours degree with a minimum classification of a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject for the PhD topic (e.g., Sports Science, Physiology, or Human Biology). An MSc in one of these areas is highly desirable. Experience of physiological testing and/or working with clinical populations would also be advantageous. Applicants must have completed their studies in English or have an English Language qualification.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences. Please quote the advertised reference number: SSEHS/CL in your application.

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

See studentship assessment criteria.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
International fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.
The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £17,668 per annum (23/24 rates TBC) for the duration of the studentship plus university tuition fees.
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