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The role of cognitive impairment in falls in walking aid users

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Walking aids have been designed to reduce falls-risk and enhance mobility: they improve walking speed and confidence, performance of clinical mobility tests and functional independence. However, their prescription alone does not eliminate risk of falling; indeed, somewhat paradoxically, their reported use has been associated with falls. Research is needed that aims to identify the causes of falls in walking aid users. This PhD will explore the role of cognitive impairment as one possible factor in relation to safe walking aid use.

To this end, the PhD aims to:

• Review and critically appraise the current state-of-the-art assessment methods that quantify mobility and cognitive impairment.
• Develop an improved, robust assessment protocol for characterizing mobility and cognitive impairment, at levels relevant to the physical and cognitive demands of walking aid usage.
• Describe and characterize groups of device users (walking sticks, walking frames, rollators) using the above assessment protocol.
• Combine activity monitoring with qualitative research to explore issues around device rejection and incorrect device usage, including adverse outcomes such as falls sustained.

1st or 2:1 in degree in psychology, biomedical engineering or human movement science.

Supervisory team:
Dr Sibylle Thies
Professor Laurence Kenney
Professor Dave Howard
Dr Adam Galpin

Please contact Dr Sibylle Thies before submitting an application.

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