Different pathologies such as osteoarthritis (OA) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture have been shown to alter knee kinematics during gait; this implies that gait analysis may be used to distinguish between different pathologies, measure their progression and evaluate the value of different treatments. Traditional approaches to assessing gait function require that patients make several visits to the clinic, which is expensive and time-consuming for patients, clinicians and the health care system. Ideally, clinicians will be able to gather reliable kinematic data when patients are at home or in the community. While the advent of inexpensive wearable technology such as wireless inertial measurement units (IMUs) could make a remote assessment of gait function and remote delivery of treatment a possibility, such capabilities have not yet become a reality.
The PhD project will build upon the past work of our group in IMU-driven biomechanics modelling, with the ultimate goal to develop an IMU-based clinical tool to assess gait for patients with pathological knee (OA or ACL rupture). Employing core equipment in the Bio-Medical Engineering Research Lab including the camera-based motion capture system and wireless IMU/electromyography sensors, alongside advanced in-house musculoskeletal modelling technology, the proposed project will push the boundaries of exciting technology to achieve: 1) a reliable measurement of knee kinematics by attaching IMU sensors with minimal technical efforts and training; 2) automatic calibration of patient-specific kinematics models to measure functional alignment and kinematics, supporting clinical decision making. Our novel approach has great potential to assist digital clinical consultancy and free up pressure on the healthcare system.
The applicant must have an excellent undergraduate degree (1st class honours degree) in Mechanical, Electrical or Biomedical Engineering. Ideally, they would have practical experience in computational programming (e.g., MATLAB, C++ or Python). Interest in biomechanics/wearable technology is desirable. The applicant should be willing to acquire new skills, training will be provided in the measurement of human movement (e.g., motion capture and force platform); use of wearable technology for physical activity monitoring and biomechanics modelling.
The University of Birmingham is a QS Top 100 University that is uniquely positioned to benefit any applicant interested in a future career in healthcare technology. The University emphasises the clinical translation of innovative research to ensure real-world impact through the Healthcare Technologies Institute and the Precision Healthcare Technology Accelerator. The School of Engineering also has an established Biomedical Engineering research group with links to several SME and multinational medical device companies.
Informal enquiries are encouraged and should be addressed to Dr Ziyun Ding at the School of Engineering ([Email Address Removed])