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PhD Studentship - Development of a User-Friending Scanning System to Enhance Orthopaedic Clinical Analysis

Aston University

Qualification Type: PhD
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £14,777
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 10th July 2018
Closes: 6th October 2018
Reference: R180314

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to be undertaken within the Biomedical Engineering Research Group at Aston University. The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on orthopaedic devices in collaboration with NHS clinicians in orthopaedic surgery.


The aim of this project is to develop a 3D scanning system for use in clinical orthopaedic settings in order to evaluate and demonstrate changes in the shape of a patient’s torso over time and following treatment. The hypothesis is that this will allow better patient understanding and visualisation of individual conditions, as well as an enhanced analysis tool for clinicians.

The objectives for this PhD would be centred on the design, build and analysis of a system which could be used by clinicians and patients to provide information and images to show time matched changes to a patient’s anterior torso shape.

Specific objectives will include the following:

  • Creation of a user requirement and product design specification
  • A literature review and prior art search
  • Ethical impact plan and ethics applications (NHS and Aston)
  • Identification of suitable sensors and data analysis software
  • Design and build of prototype system (with subsequent iterations)
  • Creation of user interface both for environment and software
  • Assessment of the range of shapes and sizes seen in the normal population
  • Assessment of how scoliosis and scoliosis surgery changes the shape of the anterior torso
  • Analysis of the patient response to images

The scientific importance will be realised in the development of the technology and its ability to generate data sets for detailed analysis. The research will establish a method for scanning the anterior torso, which does not expose the patient to radiation. The research will also identify key data points that can be used to study the effects of surgery on the shape of the anterior torso. This will provide a basis to compare different treatments and demonstrate the utility of the method. The method developed for the anterior torso would provide a foundation for the development of similar methods for other types of skeletal surgery.

The external impact will initially be in the field of healthcare and more specifically in the treatment of young patients with scoliosis. It is also expected that there may well be applications outside the anterior torso deformity seen in the AIS population, in the spheres of thoracic surgery (dealing with sternal pectus deformities) and plastic surgery.

The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics or a related area. Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of experimental measurement and data analysis.

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the home/EU fees rate plus a maintenance allowance of £14,777. Applicants from outside the EU may apply for this studentship and will need to pay the difference between the ‘Home/EU’ and the ‘Overseas’ tuition fees, currently this is £12,290.

For informal enquiries about this project contact Greg Swadener or Laura Leslie by email at or

To submit an application and for details of the entry requirement and funding please visit the Aston University website here.

Closing Date: 23.59 hours BST on Saturday 06 October 2018

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