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PhD Studentship in Stroke Rehabilitation: The Effects of Mental Practice on Upper-limb Recovery after Stroke

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: 100% of home tuition fees paid and an annual stipend (living expenses) of £18,622. Also a significant Research Training and Support Grant.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 1st February 2024
Closes: 23rd February 2024
Reference: PH039

Award Summary

100% of home tuition fees paid and an annual stipend (living expenses) of £18,622. Also a significant Research Training and Support Grant.  

Overview

Upper-limb impairment is often a barrier to regaining independence after a stroke. While routine physiotherapy is typically below recommended doses for promoting recovery, mental practice offers an attractive, low-cost adjunct. Action observation (AO) involves watching and imitating human movement, while motor imagery (MI) involves mentally rehearsing an action without physically moving. Research (mainly in healthy adults) shows that combining AO and MI into a single protocol (AO+MI) can increase cortico-motor activity and enhance movement outcomes, compared to either AO or MI (Eaves et al., 2022). However, the lack of clinical studies has led to uncertainty about what the optimal AO+MI intervention should be after stroke.  

You will investigate combined AO+MI effects in healthy volunteers and stroke survivors, manipulating dose (high vs. low intensity) and modality (standard 2D display vs. 3D virtual reality). You will assess arm function using kinematics, grip and pinch dynamometers, and clinical assessments. 

This project is suited to applicants with a background in sports science, psychology, clinical therapy and biomedical engineering.  

Number Of Awards: 1

Start Date: April 2024 

Award Duration: The funding covers a 3-year PhD 

Application Closing Date: 23 February 2024 

Sponsor: Newcastle University, Faculty of Medical Sciences 

Supervisors

Dr Daniel Eaves, School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences (BNS) 

Dr Iain Spears (BNS) 

Dr Lisa Shaw, Stroke Research Group, Population Health Sciences Institute (PHSI) 

Professor Chris Price, Stroke Research Group, PHSI  

Eligibility Criteria

An honours degree (minimum 2:1) plus an MSc/MRes in a relevant subject, including: sport science, psychology, clinical therapy, biomedical engineering. 

This award is open to home applicants only.  

How To Apply

You must register and apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

Once registered select ‘Create Application’ then ‘Postgraduate’ 

Fill in your personal information and click on ‘Save & Next’ 

Use ‘Search Course’ to identify your programme of study: 

  • Select 2023 as the Year of Entry for an April 2024 start 
  • Type of Study: Select ‘Postgraduate Research’ 
  • Mode of Study: ‘Full Time’ 
  • Year of Study: Select ‘2023’ 
  • Course Title / Course Code: Select ‘8853F’ 
  • Research Area: Leave Blank 
  • Click Search and select ‘PhD in Biomedical, Nutrition and Sport Sciences (PHSI) (Full Time)’ 

You will then need to provide the following information in the ‘Further Details’ section: 

  • A ‘Personal Statement’ (mandatory) - upload or write directly in the application form 
  • The studentship code PH039 in the ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’ field 
  • When prompted for how you are providing your research proposal - select ‘Write Proposal’. You should then type in the title of the research project from this advert - you do not need to upload a research proposal. 

In addition, before you submit your application you will need to upload the following supporting documentation: 

  • Covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code PH039 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project (750 words max.) 
  • Degree transcripts and certificated.  
  • If English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification, if already completed.

Contact Details: Daniel.eaves@newcastle.ac.uk 

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