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Developing a clinical tool to quantitatively assess and monitor upper limb and shoulder function in clinical and home settings

Upper limb and shoulder disorders are poorly defined, diagnosed and rehabilitated. Current management of these disorders is focussed on the prescription of physiotherapeutic treatments, yet the efficacy of such treatments is not well established and the prognosis of patients with shoulder disorders is very poor. It is difficult to assess the movement of the shoulder due to the thick layer of soft-tissue covering the bones. These difficulties are reflected in current clinical management of shoulder disorders. Current practice involves the use of a combination of physiotherapy exercises and techniques based on the clinician’s assessment of individual patients, as a result, there is a huge variation between clinicians and clinical centres in the chosen physiotherapy treatments, their intensity and duration. There is an urgent need to address current issues with physiotherapy management of shoulder disorders.

The research project builds on knowledge gained in recent biomechanical studies that have identified key parameters in movement quality related to deficiency in upper limb function. These measures are currently obtained using state-of-the-art measurement devices commonly used for research purposes but are unsuitable for clinical assessments.  The objective of this phase is to develop alternative low-cost tools that enable the quantification of these parameters in clinical and home settings. 

The aim of the project is to develop a clinical tool for objective assessment of upper limb and shoulder movement quality and function. The tool should be suitable for obtaining such measures in clinical environments and in home settings, thus allowing its utilisation by clinicians and patients to monitor and assess patient rehabilitation.

Applicants interested in pursuing this project would ideally have backgrounds in biomechanics, sports science, engineering, physics or any other related subject.


How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.