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PhD in Clinical Kinaesiology (Rehabilitation) (PhD Studentship)

Reference Number: R2568
Closing Date: Closed for applications
Duration: 3 years (full-time)
Funding Amount: full UK/EU fees, plus Stipend
Level of Study: Postgraduate Research
Regions: EU (Non UK), International (Non EU), UK
This funding opportunity is now closed for application

graduation day for Advanced Practice

This PhD is funded by Cardiff University, School of Healthcare Sciences and will be supervised by Prof Robert van Deursen. This study is carried out in collaboration with the research group led by Dr Ilse Jonkers, University of Leuven within the context of the Partnership between Cardiff University and University of Leuven. Dr Ilse Jonkers is also co-supervisor for this project.

The project primarily takes place at the Research Centre for Clinical Kinaesiology, Cardiff which is a well-equipped movement laboratory; with good clinical links to a number of hospitals in the vicinity and clinical researchers in the area of rehabilitation. Part of the time the student will be working at the University of Leuven to develop the musculoskeletal modelling skills required for completion of the project.

Project title: The implications of movement adaptations in knee patients for joint control and loading

Research Question:
Can we understand in detail the movement strategies used by non-coper ACL patients after ACL reconstruction during a set of tasks in terms of the effect on joint stability and joint contact loading?

Patients with ACL injury classed as non-copers, frequently undergo surgery to improve their recovery. However, on average they do not return to healthy levels of performance of functional movement such as walking and squatting. This has been explored in a clinical study and it is clear from these results that a large number of patients measured over 15 months struggle with their functional recovery following ACL reconstruction and standard rehabilitation. Patients following an ACL injury have a much higher risk of developing osteoarthritis and therefore a good understanding of this altered movement is required to be able to design appropriate therapy to help prevent or delay chronic conditions. We would therefore like to use this same patient group and explore the nature of their movement problems in more detail in the research lab environment. Besides a full biomechanical and electromyography analysis on the GRAIL system for gait, squatting and jogging, we will test proprioception and muscle function to develop insight into joint control. The same data from our movement analysis will provide the basis for an analysis of joint contact forces using musculoskeletal modelling developed at the University of Leuven.

The study builds on a strong track record of research investigating problems patients have with their recovery from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury. The study will make use of a cohort of patients that have been measured in the clinical setting before and after their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction surgery. As part of their long term follow up this study will investigate the persistent problems that this group has with functional movement and how this might develop into a chronic condition; particularly osteoarthritis.

The aims of the study are:

  • To develop the theory of dynamic joint stability and joint contact loading related to knee joint instability and subsequently the development of osteoarthritis.
  • To categorise patients based on their strategy of movement and the impact on dynamic stability and joint contact loading.
  • To identify the safety envelope of movement performance where movement adaptations can be used by patients without detriment to their joint health.

Research Plan:
Observational study using an existing cohort of 74 ACLR patients. The aim is to recruit 50 patients for comparison to 50 healthy controls.


Cardiff University:

  • Movement analysis using the GRAIL system together with electromyography; isokinetic dynamometry; and proprioception testing.
  • Additional measurements include clinical measures and scores by means of validated questionnaires: such as Fear of movement/re-injury; OA: clinical symptoms; Activity/participation measures.
  • Additional measures may be considered based on preparations with the PhD student and the research team.

University of Leuven:

MSK modelling based on movement analysis and EMG: strategy analysis with determination of contact forces.

Statistical analysis:

  • Profiling of patient subgroups using principal component analysis and correlations
  • Regression analysis to identify determining factors related to joint stability and contact forces
  • Hypothesis testing: comparing the patient and control group on key parameters

Supervisors: Prof Robert van Deursen & Dr Ilse Jonkers

Start date: 1 October 2015

Number of Studentships: 1


This studentship consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£14,057 p.a. for 2015/16, updated each year).

One studentship is available.

Additional funding of the value £500 for running costs such as travel expenses is available.


Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students without further restrictions.

Academic criteria:


  • BSc 2:1 or 1st or equivalent in relevant area (Physiotherapy; Sports/Exercise Science/Movement Science).
  • Experience in rehabilitation research and movement analysis; computer programming for biomechanical analysis and musculoskeletal modelling.


  • MSc in movement science/clinical biomechanics/movement analysis

How to Apply

In the first instance, you should submit a CV & Covering Letter to The successful candidate will then be invited to submit a standard application for Postgraduate Study via the Online Application Service.

The deadline for applications is 7 August 2015 at 9am

Interviews are likely to take place during mid August 2015.

Cardiff University reserves the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

Further Information

For further information please contact Prof Robert van Deursen on or by phone +44 (0)29 2068 7687