Summary

For lower limb amputees, use of a lower limb prosthesis can achieve acceptable mobility, maintain employment and improve quality of life. However, regular use of a weight-bearing prosthesis is associated with a high incidence of skin inflammation in the residual limb, leading to potential ulceration, infection and cessation of use. Amputees with diabetes have a particular increased risk, complicated by the loss of pain sensation and impaired immune response. Within the socket of the prosthesis, increased temperature, rising levels of moisture, interface pressure and shear stress are associated with an increased incidence of skin breakdown. Measurement of any of these factors could potentially be used as an early-warning sign of impending tissue damage.

A local increase in tissue temperature of 2°C has been identified as predictive of impending skin breakdown in the foot. Within the socket of the lower limb prosthesis, identification of such a temperature rise, if communicated in an appropriate fashion, can alert the amputee, and trigger intervention in a timely manner to prevent progression to skin damage.

This study proposes to build a sensor capsule into the standard Pelite liner used within the prosthetic socket. The sensor will continuously measure temperature, humidity and movement within the socket. This information is communicated to a mobile phone app held by the amputee (or carer). Further communication will be to an anonomised cloud-based platform for data analysis, and further reflected back to a ‘dashboard’ report for the relevant clinical team based within the regional limb-fitting service. The sensor, bluetooth communication system, mobile phone app and cloud analytics have been developed by a team led by Bioflex Ltd, with support from Innovate UK and InvestNI funding.

The initial purpose of the proposed study is to determine the functionality of the sensor capsule in normal prosthetic use, and to test the reliability of the communication systems to app and cloud. In addition, the study will engage amputees in a qualitative evaluation of the system’s current useability / acceptability on a day-to-day basis and how correlation of clinical events with system use.

Aim: To assess the use of a lower limb monitoring system for prosthetic use following amputation.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding and eligibility

Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

  • The scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide a maintenance allowance of £15,609 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). The scholarship also provides £900 per annum as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,750 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

Department for the Economy (DFE)

  • The scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide a maintenance allowance of £15,609 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). The scholarship also provides £900 per annum as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation.
  • To be eligible for the full scholarship, applicants must meet UK residency requirements. This means that you must have been resident in the United Kingdom for the full three year period before the first day of the first academic year of the course.
  • EU nationals who do not meet UK residency are eligible to apply for a fees only award which will cover tuition fees (no maintenance support is provided).
  • Non-EU nationals must be ‘settled’ in the UK by the closing date of the application or have been ordinarily resident in the UK for purposes other than study for the past three years in order to be eligible for an award.
  • Applicants who already hold a doctoral degree or who have been registered on a programme of research leading to the award of a doctoral degree on a full-time basis for more than one year (or part-time equivalent) are NOT eligible to apply for an award.

Due consideration should be given to financing your studies. Further information on cost of living


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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Profile picture of Professor Stenver Lin

Ulster University has very enhanced independent  learning.  I strongly recommend my students to go abroad to broaden their vision to get  new motivation.  I tell them that when studying at Ulster University, they will receive an abundance of knowledge, new experiences and strong technology to enhance their life.

Professor Stenver Lin - PhD Radiology

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I am currently the Director for the Department of Nursing-midwifery and Women's Heath at NTUNHS.  I studied at Ulster University for 3 years and it was a very happy time.  Ulster is very good for study, not only in academic work but it also shows you how to be a good teacher.

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My career has spanned working within the community for both voluntary and statutory organisations. After completing my degree (Psychology) and Masters many years ago I was drawn once again to the academic life and the challenge of a PhD. I was tremendously privileged a secure a fellowship from HSC R&D office to fund my PhD. After having most recently worked within a health Trust supporting family carers, I wanted to investigate the impact of support services for family carers. I knew that male carers were 'hidden' and as such were particularly in need of support, so my PhD was within this area.I'm definitely most proud of MYSELF! My proudest moment was when I initially secured the funding for the PhD. My favorite memories involved data collection with the wonderful interview participants; and also the camaraderie of my PhD peers, who were always on hand to share the laughter... and the tears. I'll never forget.... my viva!

Anne Fee - PhD in Nursing and Health


Profile picture of Beverley Turtle

As an undergraduate I studied Psychology at Queen's University Belfast which inspired me to work with individuals with brain injuries as a support worker. I later became an occupational therapist and began my PhD at Jordanstown. My research project looked at the psychometric properties of outcome measures implemented in a stroke clinical trial and the acceptability of mirror therapy as an upper limb treatment with stroke survivors.My favourite memory was attending the Royal College of Occupational Therapists Celebration of Excellence Awards 2018, held at The Shard in London. There I was awarded early career researcher for my presentation at the Annual Conference and I got to share and enjoy this experience, and the drinks reception, with my mum!! Truly an enjoyable day out. The support and encouragement I have received throughout from my supervisors, my peers, friends and husband have been immeasurable. I am proud of the person I've become.

Beverley Turtle - PhD in Nursing and Health


Profile picture of Hafi Saad

I am a medical doctor by training, graduating from the University of Khartoum. I have a clinical MD in Community Medicine from Sudan Medical Specialization Board and a Masters in Molecular Medicine in from Institute of Endemic Diseses/University of Khartoum. I was the head of the Community Medicine Department at Shendi University in Sudan from 2010 – 2013 before moving to Northern Ireland to complete a Master of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast. I moved to Northern Ireland to complete a Master’s of Public Health at Queen’s University, Belfast in 2012/13. I was awarded the Ulster University Vice Chancellor’s Research Scholarship (VCRS) to undertake a PhD in the prevalence and risk factors of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland which contributes to the primary prevention of congenital heart disease in Northern Ireland by determining the extent to which specific maternal risk factors are associated with the risk of having a baby with

Hafi Saad - PhD in Nursing and Health


Profile picture of Gareth Thompson

I initiated my PhD following the completion of my undergraduate degree in Health Physiology at Ulster University in 2017. The focus of my PhD research was exploring the molecular mechanisms that may mediate the cardioprotective effects of exercise in coronary artery disease patients. During my PhD, I had the pleasure of receiving supervision from Professor Ciara Hughes, Mrs Jacqui Crawford, and Professor Gareth Davison. The guidance that I received from my experienced PhD supervisors indisputably shaped my personal and professional development; I will be forever grateful for this support. The highlights of my PhD study involve obtaining ethical approval for a clinical research project; interacting with patients and healthcare professionals; presenting at conferences; publishing papers; and a favourable viva experience. My advice to future PhD students is to acknowledge and value the small steps that are taken towards completion with each task that is completed, irrespective of

Gareth Thompson - PhD in Nursing and Health


Profile picture of Julie-Ann Walkden

I started my career as a podiatrist and progressed into management within health and social care and am currently Deputy Director of Assurance at the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority. It has been a privilege to be academically supervised by two inspirational deep thinkers, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh. I also have a role as a single mother and have five brilliant kids who give to me joy and purpose and I am blessed to have loving and supportive parents.This has been a very long time in the making, first considered at the end of my MBA in 2000; twenty years later, in the middle of a pandemic, my book was finally printed. The past seven years of part-time study have probably been the most challenging period of my life, with life events beyond belief to confound the faint hearted; only with the patience, encouragement and support of my supervisors, Professor W George Kernohan and Dr Paul Joseph McCullagh, have I made it to the winner’s

Julie-Ann Walkden - PhD in Nursing and Health