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Funded PhD Opportunity

Non-Invasive Telemetric Sensing for Surface Skin Management in Lower Limb Amputation

Subject: Nursing and Health


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

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)

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

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

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

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 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 studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    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 £7,500 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 studentship 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 studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training studentship grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


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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.

Professor Chein Huei Kao - PhD Health Science of Nursing

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Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
Mid March 2019


Applying

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Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Ciara Hughes


Other supervisors

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