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Funded PhD Opportunity

Concussion in Youth Rugby

This project is funded by: Irish Rugby Football Union

Subject: Nursing and Health


Summary

Background

Sports related concussion is a public health concern worldwide.  The rate of concussion in professional rugby union is estimated at 22 players per 1000 game hours (Rafferty et al., 2019) and 6 per 1000 game hours in adolescent players (Archbold et al., 2017), or the equivalent of 3 per team per season. Our research group (RISUS: Rugby Injury Surveillance in Ulster Schools) has recorded injury data from >1500 schoolboy rugby players over a 3-year period, in collaboration with the Irish Rugby Football Union, University College Dublin and most recently the University of Limerick. The current management of concussion in youth rugby players, involves a mandatory convalesce period of at least 23 days. It is not clear whether this time period is enough to ensure a full recovery prior to returning to sport, and few validation studies exist.

Aims & Objectives

The primary aim of this PhD study will be to validate the existing guidelines for U20 players returning to play post-concussion.  The primary objectives are to examine:

1). Evidence on how concussion affects the sensorimotor system and its subsystems: e.g. vestibular, oculomotor, somatosensory.

2). Clinometric and psychometric properties of key clinical outcome tools in this field (sensorimotor system)

3). How concussions effect the sensorimotor system in youth rugby players, and determine the time to full recovery

Methods

It is anticipated that this project will involve a range of quantitative research techniques. The first and second objectives will be examined through literature reviewing and meta-analyses. The main study will align with objective three and will be an extension of an ongoing injury surveillance project currently ongoing, involving grammar and secondary schools in Ireland. Data capture will continue over an entire season, and will involve baseline testing of adolescent rugby players and follow up testing (in the event of a concussion). The RISUS group has ongoing collaborations with a large number of schools around the province of Ulster. Analysis. It is anticipated that analyses will initially involve, systematic review and meta-analysis techniques including COSMIN directed consensus (objective 2). The main study data will be analysed using multivariate and survival modelling.

Project output

This project will help to validate current guidelines on concussion management in adolescent sports. This will help to inform injury prevention techniques and enhance player welfare across all youth contact sports. How the proposals fit the Centre’s themes It is important to remain physically active at all stages of life. Many young people use competitive sport to stay healthy, but in sports such as rugby, there is often an associated risk of injury. This project will examine the validity of current health practices within this sport, and will examine the potential for of various health technologies to inform evidence based decision making in the event of a concussion.


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.
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
  • A demonstrable interest in the research area associated with the studentship

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.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

This project is funded by: Irish Rugby Football Union

    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 support 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 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 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 support 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

Part funded by the Irish Rugby Football Union


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

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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Profile picture of Professor Chein Huei Kao

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
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
19th/20th March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Jordanstown campus

Jordanstown campus
The largest of Ulster's campuses


Contact supervisor

Dr Chris Bleakley


Other supervisors

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