PhD student Rehabilitation Sciences & Physiotherapy - Recovery and plasticity after arm-hand training in persons with cervical spinal cord injury

University of Hasselt
April 15, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Negotigation
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About the function

After spinal cord injury, there is a disruption in the neural circuit resulting in paralysis for which there is no cure yet. In persons with cervical spinal cord injury (pwC-SCI), recovery of arm-hand function is very important because it has a great impact in the degree of self-reliance and quality of life. Recovery is assumed to involve alteration in both central and peripheral motor systems. Intensive motor training may have a positive impact on neurological recovery. This project aims to investigate peripheral and central neuroplasticity after an early (<10 weeks after injury) and intensive (10 weeks of 12 hours of additional therapy) upper limb motor training programme (EIUMT) aimed at recovery below lesion level through an international multi-centre randomised controlled trial.

This project has 4 objectives: to investigate 1) central neural plasticity (identify changes in cortical neuroplasticity and corticospinal excitability); 2) peripheral neural plasticity (identify change in axonal excitability and the number of motor units); 3) clinical motor recovery of the upper limbs and 4) relationships between dose dimensions of the motor intervention and clinical and neurophysiological outcome measures after EIUMT. The results of this project contribute to the optimisation of upper limb training programmes in pwC-SCI which may lead to improved functional outcome.

This PhD research will be conducted under the supervision of prof. dr. Annemie Spooren in an interdisciplinary and international collaboration with Sydney University (Australia) and Aarhus University (Denmark) and (inter)national rehabilitation centres (Belgium, the Netherlands). You follow the guidelines of the Doctoral School'Health & Life Sciences' of Hasselt University.

About us

Within the REVAL Rehabilitation Research group of Hasselt University, the faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences wishes to inform about a vacant PhD position (100%). REVAL is an interdisciplinary and translational research group which performs research in the domains of pediatric, geriatric, neurologic and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, biomechanics, health psychology, mental health care and rehabilitation of internal diseases. This faculty organizes an education program that consists of a 3-year academic bachelor and a 2-year academic master program within Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy. The faculty also provides education in the interuniversity master program in Occupational Sciences. This PhD is done in collaboration with (inter)national rehabilitation centers and research groups.

About you
  • You have a Master in Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Master in Occupational Therapy Sciences, Master in Clinical Neuroscience or similar. Final-year students are (likewise) encouraged to apply.

  • You obtained good academic results.

  • You have a strong affinity with neurorehabilitation and research. Experience in research in the field of neurorehabilitation and/or neuroscience is a plus.
  • Experience with the target population in a clinical setting is a plus.
  • You have knowledge on the design, execution and analysis of experimental research.
  • Experience in data analysis via matlab, R statistical program is a plus.
  • You have a strong problem-solving skills, flexibility, organisational capacity and stress resistance.
  • You have an international mindset.
  • You have interest to perform science communication, teaching and supervising students.
  • You actively contribute to a positive working atmosphere, and make connections between different domains and people (teaching assistants, PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, professors).
  • You have excellent communication skills in English (and Dutch), both oral and written.
  • Our offer

    You will be appointed and paid as PhD student. Position for 2 years. After positive evaluation one time extendable with 2 years. Positon at Hasselt University, campus Diepenbeek.

    Apply for this position

    The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview. A presentation or assignment is a possibility.

    Apply now Apply up to 27.03.2023

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