Skip to main content

Musculoskeletal Analysis of Activities for Healthy Ageing in the Knee.


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Dr Todd Stewart
School of Mechanical Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Broadening participation in sport and increasing activity with ageing is a challenge as the range of motion of our joints and power output reduces, often along with an increase in BMI. With weight gain/age, certain activities may lead to joint pain and a reduction in activity level, joint degradation and greater risk of other illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. <br /> <br /> Detailed biomechanical motion analysis from the Faculty of Biological Sciences will be combined with expertise in tribological performance analysis from the Faculty of Engineering, to allow full analysis of the individual during a selection of activities. Through biomechanical motion analysis (Leeds University) of age matched volunteers and musculoskeletal experts (Medicine, NHS) the research will investigate how an activity may be optimized for healthy ageing through modifications in biomechanics that may lead to reductions in adverse movements and loads that may damage joints. <br /> <br /> Specifically the influence of biomechanics on surface shear stresses are of interest as these directly influence the degradation of the joint surfaces. The challenge is to determine to what extent ageing influences the way we complete an activity to prevent potential harm to the articulating surfaces. Current activities being analyzed presently for the hip include gardening, ascending/descending stairs, golf and walking on slopes. Hence, there is scope to repeat this analysis for the knee, however, this is a much more biomechanically challenging joint.<br /> <br /> Data collected will also be used to study how joint loads and motions change with ageing to aid in research towards novel cartilage tissue engineering joint therapies.<br /> <br />

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>&lsquo;Discovery Medicine across the Lifecourse&nbsp;&quot; is a national research priority area of the BBSCR that is focused on understanding how the ageing process influences musculoskeletal function. The overall goal is to improve the maintenance of health through better understanding; encouraging activity, through research, leads to prolonged independent living.</p> <p>Joint replacement has been an extremely successful example of a procedure that prolongs activity of the 70+ age group with severe joint disease, allowing people to restore an active lifestyle.&nbsp; This does, however, generally prohibit some activities that are perceived to have negative effects on prostheses durability due to the restricted range of motion most implants provide.&nbsp; For those whom are younger or whom have less severe conditions, or in future to replace/prevent the need for joint replacement, cartilage tissue engineering has been proposed as a potential solution to this problem, restoring a more normal joint structure that allows an active lifestyle including sport.&nbsp; However, pre-clinical testing of these devices is in its infancy.&nbsp; Additionally there are very few biomechanical studies of activities as a function of age/ability for which to develop mechanical conditions that could be used to facilitate simulation of cartilage substitution therapies for the population they are intended for.&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus the healthy ageing aspect of this project has a focus towards the analysis of activity with ageing to understand age related changes to biomechanics and to develop mechanical inputs for pre-clinical testing of novel tissue engineered therapies aimed at active persons.</p> <p><strong>Research Hypothesis</strong>: Analysis of musculoskeletal function during a specific activity can be used to determine whether the activity may be harmful for the healthy ageing of the individuals&rsquo; knee joints.&nbsp;</p> <p>The biomechanics/movement laboratories in the Faculty of Biological Sciences (Straus) and experience in assessment of the tribological performance of implant bearing materials from Mechanical Engineering (Stewart) offer the ideal environment to study the knee motion during activities and to subsequently understand the risks and benefits for individuals as they age.</p> <p>If you are interested in studying the influence of activity on the biomechanics of knee joints as you age please contact Todd Stewart aim of this research is to analyse the shear and joint reaction forces taking place between the surfaces of the knee under varying activities and to use these results as a means to recommend activities that may be more suited to preventing knee degradation as people age. &nbsp;</p> <p>Objectives:<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Background research: Barriers and benefits to exercise in ageing populations, movement analysis, biomechanics.&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Literature Survey of popular activities to focus biomechanics analysis.<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Ethical review / recruitment&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Experimental Validation of methodologies used using a mechanical surrogate/ desktop model / matlab model.&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Visual 3D, Optical motion tracking training<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Development of a Virtual knee joint motion path model within Visual 3D.<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Biomechanics/ motion tracking analysis of age matched volunteers using FBS gait lab. &nbsp;&nbsp;<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Anybody Multibody dynamics training<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Joint reaction force analysis using Anybody multibody dynamics of movement and force plate data.<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Outcomes - age related changes in biomechanics analysis of data from motion and force.<br /> &bull;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Reporting/Publications (minimum 2 papers) &ndash; Biomechanics (Motions of knee vs activity/age, Forces in knee vs activity/age), Implications to reduce shear on bearing surfaces.</p> <p>In the University research would take place in Mechanical Engineering and Sports Sciences where there are state of the art research facilities for mechanics/instrumentation/ simulation and gait analysis respectively. Clinical research support will be provided via the Leeds Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Center based at Chapel Allerton Hospital, a dedicated Musculoskeletal center of excellence in the NHS.</p> <p>Support will come from the Leeds Biomedical Research Center <a href=""></a>&nbsp;and from the Faculty of Biological Sciences.</p> <p>The earliest start date for this project is 1 October 2020.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Musculoskeletal Analysis of Activities for Healthy Ageing in the Knee as well as <a href="">Dr. Todd D&nbsp;Stewart</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p><strong>Self Funding Applicants are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK </strong>&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Doctoral Scholarship (January deadline)</a>&nbsp;is available to UK applicants. &nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>Non-UK</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;The&nbsp;<a href="">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. &nbsp;<a href="">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information please contact Doctoral College Admissions:&nbsp; <a href=""></a><a href="Ā ">k&nbsp;</a>or +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For information regarding the project, please contact Dr. Todd D Stewart: <a href=""></a>.</p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked research areas</h3>