Digital Economy & Society: ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership / Health and Care Research Wales PhD Studentship: Understanding and Predicting Falls of People Living with Dementia

  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • Deadline: June 18, 2018
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Swansea University, supported by the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Wales (Wales DTP), invites applications for funded PhD study, available to start in October 2018. The following collaborative studentship is available in the Digital Economy and Society pathway of the Wales DTP:

In collaboration with Health and Care Research Wales: ‘Understanding and predicting falls of people living with dementia’ (working title)

Project description:

Falls are a serious health and social care concern, as they are related to lack of social interaction (going out), hospitalisation, hip fractures, death, immobilisation, etc. There is published evidence that cognitive impairment, especially dementia, is an increased risk factor for falls due to reduced ability to dual-task and share attention. Recent research has focused on developing AI-based methods for detecting falls. However, this research is yet to be set in wider social and psychological contexts.

The project aims at addressing this shortage by combining computer science and psychology methods in a study that seeks to understand the fall mechanisms, and the wider context within which people have falls. This new understanding should allow devising intervention strategies. Key research questions are likely to include:

Can AI-based methods be developed to detect mobility and stability losses, and be deployed in real environments?What are the environmental factors associated with the detected falls, and that favour attention shift?Can interventions be designed to alleviate these identified factors?

The successful applicant will design AI-based methods to detect instabilities in gait and posture that are indicative of higher fall risk. These methods will be based on, and extend, the main supervisor’s successful works on identifying movements that deviate from a learnt ‘normal’ model in home environments. They will be used to identify areas in homes that present a higher risk of fall.

Participants aged 65+ with early and middle dementia stages will be recruited, for studies either at home or in care-homes. Focus groups and neuropsychological tests will help link the detected fall-prone areas with the likely causes of increased fall risk, such as causes of attention shifts. Possible interventions to reduce or suppress these elements may be discussed during focus groups as well.

An iterative development strategy will favour user-involvement in the design and evaluation of methods. This will ensure that the developed methods are useable in real scenarios and realise impact. HCRW will help gain direct exposure to Welsh policymakers to help influence policies and enable a maximum impact in Wales.

We welcome applications for both full and part-time study, and studentships are available as either ‘1+3’ (i.e. one full time year of research training Masters followed by three years of full-time doctoral study, or the part-time equivalent), or ‘+3’ (i.e. three years of full-time doctoral study or its part-time equivalent), depending on the needs of the applicant. Swansea University values diversity and equality at all levels and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Research is at the core of Swansea University’s vision. We aim to foster research excellence across a broad range of subject areas, with internationally leading research staff informing all our teaching. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, showed that Swansea is now a top 30 research university, soaring up the leagues table to 26th in the UK from 52nd position in 2008.

SUPERVISION

These studentships are ‘collaborative’ awards. Applicants should take careful consideration of the working title and description of the project, and may wish to contact the named supervisor and / or the Swansea pathway contact for a discussion prior to applying. They are:

Supervisor: Dr Adeline Paiement (a.t.m.paiement@swansea.ac.uk)

Pathway contact: Dr Matthew Roach

Eligibility

ESRC studentships are highly competitive. Candidates should have an excellent background in the social sciences, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class degree; applications from those also holding a relevant research training Master's degree (or an equivalent background in research training) will be considered for a ‘+3’ award.

Residential eligibility:

Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements.

Full-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold either a full-time job, or a permanent part-time job, during the period of their award. Part-time ESRC studentship award holders cannot hold a full-time job.

Benefits

Studentship awards commence in October 2018 and will cover your tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant (currently £14,553 per annum for 2017/18 for full-time students, updated each year) and includes access to an additional Research Training Support Grant (RTSG). There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and other small grants.

A ‘1+3’ studentship provides funding for four years (or part-time equivalent), completing a research training Master's in the 1st year, followed by 3 years research funding for a PhD. A ‘+3’ studentship provides funding for the three years PhD research study only (or part-time equivalent).

Application

Please visit our website for more information.

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