Exercise Science: Fully Funded MSc by Research Scholarship at Swansea University: Head Impact Telemetry in Rugby Union: Validation of a Bespoke Instrumented Mouthguard

  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • Deadline: August 22, 2018
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*This scholarships is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

MSc by Research for UK or EU applicants in the field of: Sports Biomechanics and Technology

Sports & Wellbeing Analytics Ltd (SWA) in close partnership with Dr Williams and Dr Brown from Swansea University and other commercial partners, are developing a bespoke instrumented mouthguard to measure head impact events in the sport of rugby union. This project began in 2016, funded by SWA in conjunction with Ospreys Rugby. This is currently expanding into other Welsh regions, supported by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). From a University perspective, the development of this mouthguard is part of the Look Ahead project which is a much wider study. This involves looking at developing a holistic brain injury management tool. This includes studying background medical data, demographics and other measurable quantities from each athlete in addition to regular neurocognitive screening. The ability to accurately, reliably and repeatably measure valid head impact is the current focus of the Look Ahead project. This is a crucial step and requires significant validation work to be done for quality assurance purposes. This MSc work will involve the development of validation methodologies using impacts generated by players, with some sensor testing with human subjects in the biomechanics lab. The MSc candidate will also be involved in crash test dummy work with the lead investigators. The desired outcomes of the project will deliver a methodology and a comprehensive dataset of real positive, false positive, real negative and false negative results recorded by the mouthguards for impacts from a variety of rugby-specific movements. It will also include details of the levels of head acceleration sustained by players of different positions, ages, stature throughout the season in training and competition. This data will provide invaluable insights into the nature and severity of head impacts experienced by professional rugby union players. These insights, in due course, can be expanded to all levels of the game to assist with potential rule changes to improve athlete safety. This device is classified as a behaviour modification tool not a medical device so does not at present require NHS ethics.

Scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners including SMEs and micro companies, as well as public and third sector organisations. The scholarship provides 1 year funding with a 3 month period to complete the thesis. The achievement of a postgraduate skills development award, PSDA, is compulsory for each KESS II scholar and is based on a 30 credit award.

Eligibility

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree in Exercise Science (biomechanics) or a related subject. They should also be eligible for UK/EU Fees.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit – http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/englishlanguagerequirements/

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Benefits

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend. The bursary will be limited to a maximum of £11,586 p.a. dependent upon the applicant’s financial circumstances.

There will also be additional funds available for research expenses.

Application

Please visit our website for more information.