Cohort 2

Sean Donald

I am currently in the second year of the CDT, having joined as part of Cohort 2, and have successfully completed the MSc in prosthetic and orthotic science and my first year PhD assessment. Previously, I studied at the University of Sheffield, completing an integrated MEng in Bioengineering with tissue regeneration and biomaterials. Outside of work I enjoy playing most sports, particularly football, and have developed an interest in cooking during lockdown.

Project Title:

The effects on gait of the mechanistic properties and alignment of AFOs, used in the rehabilitation
of children with cerebral palsy.


Richard Jones, Julie Reay, Elaine Owen


Cerebral palsy is the leading cause of childhood disability with a prevalence of 2 to 3 per 1000 live births. It leads to primary neurological pathologies including loss of selective motor control, weakness, motor disorders and impaired balance. In turn these result in secondary musculoskeletal defects and tertiary abnormal gait patterns. Ankle foot orthoses (AFO) are the preferred treatment option when aiming to restore the characteristics of typical gait, however there are reoccurring issues with current research, including poor study design and a tendency to study the AFO as a whole device, ignoring the contribution of specific design characteristics. These factors can be divided into two domains. Mechanical properties, including material type and trimline design, dictate the rigidity of the device at the ankle and metatarsal-phalangeal joint, whilst factors associated with alignment, including the ankle angle and shank to vertical angle, manipulate the ground reaction force. Collective they modify the existing system of forces and moments acting on the lower limbs, producing more typical kinematics and kinetics. During prescription, if appropriate consideration for these characteristics is given, it is possible to tailor an AFO to the individual’s needs, through a process known as biomechanical optimisation. However, evidence supporting this process is limited and clinical uptake has been poor. Consequently, this thesis aims to investigate the biomechanical effects of AFO design characteristics on the gait of children with cerebral palsy. In turn, this should provide a body of quantitative evidence, that can be used to influence clinical practice surrounding biomechanical optimisation.

Cohort 2 Uncategorized

Victoria Gittins

Host institution: University of Salford

Background: BSc Sport and Exercise Science, MSc Computer Science

PhD Topic: Digital toolkit for patient reported outcome measures in orthotics 

Hobbies and Interests: Running, swimming and surfing


Cohort 2

Maariya Mahmood

Title: Bringing the assessment of biomechanical interventions into clinical practice and use in knee osteoarthritis.

Supervisors: Dr Carina Price

                      Professor Richard Jones

Background: The knee joint experiences higher loads therefore it is affected the most and is commonly affected by knee osteoarthritis (KOA). There is no cure for knee osteoarthritis therefore its management is crucial. Biomechanical interventions such as orthotic devices are commonly recommended to prevent the progression of the disease. However, not all patients experience a decrease in EKAM which is an important objective of biomechanical interventions. An increased EKAM is linked to decrease in function and progression of knee osteoarthritis. Gold standard methods such as 3D marker-based motion capture are used to assess the effects of biomechanical interventions. However, there are many limitations of marker-based systems, they are inaccessible to clinicians as well as expensive. Alternative methods are required to objectively assess interventions in clinic without expensive and time-consuming systems. Plantar pressure measurement systems can be used to evaluate interventions instead of gait laboratories, this is a common method of assessment in diabetic patients. Another potential alternative method to assess the effects of interventions is markerless motion capture systems.  

Aim: Assessing the ability of plantar pressure and markerless systems to identify biomechanical responders (decreased EKAM) compared to 3D marker-based systems. To explore the reliability of the different systems and their feasibility to assess an intervention. This will help to identify an objective lower-cost system for the assessment of interventions in knee osteoarthritis patients in clinic.   

Cohort 2

Matt Wassall

The title of my PhD is “K Level Classification through real-world activity assessment of lower limb amputees”. My supervisors are Dr Sibylle Thies, Professor Malcolm Granat and Sir Saeed Zahedi.

The aim of the PhD is to create an objective assessment method that can enhances the reliability and consistency of lower limb prosthetic patient’s K level classification. The objective method will be a sensor based system that can measures variables which characterize aspects of human movement, and to use these to classify the patient’s activity levels in the real world. From reviews of past literature and interviews with clinical experts the most desired variables to measure are cadence, step count, walking with or without an aid and if the patient can travers different terrain. The system will need to be either attached or built into the prosthesis and be as cost efficient as possible to meet the feasibility requirements

My hobbies are really just ice hockey.


Cohort 2

Oliver Chalmers

Title: Developing a biomechanical diabetic foot ulceration risk model.

Supervisor: Dr Daniel Parker

Co-Supervisors: Professor Chris Nester, Dr Yeliz Prior

Background and Rationale: Diabetes prevalence is at epidemic levels and continually rising (Zhang et al., 2020). It is now believed that every 30 seconds a lower limb is amputated as a consequence of diabetes (Singh, 2005), and in 85% of these cases, amputation was preceded by a diabetic foot ulceration (DFU) (Lepäntalo et al., 2011).  DFU’s represent the highest cause of hospitalisation in people with diabetes (Lepäntalo et al., 2011), an individual’s lifetime risk of DFU development is 15-25% (Armstrong et al., 2017). Once ulcerated recurrence rates are 40% within a year and up to 65% five-years post healing (Armstrong et al., 2017). Mortality rates after the onset of an initial DFU are higher than many common cancers, reported to be between 30% and 55% (Armstrong et al., 2020). The alarmingly high recurrence and mortality rates frame the context for my PhD; primary and secondary prevention of DFU’s is critical if we wish to prevent amputation, and ultimately death. The optimal strategy for prevention is to predict and monitor an individual’s future risk of developing a DFU. Although the aetiology of ulceration is complex, an interaction with a patho-mechanical pathway is typical in ulcer development. However, the current biomechanical risk model, that primarily focuses on peak pressure, has failed to predict ulceration events (Waajiman et al., 2014) or correlate with sites of ulcer incidence (Veves et al., 1998; Ledoux et al., 2013). This has led to calls for refinement of current biomechanical markers of risk, with a need for an understanding of all mechanical factors at play in ulceration development (Lazzarini et al., 2019; Yavuz, 2021).


Aim 1: To investigate the real-world activity profiles of patients with different ulceration risk status.

Aim 2: To investigate the influence of a number of representative real world physical activities on both shod and barefoot plantar pressure and shear in patients with different ulceration risk status.

Aim 3: To develop a model of diabetic foot ulceration risk based on the interaction between plantar pressure profiles, physical activity, and clinical status.

Cohort 2

Balint Hodossy

Title: Neural Driven Motion Synthesis for Assistive Technology

Supervisor: Dario Farina

Host institution: Imperial College London Project summary (abstract style):
Unintuitive and inefficient control schemes of electronic lower limb Prosthetic and Orthotic (P&O) devices limit the number of cases where they are a worthwhile intervention. Furthermore, commercial control algorithms are challenged by uneven terrain and turning during walking. Muscle signals contain information about the intended upcoming motion, which is required for responsive control strategies. Predicting the motion directly from these signals is prone to producing unfeasible or unsafe movement. Instead, an abstract representation of the underlying intent can be first estimated from muscle signals, from which stable motion is synthesised in a separate step. This project investigates data-driven, hierarchical control schemes targeting lower limb P&O devices.

Project summary (biography style):
My project investigates the requirements for synthesising walking motion. I’m quantifying the available information from muscle signals for lower limb device control,  and I’m looking for hierarchical systems, intent representations and control strategies that increase the reliability and versatility of the generated movement.

Other interests:
Tabletop gaming, hiking, doodling

Cohort 2

Kirsty Carlyle

Previous Degree: MEng degree in Biomedical Engineering – University of Glasgow

Host Institution: University of Strathclyde

PhD Topic: Developing an outcome measurement tool for assessing real world use of partial hand prosthetics

​Supervisors: Sarah Day and Arjan Buis

Hobbies and Interests: Watching football, hillwalking, travelling and socialising with friends

Cohort 2

Hope Shaw


Intelligent feedback to assist upper limb rehabilitation


Prof. Liudi Jiang – University of Southampton

Prof JW McBride – University of Southampton

Detailed information of your project

Upper limb rehabilitation aims to reduce the barriers of daily-living for both upper-limb amputees and those with movement disorders, such as a stroke. These conditions dramatically affect the patient’s quality of life and they can be dependent on rehabilitation technology to live independently. Many clinically used upper limb rehabilitation devices already make use of electromyography (EMG) signals as a control mechanism, relying on user-based sensors to completed feedback loops, for instance from visual cues. There is a growing body of research into implementing intelligent feedback from electronic sensors to either replace or compliment the user-based feedback. By doing this the system has the capabilities of producing more accurate, more precise and faster responses however evidence for this in current systems is sparse and further developments are needed before this technology becomes a clinical standard.

The overall aim of this PhD research is to develop advanced technologies and signal processing strategies for intelligent feedback with a view to assisting upper limb rehabilitation.  The project will build upon an in-depth understanding of upper limb biomechanics and state of the art assistive technologies, such as myoelectric prostheses. The research will review current electromyography (EMG), biomimetic sensors, signal processing and control techniques with the aim to combine and develop these systems to create more stability, precision and accuracy within the upper limb rehabilitation device.

Hobbies and interests

I am enjoying learning new skills so have recently been learning British Sign Language and brushing up my French. I am also a part of the Southampton Philharmonic Choir where I sing first Soprano. I also enjoy performing stand-up comedy and perform a set about once a month in local venues. I also enjoy reading, crafts, and water sports.

Cohort 2

Jack Hayes

My project is “Optimisation of the skin-prosthetics coupling: Biomechanics of the skin-prosthetics interface”

“22% of prosthesis users abandon their device within one year and 63% report one or more skin problem before 1 year of use. Why is this the case? My project aims to understand some of the mechanisms that might lead to skin breakdown and developing therapies and products to reduce the prevalence of injury. This involves taking classical engineering theory and experiments and marrying them with biological techniques to approach the problem as an entire system, not individual and mutually exclusive components.”

The work will be supervised by Dr. Marc Masen (, Dr. Claire Higgins ( and Dr. Peter Worsley (

Research interests

  • Tribology of Human Tissue
  • Skin Injury, Inflammation and Apoptosis
  • BioTribology
  • Prosthetics
  • Mechanobiology
  • Florescent Microscopy



Cohort 2

Alice Benton

My PhD project is titled ‘Improving the rehabilitation outcomes of bilateral above / through-knee amputees’. My project utilises musculoskeletal modelling to evaluate the increased burden on the residual tissue and to guide the development of a novel rehabilitation programme which will aim to alleviate these high forces.

I enjoy being active with swimming and cycling, watching films / reading books and socialising with my friends while exploring new places and restaurants.