Partnerships Office

Current ICase PhD Student Vacancies


PhD Title: How does prolonged use of technology affect childhood musculoskeletal development and what are the future implications for the workplace?

The studentship is with University of Salford and Cardinus Risk Management Limited

Academic Supervisor: Dr Anna Cooper-Ryan

Academic Co-Supervisor: Tamara Brown/Dr Steve Preece

Industrial Supervisor:  Stephen Smith

The studentship is fully funded and includes:

  • A fee waiver
  • A stipend of  £15,823.89 p.a. for three and a half years
  • All bench fees and consumable costs
  • Funds specifically allocated for conference travel

Final date for applications: 31th January 2018

Interviews will be held on: Friday 9th February 2018

The candidate must be in a position to register by: 1st April 2018

Project Description

This research will expand our knowledge of the ergonomic risk factors associated with musculoskeletal conditions (MSDs) in children. Specifically, the project will look at the increased use of technology, such as mobile touch screen devices, gaming controllers and laptops, in relation to the prevalence of MSDs. This will be achieved though both a questionnaire-based study and also a field-based study which will investigate the links between objectively measured risk factors (e.g. posture) and the prevalence of MSDs in children. The finding of the study will be interpreted in the context of possible ergonomic needs of the future workforce. This project will be conducted in collaboration with a leading ergonomic company, Cardinus Risk Management Ltd.


Ergonomic risk factors for adults using technology and the links of this usage to MSDs have been clearly identified. However, within the child population, there is a dearth of research in this area. It is widely accepted that the number of children using technology such as mobile touch screen devices, gaming controllers and laptops has increased. Moreover, there is some evidence that there is a high level of MSDs in children with consequences continuing into adulthood and the working population. However, although musculoskeletal symptoms and physiological responses linked to usage of technology in childhood have been reported, the need for further high quality, cross sectional or longitudinal studies in this area has been identified. It is this gap in the evidence that this research will begin to address.

The project aims to:

  • Complete a national questionnaire study which will look at population level data in relation to self-reported prevalence of technology such as mobile touch screen devices, gaming controllers and laptops usage, lifestyle factors, body discomfort and MSDs.
  • Validate portable outcome measurement techniques specific to this research compared to laboratory based measurements.
  • Complete a cross-sectional study using the validated outcome measurements to explore associations between objective risk factors and MSDs.  

Through the aims stated above, this will be the first study to investigate the incidence of MSDs in children in relation to technology use and also to explore the ergonomic risk factors associated with technology use in children, as well as exploring whether there is a relationship between the two. Moreover, the findings from this study will have a real-world implication as the findings from this work will be considered in terms of the future workforce and ergonomics sector.

Health Sciences Research at the University of Salford

The Centre for Health Sciences Research at the University of Salford comprises a multidisciplinary team of staff and research students drawn from the health professions and related disciplines. The research centre has world class research facilities including three biomechanics laboratories, a clinical imaging suite, a psychology lab and a rehabilitation flat. The School currently boasts over £10 million pounds of research funding and has extensive national and international links, with both academic and clinical partners. There is also a vibrant community of approximately 100 students studying either at Ph.D. level or Master’s by research.


Candidates should have a first or upper second class honours in an area relevant to the proposed research. This includes ergonomics / human factors, physiotherapy, or biomechanics. Candidates with other closely-related first degrees should contact the supervisor to discuss possibilities.

Funding Eligibility:

This studentship is only available to students with settled status in the UK, as classified by EPSRC eligibility.  Please visit:

Enquiries: Informal enquiries may be made to Anna Cooper-Ryan by email:

Curriculum vitae and supporting statement explaining their interest should be sent to