Here you can find available PhD topics for:
All applications are required to be lodged online through the University's Online Application system. Click here for further information on this process and required documentation for admission.

Audiology

Title: Improving patient-centred communication in Audiology clinical practice
Type of project:
PhD
Supervisor: Katie Ekberg, Louise Hickson
Project description: Projects available examining client-clinician communicInmation in Audiology clinical practice (adults and paediatrics), with the aim of increasing patient-centred practice in clinical care for people with hearing impairment.

Title: Detecting middle ear problems in school children using wideband absorbance technology
Type of project: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Associate Professor Joseph Kei
Project description: Research evidence revealed that up to 90% of children would develop some form of middle ear infection in childhood resulting in significant hearing loss which affects learning at school. This study aims to detect middle ear problems in Australian school children with a view to provide timely intervention for the affected children.

Title: Early detection of cholesteatoma using an innovative technology
Type of project:
PhD
Supervisor: Associate Professor Joseph Kei
Project description: Cholesteatoma is a middle ear tumour which erodes the bones of the middle ear and inner ear, resulting in hearing loss, dizziness, facial paralysis and intracranial complications. However, traditional audiological assessments are failing to detect cholesteatoma with high accuracy, resulting in a delay in diagnosis. The aim of this project is to evaluate the test performance of an innovative technology (wideband absorbance, WBA) to diagnose cholesteatoma with a view to provide early intervention to alleviate the disease burden in the Australian community.


 
Occupational Therapy

Title: Understanding help seeking behaviour of carers of people with dementia
Type of project:
PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Assoc Professor Sally Bennett
Project description: People with dementia sometimes have changed behaviours that are known as behavioural or psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). We know little about why family members or other caregivers seek help to manage these symptoms and how this support is accessed. Research is needed to better understand this.

Title: Connecting carers of people with dementia with support services
Type of project:
PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Assoc Professor Sally Bennett
Project description: People with dementia sometimes have changed behaviours that are known as behavioural or psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). It is understood that carers of people with Dementia who have BPSD do not always receive the support they need, even though evidence indicates this can be beneficial, and services do exist to provide such support. Research is needed to understand how to translate this knowledge into practice.

Title: Mindfulness for cancer-related fatigue
Type of project:
PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Assoc Professor Sally Bennett
Project description: Fatigue is one of the most distressing symptoms for people with cancer. Mindfulness is one approach that has been suggested to be of potential benefit. The aim of this project is to determine the effectiveness of mindfulness in helping people manage cancer-related fatigue.

Title: Building capacity for Knowledge Translation in occupational therapy
Type of project:
PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Assoc Professor Sally Bennett
Project description: the knowledge translation literature suggests that knowledge translation processes can help reduce the gap between research and practice. However it is important to build capacity amongst clinicians to understand and use knowledge translation processes. This research will extend existing research into knowledge translation in occupational therapy

Title: Neurorehabilitation of the upper limb in children and adults: Therapists’ clinical reasoning and intervention outcomes
Type of project:
PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Jodie Copley
Project description: A number of projects are available focusing on therapists’ clinical decision making for management of upper limb hypertonicity and achievement of daily life goals for children and adults with brain injury. Other projects focus on outcomes of interventions including movement training, resting and functional splints, and casting.

Title: Using smart technology to deliver cognitive rehabilitation for people with neurological conditions
Type of project: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Hannah Gullo
Project Description: Smartwatches, which synchronise with applications on personal mobile devices, have recently appeared on the market, and have much potential to provide an innovative approach to the delivery of cognitive rehabilitation using compensatory strategies. This project involves evaluating the usability and effectiveness of the latest smart technology as an assistive aid in improving everyday memory and organisation in people with cognitive impairment due to neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and brain injury.

Title: The experience of cognitive fatigue in multiple sclerosis
Type of project: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Hannah Gullo
Project Description: People with multiple sclerosis often report a decrease in physical energy, as well as a lack of mental stamina, impacting on daily functioning. Recent work in the field advocates a multidimensional approach to assessing fatigue. However, a better understanding of the experience of cognitive fatigue in people with multiple sclerosis is required to enable development of new approaches to assessment and management of this poorly understood symptom.

Title: Occupational engagement during stroke rehabilitation
Type of project: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Assoc Prof Louise Gustafsson
Project description: The increasing focus on enriched environments for stroke rehabilitation derive from studies related to activity levels and recovery. A consumer voice is required to inform the development of these environments. The proposed study would seek to understand occupational engagement within a stroke rehabilitation ward setting from the perspectives of clients, carers, and health professionals with aims to develop alternatives to the current models for enrichment and pilot testing.

Title: Children’s health, recovery and family centred practice.
Supervisors: Professor Jenny Ziviani and occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language pathologists and audiologists at Children’s Health Queensland
Project Description: There are currently a range of research topics which interface with clinical practice areas at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (e.g. rehabilitation, burns, respiratory, oncology); community health supporting children with developmental disabilities (e.g. autism, developmental delays) and children and youth mental health service. Practitioners interested in discussing options are invited to contact Jenny Ziviani and explore how their ideas might interface with these existing research undertakings.

Title:  Knowledge translation to increase the quality, dose and density of upper limb therapy provided by occupational therapists to children with unilateral cerebral palsy
Type of project: PhD/MPhil
Supervisors: Dr Leanne Sakzewski, Professor Jenny Ziviani
Project description: This study aims to examine the effect of two implementation methods on the uptake of a best evidenced based approach to upper limb therapy for children with unilateral cerebral palsy. Secondarily, client outcomes will be investigated including the achievement of individualised goals and improvements in upper limb function. A cluster randomised trial will compare the impact of a multifaceted implementation program incorporating audit/feedback, barrier identification and interactive training to a single faceted implementation strategy incorporating audit and feedback alone on the quality and dose of upper limb therapy for children with unilateral CP, provided by occupational therapists across 4 regional areas (clusters) in Queensland.

 


 

Physiotherapy

Title: Devices measuring movement in Parkinson’s Disease
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Professor Sandra Brauer
Project Description: This project involves working in a multidisciplinary team of health and engineering researchers to develop new technologies to measure and monitor motor performance of people with Parkinson’s Disease in their own home. It aims to develop and validate measures of gait, postural stability, arm function, physical activity and signs such as tremor in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Title: Improving physical activity after stroke
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Professor Sandra Brauer
Project Description: Activity levels of people with stroke are very low and place them at further risk of another stroke. This project investigates the effect of combining treadmill training and a self management approach during rehabilitation to improve physical activity after rehabilitation.

Title: Brain stimulation after stroke
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Professor Sandra Brauer
Project Description: This project aims to combine non-invasive brain stimulation with a new non-robotic device, the SMART Arm, to improve arm activity and reduce impairments in people with severe paresis after stroke.

Title: Assessment and rehabilitation of spinal control to withstand axial load.
Type of Project: PhD
Supervisor: Dr Andrew Claus
Project Description: Investigating spinal biomechanics, with special interest in dynamic postural control and neuromuscular function in idiopathic scoliosis. Foundation studies have defined normal responses to axial load. Future studies will investigate responses in cohorts with pain, and with spinal pathology.

Title: Dynamic postural control in idiopathic scoliosis
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Andrew Claus
Project Description: These studies will explore new aspects of spinal biomechanics and neuromuscular function, examining dynamic postural control in people with and without idiopathic scoliosis.

Title: Plantar tactile stimulation to improve balance, mobility and reduce falls in ageing, neurological, metabolic and musculoskeletal disease populations
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Anna Hatton
Project Description: Providing enhanced sensory information to the soles of the feet, by way of innovative rehabilitation devices (e.g. textured shoe insoles), may have the capacity to improve balance and walking ability and reduce the risk of falls, in people with age-related or pathological loss of foot sensation. This research aims to investigate the effects of wearing novel sensory-driven shoe insoles and foot orthoses on postural stability and gait in older adults, people with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and painful lower limb musculoskeletal conditions. This is a multi-professional research program[AH1] .


 [AH1]Please could this new research program be added, to replace the two studies above. Thanks!


Project 1: The goal of motor adaptation
Title: Understanding the goal of the motor adaptation to pain
Type of project: PhD/MPhil
Supervisors: Assoc Professor François Hug, Kylie Tucker and Professor Paul Hodges
Project Description: The effects of pain on movement have been widely studied during acute experimental pain and in people with clinical musculoskeletal pain conditions. Changes in movement control during pain are thought to reduce load on painful tissue to protect from further pain and/or injury. Although logical and generally assumed to be correct, there is surprisingly little evidence to provide definitive support for this theory. For example, using an innovative elastographic technique, we recently showed that muscle stress/load is not systematically decreased within the painful area during an isometric single joint task (Tucker et al., submitted). Three issues could explain this. First, the theory may be wrong and the adaptation to pain may not serve to unload irritated tissue. Second, our acute pain model may not induce the same changes in load distribution as clinical pain, and alternative pain models should be used. Third, the isometric single joint tasks may be insufficient to allow changes in motor strategy that unload the painful tissue. This project will address these issues, and in doing so provide direct insight into the goal of the motor adaptation to pain.

Project 2: Variability and Persistent Pain
Title: Do changes in movement variability evolve with repeated exposure to pain over multiple days?
Type of project: PhD/MPhil
Supervisor(s): Assoc Professor François Hug, Kylie Tucker, and Professor Paul Hodges
Project Description: Complex changes in motor control during pain have been explored in depth during simple tasks. However, less is known about pain-induced changes for tasks involving coordinated activity of multiple muscles, in which multiple options for different muscle combinations are available to perform the task (i.e. musculo-skeletal redundancy). The successful control of movement is inherently linked to variability in movement performance. For example, cyclic variability in knee angle during walking is thought to distribute loading between joint structures. In this context, providing the outcome is successful variability is thought to be ‘good’. Variability of movement is reduced in people with some clinical pain conditions. In these chronic musculoskeletal conditions it is not known if pain is the factor that reduces variability and/or if the reduced variability over time induces the pain, through repetitive loading on joint structures. To determine if changes in movement variability to short term pain exposure may underpin more long-term adaptations, we must first consider the evolution of this variable over multiple days of pain.

Project 3: Variability and motor organization in clinical pain populations
Title: Is the organization of movement and degree of movement variability altered in people with chronic clinical pain conditions?

Type of project: PhD/MPhil
Supervisor(s): Kylie Tucker, Assoc Professor François Hug, Assoc Professor Kay Crossley and Professor Paul Hodges
Project Description: Anterior knee pain is a chronic condition, that can have a long-term impact on an individuals participation in physical activity. Significant links exist between the duration of anterior knee pain and the development of knee osteoarthritis. Considerable literature explores changes in gait and tissue loading with knee osteoarthritis, when both pain and tissue degeneration is significant. Understanding changes in movement control, including movement variability and synergistic organization of muscle coordination during gait, in the earlier stage of this degenerative process (when pain is present, but tissue changes are not yet observed) is likely to support the development of early management techniques that could ultimately prevent chronicity. Reduced variably (e.g. of knee angular velocity) has been observed in people with anterior knee pain when running. We will determine if changes in movement variability and muscle synergy organisation is altered during movement tasks that are pain provoking and non-pain provoking.  

Title: Improving paediatric physiotherapy
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Leanne Johnston
Project Description: Multiple opportunities are available to investigate a variety of physiotherapy-based research questions under the umbrella of paediatric physiotherapy. There are opportunities for UQ-based projects working in conjunction with Queensland Children’s Hospital / Children’s Health Queensland Health (acute ortho, respiratory or neurological), the Cerebral Palsy League (cerebral palsy and acquired brain injury) and the UQ Paeds clinic (Developmental delay or Developmental Coordination Disorder).

Title: Promoting successful return to work for workers with musculoskeletal absences through supervisor training
Type of project:
PhD
Supervisor: A/Prof Venerina Johnston
Project description: Line supervisors are important in the return to work of injured workers. Based on identified competencies required by supervisors to better support workers returning to work after an injury, a training program will be developed and implemented in high risk industries. It is believed that this training will impact supervisor’s knowledge, confidence and behaviours related to return to work and have downstream impact on the number and duration of workers compensation injuries.

Title: Early triage of workers with musculoskeletal injuries to reduce disability for work
Type of project: PhD
Supervisor: A/Prof Venerina Johnston
Project description: We know that early intervention for the management of musculoskeletal injuries is associated with faster return to work. This project will investigate innovative models of early intervention such as telephone triage and workplace based participatory approach to early intervention for the prevention of work disability for those with a musculoskeletal problem.

Title: Promoting self-management for work following a musculoskeletal injury
Type of project: PhD
Supervisor: A/Prof Venerina Johnston
Project description: Returning to work after a workplace injury can be difficult and take longer than expected for some people. This project will explore using a specifically developed App to engage, educate and enable individuals to return to work and function following a work-related musculoskeletal injury.

Title:  Understanding the effects of standing at work on musculoskeletal symptoms
Type of project: PhD
Supervisor: A/Prof Venerina Johnston and Dr Michelle Smith
Project description:  Industry is installing sit-stand workstations for office workers to mitigate the negative health effects of sedentary work. However, for some people prolonged standing at work is associated with lower back pain, hip pain, lower extremity and foot pain. In other circumstances, individuals are transitioning to sit-stand workstations because of musculoskeletal pain. There are multiple projects within this topic which will investigate kinematic, kinetic, ergonomic set-up, and other factors that may be associated with the development or resolution of symptoms in workers who transition to a sit-stand workstation.

Title: Educational innovations in cardiorespiratory physiotherapy
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Allision Mandrusiak
Project Description: Dr Mandruisak has potential projects available aimed to improve student performance and use innovative teaching technologies such as standardised patients to teach clinical skills in the cardiorespiratory physiotherapy context, from paediatric to geriatric patient populations. She also has projects aimed to investigate the effect of exercise on cardiac and respiratory conditions across the lifespan.

Title: Tele rehabilitation for remote physiotherapy assessment and treatment
Type of Project:
MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Assoc Professor Trevor Russell
Project Description: There is a growing need for tele rehabilitation services to deliver medical services including physiotherapy practice. Projects are available that aim to validate remote assessment practices, undertake controlled trials of tele rehabilitation interventions including rehabilitation in orthopaedics.

Title: Understanding impairments and management of musculoskeletal injuries
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Michelle Smith
Project Description: Dr Smith has several projects available in the field of musculoskeletal physiotherapy. These projects investigate postural and motor control changes associated with acute and recurrent lower limb and lumbar spine injuries, and the effect of physiotherapy management on impairments, return to sport/function and recurrence.

Title: Consequence of respiratory disease
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Dr Michelle Smith
Project Description: There are both respiratory and non-respiratory consequences to respiratory disease. Dr Smith has several projects available that investigate impairments in postural control and pelvic floor function in individuals with respiratory disease. Projects encompass understanding these comorbidities and their management.

Title: Pain, tendinopathies and orthoses
Type of Project: MPhil / PhD
Supervisor: Professor Bill Vicenzino
Project Description: Prof Vicenzino has several projects available that encompass tendinopathy, pain mechanisms in musculoskeletal conditions, hip and knee pain and foot orthoses.

 


 

Speech Pathology

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Tony Angwin
Project Titles:   

  • Investigating the brain mechanisms that underpin how white noise impacts cognition, language processing and/or learning using EEG
  • Language processing and word learning in aphasia

Project type: PhD
Supervisor: Professor David Copland
Project Titles:   

  • Using functional and structural MRI to predict aphasia recovery
  • Enhancing aphasia recovery through music exposure
  • Individual factors predicting aphasia recovery and treatment response
  • Exercise and word learning

Title: Communication partner training
Supervisor:  Dr Emma Finch
Project Description: The communication difficulties associated with aphasia can create a significant barrier to the involvement of people with stroke in healthcare decisions. This project will investigate the effectiveness of communication partner training with healthcare professional and healthcare professional students

Title: Computer-based therapy for aphasia
Supervisor:  Dr Emma Finch
Project Description: Little is known about the impact of computer-based aphasia therapy in sub-acute rehabilitation settings. This project will investigate the effects of computer-based therapy as an adjunct to standard speech pathology treatment approaches for individuals with aphasia in the inpatient rehabilitation ward and hospital outpatient settings.

Title: Evaluation of a new approach to stroke management
Supervisor: Emma Finch
MPhil or PhD
Details: The management of stroke is changing rapidly worldwide. This project will explore and evaluate new service delivery models of stroke management.
 
Title: Exploring the unmet needs of minor stroke patients
Supervisor: Emma Finch
MPhil or PhD
Details: Previous pilot work by our project team has found that patients who have experienced a minor stroke can have health, rehabilitation and social needs to are unmet by current services. This project will explore the unmet needs in greater detail and develop a new approach to meeting these unmet needs.

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Anne J Hill
Project Titles:   

  • Developing a roadmap for the successful implementation of telerehabilitation into clinical practice in speech-language pathology: Opportunities, barriers and facilitators.
  • The development and evaluation of web-based therapy tools for the telerehabilitation treatment of adult neurogenic communication disorders.
  • The development and evaluation of therapy tools for use on mobile technologies and their telerehabilitation application in the management of adult neurogenic communication

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Anne E Hill
Project Titles:   

  • Benchmarking of student clinical performance for quality improvement
  • The use of peer learning models
  • The application of mobile technologies in clinical learning
  • Student learning in intensive fluency clinics

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Tanya Rose
Project Titles:   

  • Equipping caregivers to facilitate early child language development in everyday settings: Exploring applications of tele-practice
  • Comparing parent child interactions when reading e-books and paper book
  • Engagement with early childhood educators and child health nurses to improve child language outcomes
  • Speech pathology student learning outcomes following participation in an intensive early language therapy program
  • I’ve never heard the word ‘aphasia’! Does the provision of accessible aphasia information throughout the continuum of care make a difference?
  • “My child can’t be the only young person to have had a stroke”: Speech pathology services for younger people living with aphasia

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Dr Nerina Scarinci
Project Titles:   

  • The effect of communication disorders and delays in children on parents and other family members and the implementation of family-centred care to address these impacts
  • Habilitation outcomes for children with hearing impairment (cochlear implants and hearing aids) and the impact of habilitation on parents and families

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Professor Deborah Theodoros
Project Titles:   

  • The implementation of telehealth as a service delivery model in  management of communication disorders in adults and children
  • Treatment of dysarthria

Project type: PhD or MPhil
Supervisor: Prof Liz Ward
Project Titles:   

  • Head and Neck Cancer: Speech and swallowing management – optimising recovery & outcomes
  • Dysphagia: all aspects including assessment, treatment, prognosis & outcomes
  • Burns, Trauma and Critical Care Research (including tracheostomy and ventilation dependent populations) – speech and swallowing outcomes
  • Telehealth applications for dysphagic populations
  • Changing models of care and extended/expanded scope