PhD Position in Neurorehabilitation and Neurology

University of Zurich University Hospital Balgrist


University Hospital Balgrist, Spinal Cord Injury Center

PhD position in neurorehabilitation and neurology
60 %

Damage to the human spinal cord, be it due to inflammation as in multiple sclerosis (MS) or resulting from trauma or ischemia, frequently impairs walking function with devastating consequences for the affected individual. Locomotor function in humans with spinal cord damage can be improved through training. However, the best form of physical therapy remains undetermined, with the application of deficit- vs. task-oriented training of particular importance. This project may pave the way to more efficient training approaches in subjects with spinal cord damage by transferring and implementing modern gait assessment techniques into clinical neurorehabilitation and to move towards individual, patient-tailored locomotor training programs.

Your responsibilities

The objective of this three-year project is to further advance current clinical locomotor training strategies by applying a deficit-oriented gait training approach based on subject-specific, objective gait profiles gleaned from 3D gait analysis in chronic, mildly to moderately gait-impaired individuals with spinal cord damage due to inflammation (MS) or with traumatic or ischemic spinal cord injury (SCI; motor incomplete). Within a parallel-group clinical trial, gait impaired subjects will be characterised by detailed kinematic 3D gait analysis and either trained according to their individual deficits or treated with non-specific, standard walking therapy for six weeks. Normalised improvement in the six minute walk test will serve as the primary outcome in this study. Secondary outcome measures include short distance walking tests, kinematic, kinetic and electromyographic measures during treadmill walking, and a patient-based questionnaire on walking function as well as quantitative readouts describing performance in an untrained motor task, i.e., in this case swimming, to assess transfer of improvements.

Your profile

Applicants should have a university degree in (neuro-/human-) biology, medicine, biomechanics, human movement sciences or related field. They should be highly motivated and sensitive for dealing with patients. Also, they should have good computer skills and a good knowledge of statistics. Good use of German and English is necessary. Applicants should also have experience with MATLAB.

What we offer

We offer varied and interesting work in an inspiring and socially relevant environment.
Diversity and inclusion are important to us. PhD salary rates of the SNF apply. If you are looking for an exciting PhD position in an interdisciplinary and highly motivated team, please send us your application as a merged PDF file including a CV, motivation letter, and name of at least one reference.

Place of work

University Hospital Balgrist, Zurich

Start of employment

Beginning of the thesis
March/April 2020

In your application, please refer to


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