Topic: Health

Thank you Manchester... It has been a pleasure!

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi everyone!

This is the first of my blogs which I have written away from my desk, I am currently writing it whilst working as a nanny (it is afternoon nap time of course!), which is much harder than I originally thought and will keep me busy this summer. I miss Manchester already, I had such a lovely send off last week, it feels strange not to be there anymore!

I thought in my last blog I would reflect on some of the skills I have developed, including technical skills relevant to my placement alongside some transferable skills which will be very beneficial in my final year of study, as well as in my future career.



I thought I would also highlight a few of the other things I have learnt; firstly preparation is key... how does the saying go? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Everything is more likely to run smoothly if there is some planning put into it, some things are still likely to go wrong but not as many things that would go wrong without preparation. Leading onto my overused saying throughout my blogs of not everything in research goes to plan straight away, it doesn’t always go wrong but there can always be setbacks. From this I have learnt to keep calm before getting stressed out, take time to think about the options available. In research there are always tasks that need to be completed, which will save time in the long run when everything is back on track, so I have learnt that when these setbacks do occur it is worth thinking ahead and working on other tasks which need to be completed. Finally I think that if you are looking to do a work placement working in research it is also important to note that you get out what you put in! I had some amazing opportunities whilst working at Salford and the experience has been invaluable, I have learnt so much! I wouldn’t of chosen a different placement at all and believe that this one was the one for me.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Have a fantastic summer, I can’t wait to get back to Bath!



The Last Hurdle

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hey everyone!
It is nearly over and I can’t believe it, where on earth have the last 10 months gone?! I have had a great time in Manchester and will be really sad to leave work next Thursday, although I do plan to come back for a few days here and there over the summer.
In terms of my project I am now further with my data analysis (Matlab still confuses me) but I have managed to analyse the data for 18 subjects.. with over 200 peak values per subject this took longer to organise than I originally thought! My personal aim was to collect and analyse a set of data for 20 subjects before I finished my placement. After next week I should hopefully have done this, I had a meeting with my supervisor earlier this week and he said that over the summer there may be an opportunity to publish some of my work, which is really exciting!
I am still waiting for two pairs of orthotics to arrive from Spain, they arrived last week but both of them had been manufactured wrong so had to be sent back. This setback has delayed testing the final subjects, alongside this the equipment I need has been fully booked as one of the gait labs is been refurbished from next week and won’t be back up and running until later in the year. They hopefully will arrive by the end of today and I will be able to slot the subjects in around everyone else before I leave next Thursday, I know I am going to be cutting it fine.
I have learnt so much from my placement but one thing that I think I learnt on day one (I guess I may have mentioned this before) is that research does not always go to plan straight away. This can be very stressful especially as unlike a regular 9-5 job in this environment you work to deadlines, so when one thing sets you back it has a knock on effect to many other factors. During my placement there has been such a strong emphasis on that ‘you get out what you put in’, I am now much more able to take responsibility for my own learning. I think this is going to be very beneficial in my final year of study and in my future career, especially if I stay on into post graduate education.
Alongside leaving my placement I will be sad to leave Manchester in general, I have made some friends for life here and as a city it is fantastic. I never thought as a country girl I would have so much fun in what I think is a massive place (my friends in London don’t really agree), I just love the fact that the city never stops and that there are always people around in the centre whatever time day or night.
In other news Manchester United won the premiership, that is also really exciting and I am thankful for the opportunities working at Old Trafford this year has given me! I mean Fergie knows who I am, how cool is that…
I will write my final blog the week after I finish, I will reflect on the most important things I have learnt and how this placement has affected my personal development.
Thanks for reading!


Maybe Podiatry is not the one!

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📥  Health

Hi everyone!
I know I start my blog like this every time but I wish time would slow down, I kind of wish I had a stop watch (one like Bernard had when I was younger) as it doesn’t seem two minutes since the last time I wrote and that was over a month ago. I am now officially an adult... It was lovely to meet up with some fellow Bath students for my 21st birthday and party in true Bath style! It did make me realise how much I miss uni and how long we have all been away. I never thought I would say this but I actually can’t wait to go to back to lectures & more importantly back to SCORE... (minus that Thursday feeling)!bernard2tv
Although I am really excited to get back to Bath & for the summer that does mean that my placement is coming to an end, with only 36 days left the saying 'so much to do and so little time' keeps playing on my mind. The past 10 months have been some of the best, I feel I have learnt so much and developed both academically and grown up as a person. Anyway enough of this it is making me sad about leaving as I am going to miss placement life so much!
I thought in this blog I would reflect on my career aspirations and how they have changed since I started my placement, the main reason why I came to Salford was to get a bigger insight into Podiatry. My career aspirations prior to placement was to go on to study this field on a second degree. I am really glad I choose to come and do this placement and I think that it has given me the insight I need whilst also allowing me to learn and develop many skills which are relevant and will be beneficially for the remainder of my degree.
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think that going on to study podiatry is the career path which I want to take. I do have an interest in most of the areas, however, personally I am not as interested in the clinical side of the job (corns, fungal infections & callus's are not what I want to be working with). The areas I am interested in can be approached from another direction - through research such as biomechanics. I do see myself staying in postgraduate education with my new plan to hopefully study a Masters and then my dream to go on to study a PhD.
This year has certainly done its job allowing me to work out if podiatry is for me and even though I have decided against it, my placement has been invaluable and I still have a keen interest in foot and ankle biomechanics and more so in gait analysis. I feel like I have got an insight into the life as a research student, I have fit-in perfectly and could imagine myself progressing further in this lifestyle. I am planning to have a discussion with my supervisor at Salford to see how to go about applying to Masters and PhD programs and to get more information about funding and in general the opportunities available. I need to see what different universities offer, for example, if I need to do a masters which I can’t get funding for will I need to work for a year to save up (although I know this answer already).
Back to the present… In terms of my project the start of my data collection went really smoothly and I've really enjoyed it, even though I have collected all of the data independently, It made me realise how much I love being in the lab and working with the subjects.  On placement I have been able to meet so many individuals, from all different backgrounds who approach things in different ways which is personally why I think I have learnt so much.
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'An example of designing the custom orthotic to fit the mesh which I made from the plaster casts of the feet'

Before I could start testing I had to design all of the custom orthotics to get them manufactured and I had to design a protocol. I sent off all of the designs for the custom orthotics in batches and with a delay due to the bank holiday I am now waiting for the last batch of 6 orthotics to arrive so I can test the final subjects. I am hoping these will arrive by the end of the week so I can fit the testing in asap, I have started slowly analysing the data using Matlab and have set myself a deadline of next Friday to get all of the pressure data analysed and hopefully to get some stats done. Then I will be on track, however, I can feel that next week is going to be a hard week especially with the Manchester derby on Monday (so once again wish me luck).
Life up north is still very enjoyable, although with the Easter holidays at the moment for the Manchester unis the student area where I live is like a ghost town, luckily the two girls I live with are dedicated to the cause and with 'dissertation-handings' looming, they have come back to Manchester and are working in the library so I am not on my own. Anyway I better get back to work, like I said 'so much to do - so little time!'

Nearly 21...

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi guys!

I can't believe it is the end of February this time is flying by, I am just about to embark on a very busy few weeks by the end of which I should hopefully have a pair of custom orthotics for each subject alongside having collected some pressure data.. fingers crossed.

I have started my data collection journey, so far I have (with the help of a podiatry student) taken a foam impression box of each of the participant’s feet. There are varying methods of taking the impression depending on the type of orthotic required. In my project participants were positioned seated with their hips and knees flexed at 90 degrees, they then are asked to rest one foot onto the foam box, the foot was then positioned into subtaler neutral and then pushed down into the foam to make the impression. This sounds very simple but does require quite a lot of effort to push the foot into the foam.

Tom showing me how to take a foam impression

Tom showing me how to take a foam impression

An example of a foam impression

An example of a foam impression

These impressions were then scanned using a 3D scanner from which I created a mesh of each foot, however due to various complications with software when trying to design the custom orthotic to fit the impression this resulted in a change of plan yesterday. The software was also in Spanish.. so if I ever am stuck in Spain I hope the words open, save, template and mesh will help me out! It was decided that filling the impressions with plaster and then scanning the plaster casts would provide a much better image with a lot less noise, due to the fact it will be like completing a 3D scan directly from a foot, I will then create a new mask for each participant from these scans. Yesterday I went in to the plaster room early before any lessons started and filled all of the foam boxes (I think I got just about as much plaster on me that actually went into the impressions). After the plaster had set I then had to sand and file the casts down which I then scanned as I did originally with the foam boxes. I am now in the process of designing the custom orthotics using the same Spanish software but it is working! My stress levels were pretty high yesterday and I had to keep calm as I had to ensure that the custom orthotics would be manufactured in time before easter as most of my subjects are undergraduate students, this should be all okay as everything is going to plan now so for the first time in a few days I am back to grinning like a cheshire cat!

I really enjoyed making the casts.. it was very messy though!

I really enjoyed making the casts.. it was very messy though

Some feet ready to be scanned

Some feet ready to be scanned

It kind of looks like something from a horror movie

In other news next week United are playing Real Madrid which I am very excited about (I am slowly turning into a football fan), I have a feeling there will be some big names in the box for that match! I noticed last night on my way home that Rooney was making an appearance in a book store in central Manchester,  people were going to extreme lengths to get into the store and try and get a photograph it was absolute chaos. I just strolled on past not even phased which made me realise that my position at United has also given me some amazing opportunities to meet people from varying backgrounds and in all different professions, whether that be part of the team working for United (footballers included) or clients who visit the box.

Doing an unpaid placement was a big worry of mine before I started in Manchester, I was worried that having to also work a part time job would mean I would be at work every day of the week which could almost ruin my placement year. However this has been the complete opposite mainly due to the flexibility of my placement, the fact that every day is different and the casual basis of my position at Old Trafford. My job role as a research fellow does not really entail the 9-5 set up, the added flexibility means that even if sometimes I am in the lab first thing in the morning at 7am or until 8pm on other days I can start at 11am when I have not got as much to do. If you are currently worrying about taking on an unpaid position, then no need to panic jthere are ways to work around it.. make sure you speak to your supervisor as early as possible and hopefully like mine they will be very understanding!

A week today I also turn 21 and I am super excited! I have booked the day of  and a few people are coming up to York for the weekend who I haven't seen since the end of 2nd year so it is going to be wild! I am sure I will update you in my next blog about how it goes and I will hopefully be near the end of my data collection.. wish me luck! 🙂



New Year Update...

📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi Guys!
Happy New Year to you all and I hope you all had a good one. I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. It is crazy to think I have been here for 6 months now! I was pretty busy in the run up to Christmas at both Salford and United, so having two weeks off whilst the uni was closed was a most welcome. It was good to get back to Yorkshire too, gods own county and all that…

It was nice to go back to the countryside over christmas!

It was nice to go back to the countryside over christmas!

For the first few weeks of January I was helping a PhD student in the lab, I can’t really say too much about the project, as it is a fairly new concept which is being kept ‘under wraps’, but it did involve motion analysis. I was using free standing cameras rather than the cameras fixed in the lab so it was a challenge in itself, setting the cameras up so that they could see the movement is fairly complex and it did cause a lot of stress, especially as, for one subject everything would run perfectly and then 30 minutes later in exactly the same set up everything would run far from perfect. However, after a lot of early mornings and large coffees, we did eventually overcome the challenge which allowed for some ‘good’ data to be collected and the last few days actually ran really smoothly.

Apart from the lab work, I have been putting a lot of planning into my study, this has ranged from making a gaant chart to work out the time scale of the project to emailing (what feels like hundreds) of potential subjects persuading them to basically come and walk in the lab for me. I never realised how much time and effort goes into planning and organising - before you can start thinking about data collection, even small things like the fact I had to find and buy 10 pairs of suitable trainers (I went for sport directs finest). My challenge for the start of Feb is too learn how to use ‘Matlab’, so that I am able to analyse my data, It took me long enough to install the programme on my laptop never mind attempt to use it, the girl who I got the software from left me a note with it which quite simply read ‘Welcome to hell’…

Buying ten pairs of the same trainers felt a little strange!

Buying ten pairs of the same trainers felt a little strange!

The project is well underway now with my hopes to start ‘casting feet’ for the custom orthotics in two weeks time. I am going to be working alongside an undergrad podiatry student called Tom who will help me out with the casting - this will not only benefit me with his podiatry knowledge and experience, but also gives him a chance to get more involved in the research side of things too. I went to meet him for the first time this morning and while I was waiting at Costa I did feel like I was going on a blind date! I am really excited to get the data collection underway and get back in the lab.

I thought in this blog I would write about some of the other challenges I have had to face since I started in July. You may remember from my previous blogs that I have spent a lot of time helping with a project, where the main researcher was based off site. We decided, at the end of September, that before Christmas we would have collected data from 25 subjects, whom I would recruit and organise for testing (which was challenging enough - with 4 separate sessions all completed in different labs).

I had to carry out the kinematic and pressure testing alongside another research fellow and then I did some foot scans. The idea of been in charge of collecting this data, at this early stage in my placement was fairly challenging in itself, but I also had to organize when the subjects would come to each testing session (working around other lab bookings) and dealing with the researcher, who was based off-site and who has only had 9 days in England since September. This meant that at times I had to make some crucial decisions on the project and when a few things started to go wrong I had to take responsibility and keep calm! After we had collected the data, I had to send four data sets from each subject to Ireland for analysis, without losing any data and keeping the information confidential etc. From this whole process I have learned that good communication and organisational skills are vital, whether this is done over skype/telephone/email or between me and my supervisor in person.
Another important thing I have learnt so far is that research does not always go to plan straight away. Everything may make perfect sense on paper, but in the lab it is a ‘whole new ball game’. If you are looking at going into a research related placement, this may be a good thing to take on board, perseverance is vital and a positive outlook will get you further (and less stressed) than a negative one!



All for the love of feet...

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📥  Health, Uncategorized

Hi Guys

I thought I would write this blog entry based more around how I ended up here, my placement is similar to others on my course, linked to my job and the environment I am working in, but the main subject area is slightly different in some respects. Working as a research fellow at the University of Salford has really allowed me to put my skills already developed at Bath to practical use alongside helping me to learn new skills and work with different equipment. I'm working in the foot and ankle biomechanics department, meaning that everything is very feet related… to some people I imagine this would be their worst nightmare, but for some reason it is a big interest of mine which is why I think I am enjoying my time here so much!

I guess that when it came to looking for placements I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do, podiatry had always been a career aspiration, even before applying to Bath, but I still applied to a variety of placements ranging from working in a school to performance analysis, I even got offered a couple but I still wasn’t sure (now I know I made the right decision).

I was not sure whether I would find a placement linked to podiatry, I did a lot of research and worked out that if I went to work in a private practice I would probably take on the roll of receptionist so to speak (stereotypical intern.. making the tea) as I am not qualified. The idea of working in a research environment came from one of my lecturers, this would allow me to get hands on experience working on a variety of projects and also work alongside some podiatrists - bettering both my sport science and podiatry understanding. I did my research and got in touch with my supervisor here at Salford explaining what I wanted to do, he invited me for an ‘interview’ and it went from there. Thats how I ended up here in Manchester (as a bonus my supervisor might be able to organise some work 'shadowing', for me in the new year).

What I'm trying to say is, that if you are currently thinking about doing/looking for a placement then always try to find one which interests you. There is such a wide range of placements organised by Bath that to most people this won’t be an issue (it may even become tempting to just go and do something that you don’t really care that much about) but if, like me, you have a different interest, then do pursue it, it is worth it! I think the main aim of my placement is to work out what I would like to do in the future. Whether this is to go and study podiatry after I graduate or whether I want to carry on my education and complete a masters, hopefully at some point before the end of my placement I will know which route I want to take.

Anyway back to my placement, since my first blog I have been really busy developing an idea for my own study which should be underway in the new year. As a general overview of the project I will be looking at 'the effect of foot orthoses' and whether there is a significant difference between the effects of prefabricated and custom made during the walking gait cycle. There is a large debate about this in the literature which has been ongoing over the last few years, so I feel this is an important research issue to approach. I am also excited about learning to make custom orthotics, using two different methods and some very expensive equipment such as CAD-CAM software (I always knew making that plastic perfume bottle in year 9 using CAD-CAM would come in useful). I will be collecting kinematic data using a 16 camera Qualisys system alongside a Pedar in-shoe pressure system which I have already become competent using.

Just some of the orthoses I have been working with.. it is pretty easy to get confused which is which!

I have been pretty busy lately, last week at one point I had done 42 hours in three days trying to balance both placement and my job at United (leaving the house at 6:45am, leaving placement at 6pm, then going straight to United 7-2am for three days running is pretty tough, but I do like a challenge!). I also bumped into Fergie in a lift and he knew my name, which made me happy!

I still have a few tasks to do up until Christmas; these include reviewing some literature, planning my protocol and applying for ethics, along with the christmas work do, obviously!


I cannot believe how fast the time has gone, Manchester is full of Christmas cheer with the German markets scattered all over town and a massive ice skating rink. The fact that I walk past them is turning into a bit of a problem, a hog roast/mulled wine every couple of days is not doing wonders for me or my bank balance!

Merry Christmas everyone!


Life as a research fellow

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📥  Health

Hi guys!

Welcome to my blog, I have never done anything like this before so let’s see how this goes! My name is Emily Gregg and I am currently on placement in the Foot and Ankle Biomechanics Department at the University of Salford in Manchester. I have been here since the start of July and so far I am really enjoying it! A lot of my friends are in London with a few in Australia but as a northerner by heart I knew Manchester would serve well as a placement destination, although I am not going to lie I think I will have grown by the end of my placement with all of this rain! I was a little nervous and did feel like a fresher again when I first arrived as I didn’t know many people at all, but after lunch on my first day I knew I was going to be absolutely fine. I have met so many people already from all different backgrounds both at placement and outside, a few I know will be friends for life.

I had a bit of a rocky start to my time here as I snapped and dislocated one off my fingers which meant that I needed surgery twice to have it pinned with a couple of wires, so had to be back and forth from York fairly often for the first couple of weeks. This never really affected my placement which was a relief and within my first week I was thrown in at the deep end and straight in the lab.

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Snapping your finger is not a clever idea (especially not your wedding ring finger)!

I applied to the department as I am really interested in feet (yeah I know this slightly weird). My placement is slightly different to most of those on my course and is much more podiatry and health related. It does mean that I get to use and better my sport science knowledge already learnt already at Bath but I also have started to get an insight into podiatry with my main aim of the year to know which path I would like to take after I graduate.

I am working as a research fellow and since I arrived I have been really busy helping with a wide variety of projects ranging from a study focussing on Achilles tendon strain to the effect of high heeled shoes on foot function. I have also helped with testing for a shoe company which has given me an insight into footwear research and shoe design. Randomly I pretended to be a fresher again and joined in with labs learning how to plaster cast alongside the prosthetic and orthotic undergrads and got asked to carry out some ultrasound testing for a study looking at the effects of obesity.

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All markered up ready for testing

One main study that I helped on, when I first arrived, focussed on the effects of muscle fatigue on rear foot pronation during running. I collected data using motion analysis and EMG. This allowed me to not only get to grips with collecting data in the lab but also gave me a chance to use various programs for data analysis. Over the last two months I have been working alongside a researcher from Ireland who is focussing on why people respond differently to foot orthotics, as the protocol for this project is very complex with various parts I helped organise and collect all of the kinematic and in-shoe pressure data for him alongside taking 3D scans of each subjects feet. I have really enjoyed this responsibility although I did feel like I was living in the lab for a couple of weeks, however all that hard work paid off and we are just about finished the first batch of subjects.

I had a meeting with my supervisor yesterday and we started to plan my own project which is really exciting, so that should be up and running in the New Year! I will tell more about that in my next blog.

I haven’t had the chance to meet any athletes on placement like some people on my course, but outside of placement I am also working as a VIP waitress at Manchester United - working in a private box on match days and meeting some players and Sir Alex is not all that bad!

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Not a bad view of the pitch!

Thanks for reading!


Assisting a revolution of the rugby analysis

📥  Health

In this post, I am going to talk about one of the PhD student's study: The biomechanics of rugby kicking.

Before starting, I think it is important to define some key words for those of you who aren’t in the sports science field. Biomechanics is the study of the forces acting on a body or object (a ball for example) and the effects produced by these forces. More precisely, kinematics focuses on the description of the motion of a body while kinetics explains how those movements are created.

In this post, I am going to talk about one of the PhD student's study: The biomechanics of rugby kicking. Alex will measure the kinetics and kinematics of kicking of international rugby players as well as provide a mathematical model of the rugby ball trajectory after a kick. This latter element should predict if the ball will go through the rugby posts after having being kicked by a player. Ideally, it would be like the software used in tennis to verify the exact location of the landing of a ball on the court.

The software actually used in tennis

I have been assisting in a number of testing sessions so far. During an outdoor session on the rugby pitch, 30 kicks performed by a university player were recorded by five cameras (including high speed cameras). My role was particular important on that day as I had to press "record" and "stop" on 30 different occasions (Hardtimeforplacementstudent). These data are necessary to investigate the ball trajectory and verify where the ball actually lands. It was also important to take into consideration environmental conditions (weather conditions, gravity, air resistance). These measurements will subsequently be included in her final mathematical model.

Setting the cameras Setting the cameras

However our main testing sessions have been carried out in a lab using a very sophisticated software called "Vicon Motus" which is composed of 11 cameras placed at particular location synchronized with a force plate (An instrument measuring the forces that a body/object apply on the floor). It works in combination with a number of reflective markers located on special anatomical landmarks and/or other material, in this case the rugby ball. When the actions are executed, for example a rugby kick, the cameras track the markers’ displacements and the movements are recreated by the software. Another  study was performed on International Rugby players in order to practice and test the set-up and equipment which also provided some technical data to their coach. If you were wondering how it is possible to kick inside the lab with some very expensive material, a net is used to stop the ball.

In the lab using Vicon

I am more involved in helping out during the testing session rather than the actual analysis of the data but I enjoy taking part in this project.What has been done so far is considered as a preparation but the best is expected to come with the main participants coming later on during the year.

Hard job!



Placement at St Mary's University, Twickenham


📥  Health

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog.

St Mary's university in the sun[]

As you can read in the title I am actually spending the year at St Mary's University College which is approximately one hour away from where I live in London. Here my responsibilities are very various and differ everyday. I am based in an office with three PhD student in biomechanics and physiology; Alex (who was also at the University of Bath a couple of years ago), Adam and Danny (spanish - So pleased to have an international fellow). For those of you who wonder what they are actually doing all day, it's simple: Reading millions of paper, testing participants and teaching sometimes. My role is to assist and help out with some of their testing. I also get to design/perform my own little study which seemed to be clear and straightforward at the beginning and actually proves to get more complicated and interesting as you progress . I've also started to do some physiology testing. Oh, and I am really good at making tea now!

Video analysis on a rubgy pitch

Video analysis on a rubgy pitch

Adam performing a VO2 max test

Adam performing a VO2 max test

I will post further information later on, on particular aspects of my placement.

Thank you for reading this, please leave a comment if you have any question.

See you soon

Mathilde, Sports Science Placement Student.


Welcome to the Placements blog in the Department for Health

📥  Health

This blog is intended for students on their placements to document and share their experiences and for the opportunity to win a prize for the best blog in the Faculty at the end of the academic year.  To contribute to this blog you will need to e-mail to be added as as a contributor.

Best wishes
The Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences
Marketing Team