Project Details

University of Birmingham Icon


Dr Davinia Fernández-Espejo

Project area or title

Developing non-invasive brain stimulation interventions for neurorehabilitation after acquired brain injury


Acquired brain injury (ABI) accounts for 1.4 million hospital visits annually in England and Wales, 35,000 of which are children. Many of those affected develop long-term sequelae including motor and cognitive deficits, functional changes (e.g., irritability, fatigue), and poor mental health. These deficits can have a profound effect in the patients’ wellbeing, relationships, employability, and ability to lead an independent life, or in the case of children, their ability to self-care, socialise or do well in school. Recent years have seen increasing interest in the application of non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) methods to aid neurorehabilitation interventions across an array of clinical conditions. While the results have been promising in certain clinical groups (e.g., stroke), the field lacks a good understanding of the mechanisms of action of the different NIBS techniques, how to optimise the different parameters (e.g., dosage, duration, target) to maximise efficacy, or how to best stratify patients for different interventions. This PhD project will focus on developing mechanistically informed NIBS protocols to support rehabilitation after ABI. Depending on the candidate’s interest, there is scope to focus on specific cognitive / motor functions, mental health / wellbeing outcomes, and patient groups. Similarly the project may focus on different NIBS methods, including transcranial direct current stimulation (TMS), transcranial electrical stimulation (tES), or transcranial focused ultrasound stimulation (tFUS). There is also scope to include magnetic resonance imaging to study the mechanisms of action of our intervention and identify markers that predict whether a particular patient is likely to respond.


Physical Health and Mental Health Multimorbidity


University of Birmingham

Specific Project Eligibility