Start main page content

The Movement Physiology Research Lab

The MPRL consists of a vibrant and dynamic research team. We believe that exercise plays an essential role in treating, and even preventing, chronic diseases of lifestyle such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis. We are also interested in gaining knowledge about the diseases which limit exercise and movement. As such, our research focuses on exercise and physical activity as a lifestyle tool to improve the health of South Africans, both young and old.

The MPRL is also involved in the study and assessment of performance in both recreational and elite athletes. Our research focus in this regard is concerned with golfing performance (the drive and putt), cricket (fast bowling and batting), rugby performance (passing, kicking and scrumming) and performance in a variety of other sports (e.g. ballet, horse riding and road running). We offer a professional and scientific assessment of performance and recommend training programs to improve performance.

Projects on Offer

A PhD in the Science of Rugby Scrumming Performance

A PhD is offered for a driven student with a competent academic record in the science of rugby scrumming performance. Rugby Union is a sport of worldwide appeal, but despite this, little research has investigated the drivers of rugby performance. In the proposed PhD, projects may include: changes in scrumming technique with experience or other intrinsic/extrinsic factors; the changes in scrumming technique with increasing proficiency; the relationship between individual scrumming kinetics and 8 man scrum force generation; the changes in scrumming technique and force generation with different footwear and on different surfaces.

Supervised by Prof W McKinon and colleagues

A PhD in the Biomechanics and Physiology of Human Balance

A PhD is offered for a driven student with a competent academic record in the field of the biomechanics and physiology of human balance. To date much remains unknown about the drivers of human balance, which might be attributable to the poor level of accuracy achievable by current methods of estimating the location of the human centre of gravity. In the proposed PhD new methods of determining whole body centre of mass will be assess and then the ability to control the human centre of mass (CoM) using different physiological systems will be studied. . In the proposed PhD, projects may include: The agreement between gold standard physical and different kinematic models of CoM; assessing the agreement between different kinematic estimates of CoM and kinetic centre of pressure movement in different populations; circadian variation in the biomechanics and the physiological factors determining human balance ability.

Supervised by Prof W McKinon and colleagues

MSc Degree (by dissertation)

MSc degrees (by dissertation) in the Science of Rugby Scrumming Performance and the Biomechanics and Physiology of Human Balance will also be offered to cover the same (or related) topics as those described in the larger, PhD projects (above).

Msc or PhD - Prevalence of RLS and PLM in South African population

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements (PLM) are related neurological disorders presenting with spontaneous sensory and motor activity. The aetiology of these disorders is unknown but genetics appear to play a role in the pathogenesis. The reported prevalence of RLS and PLM is approximately 10% of the general population however epidemiological studies have primarily focused on Western (mainly Caucasian) societies. There are no prevalence statistics for the incidence of RLS and PLM in a South African population. Determining the African prevalence of RLS and PLM may assist in determining the aetiology. 

Please contact Dr Sam Kerr (Samantha.kerr@wits.ac.za) for further details.

Msc or PhD - Physical activity, sleep and cardiometabolic health in neurological disorders

Neurological disorders are one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Patients with the often age-related neurological disorders namely, Parkinson’s disease (PD), Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are challenged by significant sleep disorders, cognitive impairment, fatigue, compromised quality of life and physical disability. Little is known on the improvements of cardiometabolic health, quality of life and attenuation of disease-specific symptoms in response to habitual physical activity or exercise participations in adults with PD, RLS and MS, particularly in a South African (SA) context. Thus, this project will investigate the effects of physical activity and sleep disturbance on parameters of fatigue, cognition, physical and motor functions and cardiometabolic parameters in the neurological conditions; PD, RLS and MS.

Please contact Dr Sam Kerr (Samantha.kerr@wits.ac.za) for further details.

Share