School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Dr Tom Paulson

Photo of Dr Tom Paulson

Research Associate & Sport Scientist GB Wheelchair Rugby

Tom has been working in the field of exercise physiology and sports performance for more than 6 years, with a particular interest in Paralympic Sport and the use of sport and exercise to promote health and well-being in populations with a physical impairment.

He completed his BSc in Sport Science & Geography (1st class Hons) in 2009 at Loughborough University and went on to study for an MSc in Exercise Physiology (Distinction) in 2010, also as at Loughborough. Between 2010-2013 Tom worked with the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport to complete his Ph.D. entitled ‘Supporting the prescription of exercise in spinal cord injured populations: ratings of perceived exertion and inflammation-mediating plasma cytokines’.

Tom is a Professional member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) and contributes to the European Research Group in Disability Sport (ERGiDS).

Tom’s main research interests focus on the prescription and quantification of training load for sport and exercise as well as the optimisation of athletic performance by novel recovery and preparation interventions.

Current research interests include:

  • The use of ratings of perceived exertion for the prescription and regulation of upper limb exercise training (co-supervisor for PhD student Mike Hutchinson).
  • The quantification of training load for indoor court-based sports and the application of a radio frequency-based indoor tracking system.
  • Functional electrical stimulation (FES) training to promote and skin-health in athletes with a spinal cord injury.
  • Recovery interventions and performance in Paralympic athletes.
  • Development of lab, gym and field based tools for physiological/performance profiling in wheelchair sports.
  • Immuno-endocrine and plasma cytokine responses to upper limb exercise modalities.

In addition to his research activity, Tom works as a Sport Science practitioner for GB Wheelchair Rugby. He is responsible for the strategic development and applied delivery of Sports Science Support specific to Wheelchair Rugby, including:

1) Developing understanding of the physiological development requirements of wheelchair rugby athletes.

2) Developing and refining field, gym and laboratory based performance testing protocols.

3) Undertaking sport specific research and innovation in the areas of athlete health and well-being, wheelchair configuration, thermoregulation in athletes with a cervical SCI. 

4) Developing and implementing player review and individual development strategies within the multi-disciplinary support staff.

Tom is a Professional member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) and contributes to the European Research Group in Disability Sport (ERGiDS).

Book Chapters

  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V., Paulson, T., Paulson-Graham, T. (2015) Practical considerations for fluid replacement for athletes with a spinal cord injury. In Meyer, F (ed) Fluid Balance, Hydration and Athletic Performance.

Journal articles

  • Paulson, T., Goosey-Tolfrey, V., Leicht, C., Bishop, N. (2015) Plasma cytokine and exertional responses in relation to exercise intensity and volume of exercising muscle mass during arm-crank ergometry. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and metabolism, 40(8), 782-787.
  • Bakkum, A., Paulson, T., Bishop, N., Goosey-Tolfrey, V. et al. (2015) Effects of hybrid cycle and handcycle exercise on cardiovascular disease risk factors in people with spinal cord injury: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 47(6), 523-530.
  • Paulson, T., Bishop, N., Smith, B. Goosey-Tolfrey, V. (2014) Inflammation-mediating cytokine response to acute handcycling exercise with/without functional electrical stimulation-evoked lower limb cycling. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(4), 645-654.
  • Goosey-Tolfrey, V., Paulson, T., Tolfrey, K., Eston, R. (2014)Prediction of peak oxygen uptake from differentiated ratings of perceived exertion during wheelchair propulsion in trained wheelchair sports persons. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 114(6), 1251-1258.
  • Paulson, T., Bishop, N., Eston, R., Goosey-Tolfrey, V. (2013) Differentiated perceived exertion and self-regulated wheelchair exercise. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94(11), 2269-2276.
  • Paulson, T., Goosey-Tolfrey, V., Lenton, J., Leicht, C., Bishop, N. Spinal cord injury level and the circulating cytokine response to strenuous exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45(9), 1649-1655.
  • Paulson, T., Bishop, N., Leicht, C., Goosey-Tolfrey, V. (2013) Perceived exertion as a tool to self-regulate exercise in individuals with tetraplegia. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 113(1), 201-209.
  • Leicht, C., Bishop, N., Paulson, T., Griggs, K., Goosey-Tolfrey, V. (2012) Salivary immunoglobulin A and upper respiratory symptoms during 5 months of training in elite tetraplegic athletes. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 7(3) 210-217.