Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Team members

Tom Paulson

Dr Tom Paulson

Research Associate in Sport Performance and Health and Wellbeing

Tel +44 (0)1509 226387


  • MSc (Distinction) in Exercise Physiology, Loughborough University (2010) 
  • BSc (First class Hons) in Sports Science and Geography, Loughborough University (2009)
  • PhD in Exercise Physiology entitled ‘ Supporting the prescription of exercise in spinal cord injured populations: Ratings of perceived exertion and inflammation-mediating plasma cytokines.'

Membership and involvement with professional bodies / associations

Member of the International Society of Exercise and Immunology.

Current research interests

Tom has recently completed his PhD entitled: ‘Supporting the prescription of exercise in spinal cord injured populations: rating of perceived exertion and inflammation-mediating plasma cytokines’. In the process, Tom completed research projects with both elite level wheelchair athletes (GB wheelchair rugby & basketball) and recreationally active, community based participants. The main aims of his research were to: 1) explore the use of subjective RPE as a tool for the self-regulation of wheelchair exercise;  and 2) to examine the effect of spinal cord injury level and exercise modality on the hormonal and health protective immune responses to acute exercise.

Following the completion of his PhD, Tom has taken up a Research Associate position at the PHC, with the primary responsibility of providing applied physiological support to the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby squad. Key roles with include:

  • The provision of sport specific physiological testing;
  • The identification of classification specific ‘benchmarks’ for wheelchair rugby performance in the elite and development squads;
  • The implementation of individualised training and support packages for the GB elite squad. 

Previous research and experience

Tom joined up with Christof Leicht from the Peter Harrison Centre  for his MSc project tracking immune function and infection incidence in the 2010/2011 Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby squad.

He has also contributed to the physiological support testing for both the GB wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby squads.

Selected recent keynote and conference presentations

  • ‘The circulating cytokine response to voluntary upper-limb exercise with/without the addition of functional electrical stimulation (FES)-evoked lower-limb contractions’ – 11th Annual Symposium of the Internal Society of Exercise Immunology. 
  • Perceived exertion as a tool to self-regulate exercise elite wheelchair athletes with tetraplegia’ – UK High Performance Conference for Paralympic Sports Science and Sports Medicine. May 2013.
  • ‘Releasing the anti-inflammatory potential of paralysed skeletal muscle: a novel approach to functional electrical stimulation (FES)-evoked lower limb contractions’ – MASCIP; November 2012.
  • The effect of spinal cord injury on circulating inflammatory cytokine responses to wheelchair propulsive exercise’ – International Spinal Cord Society; September 2012.
  • ‘Perceived exertion as a tool to self-regulate exercise in individuals with tetraplegia’ – International Convention of Science, Education and Medicine In Sport; July 2012.

Selected recent publications

  • Willems, A., Paulson, T.A.W., Keli, M., Brooke Wavell, K.S.F. & Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. (2015). Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, skinfold thickness and waist circumference for assessing body composition in ambulant and non-ambulant wheelchair games players. Frontiers of Physiology, 6, 356.
  • Paulson T.A.W., Goosey-Tolfrey V.L., Leicht C.A., & Bishop N.C.(in press). Plasma cytokine and exertional responses in relation to exercise intensity and volume of exercising muscle mass during arm-crank ergometry. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 
  • Paulson, T.A.W., Bishop, N.C., Eston, R.G. & Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2013). Differentiated perceived exertion and self-regulated wheelchair exercise. Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, (Epub ahead of print).
  • Paulson, T.A.W., Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L., Lenton, J.P., Leicht, C.A. & Bishop, N.C. (2013). Spinal cord injury level and the circulating cytokine response to strenuous exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(9), 1649-1655.
  • Paulson TAW, Bishop NC, Leicht CA and Goosey-Tolfrey VL. (2012). Perceived exertion as a tool to self-regulate exercise in individuals with tetraplegia. Eur J Appl Physiol.  (DOI: 10.1007/s00421-012-2426-5).