I am investigating the use of body illusions as a method to help people understand pain as a protective perception. Body illusions can be used to directly modulate pain, but they also make an engaging, interactive tool for explaining how perception is formed in the brain and how this relates to pain. This can be especially beneficial for people living with persistent pain and their support networks.

I hope that my research can help people with persistent pain to improve their wellbeing by enhancing their understanding of body perception and the brain’s mental map of the body.

Many people understandably think that pain indicates damage to their body, but it’s actually much more nuanced than that: pain means that the brain has concluded that the body is in potential danger.

Reconceptualising this and its implications can alter people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours relating to pain, and often result in greater wellbeing.

Benefiting from world-leading expertise

Clinicians at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre have provided important insights on communicating information about pain with patients. Having delivered suggestions about how to integrate body illusions into this process, we will receive feedback and develop our approach.

The training that I have been able to access through the National Rehabilitation Centre has been fantastic and I will continue to use this expertise throughout my PhD.

As a doctoral researcher at Loughborough, I will gain a breadth of technical and transferrable skills, which will enable me to become a competent researcher and navigate through the world of academia. I will gain a depth of information about rehabilitation and body representations, whilst broadening my knowledge of neuroscience, physiology, education, and psychology.

My supervisor and everyone that I have met in SSEHS have been friendly, welcoming and helpful in my first few weeks as a PhD student. Finding out about the equipment available and studies taking place to aid rehabilitation has been really exciting.

Access to the experience and expertise of academic staff and facilities at the National Rehabilitation Centre, as well as the opportunity to work with people who require rehabilitation, will be greatly beneficial for my projects and experiments.

Creating impactful research

In the future I would like to continue to contribute to the scientific community through well-designed, clinically relevant studies. I love to see the difference that research can have on individuals’ lives.

The advice I would give to someone thinking of undertaking a PhD at Loughborough is once you become a doctoral researcher, the opportunities for personal and professional development are vast. It’s a great opportunity, so if you find a topic that you are genuinely interested in, go for it.

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