ETH Zurich

PhD Position in Digital Health Technologies for Remote and Unsupervised Rehabilitation

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PhD Position in Digital Health Technologies for Remote and Unsupervised Rehabilitation

The Rehabilitation Engineering Lab (RELab) at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich is an interdisciplinary group with competencies in mechanical and electrical engineering, movement science, neurorehabilitation and neuroscience. The RELab uses robotics, wearable sensor technologies, and non-invasive neuroimaging to explore, assess and restore sensorimotor function in persons with neurological injury, to promote sensorimotor recovery and independence.  

Together with the Centre for Digital Health Interventions (CDHI, a joint initiative of the Institute of Implementation Science in Health Care at the University of Zurich, the Institute of Technology Management and School of Medicine at the University of St.Gallen, and the Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zurich), the RELab is working on developing an AI-based digital tool to support unsupervised and remote technology-assisted rehabilitation after neurological injuries, intending to revisit current neurorehabilitation models. In this framework, we are opening a PhD position to develop and clinically evaluate this platform in close collaboration with leading clinical and industrial partners across Switzerland. We are looking for a candidate that can start as soon as possible (tentatively January 2023). The PhD student will be co-supervised by the RELab and the CDHI.

Project background

The dose of rehabilitation therapy patients receive after a neurological injury (e.g., traumatic brain injury or stroke) is limited due to a lack of solutions for quality remote, unsupervised rehabilitation once discharged from the hospital. As a result, most patients are left with remaining upper limb impairments that negatively affect their quality of life. 

The RELab strongly focuses on developing and clinically applying robotic and sensor-based technologies for unsupervised and remote rehabilitation. However, this therapy setup raises important challenges, for example, in terms of motivation to train and monitoring of the progress.

Therefore, this project aims to develop and implement a novel smartphone-based digital platform to support remote and unsupervised rehabilitation and to test it in different neurological populations. This project will use MobileCoach, an open-source software platform for behavioural digital health interventions developed by the CHDI, which was already successfully applied for digital interventions in other populations.

As a doctoral student in this project, you will collect evidence and clinicians’ and patients’ opinions to specify the required characteristics of the digital tool. You will then implement and develop the platform before validating it through clinical trials.

Job description

Your tasks will include:

  • Get familiar with the technologies developed at the RELab and the CDHI and the evidence collected so far in our previous studies.
  • Define the requirements for the digital platform based on literature as well as on clinicians’ and patients’ opinions, optimizing it for different neurological populations.
  • Implement a prototype of the digital platform (building on the MobileCoach template) and connect it to existing rehabilitation devices developed at the RELab. 
  • Establish and validate a method to integrate the digital platform into the rehabilitation routine of patients and therapists and develop AI-based algorithms for increasing motivation and rehabilitation monitoring.
  • Plan and coordinate the conduction of clinical studies to evaluate the digital platform, including the interaction with patients and clinicians.
  • Communication of research outcomes at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.

Your profile

You will have:

  • A Master’s degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Information Systems, Informatics, or related fields.
  • Experience with software engineering and, in particular, mobile application development (Java, Javascript/React Native). Prior experience with the MobileCoach open-source software would be an advantage.
  • Willingness to work with patients and clinicians and strong interest in neurorehabilitation, healthcare, and digital technologies in healthcare.
  • Scientific curiosity and motivation to perform scientifically rigorous experimental work.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Independence and “get things done mentality”.
  • Self-starter attitude, self-motivation, and independent learning, and not afraid to develop and test novel ideas.
  • First-rate oral and written English skills and an interest in writing are required. Proficiency in German is a plus but not a requirement.
  • Willingness to improve your experience with teaching and supporting student projects.

We offer

  • A unique and stimulating work environment within a strong and very motivated team.
  • Collaborations with clinicians and industries.
Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Cover letter outlining your motivation and experience in the field.
  • CV including certificates (e.g., Master's and/or Bachelor's degree).
  • Transcript of records.

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory (RELab) can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr Olivier Lambercy, email (no applications).

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.


PhD Position in Digital Health Technologies for Remote and Unsupervised Rehabilitation
Rämistrasse 101 Zúrich, Suiza
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