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Rebecca Blyth

Thesis Title

Head acceleration during a purposeful header: what factors contribute to this and how can we train these successfully to reduce head acceleration in female soccer players as a potential concussion prevention tool

Areas of Study

  • Concussion
  • Female Athletes
  • Neck strengthening
  • Head acceleration
  • Heading the ball in soccer


Primary supervisor: Dr Gisela Sole, Associate Professor, Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
Secondary supervisors: Dr Olivia Galea, Lecturer, CHARR, School of Physiotherapy
Associate Professor Mel Bussey, School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science
Advisor: Dr Osman Ahmed Visiting Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth, UK

Educational Background

  • 2015: Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy), Auckland University of Technology
  • 2018: Post Graduate Certificate in Physiotherapy endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • 2019: Post Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • 2020: Master of Physiotherapy endorsed in Sports Physiotherapy, University of Otago


  • Blyth, R., Alcock, M. & Tumilty, S. (2021). Why are female footballers experiencing a concussion more often than their male counterparts? A scoping review. Physical Therapy in Sport, 52, 54-68. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2021.08.001
  • Blyth, R. & Tumilty, S. (2020). Why are female footballers getting concussed more often than their male counterparts? A scoping review protocol. Physical Therapy Reviews. doi: 10.1080/10833196.2020.1819073
  • Ellis, R., Blyth, R., Arnold, N. & Miner-Williams, W. (2017). Is there a relationship between impaired median nerve excursion and carpal tunnel syndrome? A systematic review. Journal of Hand Therapy, 30, 3-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2016.09.002

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2022 University of Otago Doctorate Scholarship
  • 2020 University of Otago Coursework Masters Scholarship
  • 2020 University of Otago Council Commendation for Exceptional Performance (PHTY610)
  • 2019 Mark Steptoe Memorial Prize
  • 2015 Equal Top Overall Student Through 4 Year BHSc (Physiotherapy, AUT)
  • 2015 Kate Edger Educational Charitable Trust Practicum Award
  • 2011 AUT Significant Student Scholarship

Why did you choose Otago?

After completing my undergraduate degree at AUT and working in private practice for two years the post-grad qualifications in sports physiotherapy and OMT at Otago University grabbed my attention. During my Masters, I had fantastic support from the staff at the school of physiotherapy and following my research project my supervisor Steve Tumilty encouraged me to embark on my PhD and was a great support during the development of my proposal. Living in Auckland, I have found the distance options provided by Otago have worked out well.

Best things about study

Being able to study in an area I am passionate about is a real privilege, having played a lot of football, I am hoping to make a difference in the sport and the safety of our female athletes. I love the opportunity to gain new knowledge and enjoy being able to transfer this into my clinical practice.