Dr Nicola R Heneghan

Dr Nicola R Heneghan

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Physiotherapy Lecturer, Programme Leader MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy

Contact details

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Nicola is a Physiotherapy Lecturer, Programme Leader MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy and HCPC Lead for Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing.


  • PhD University of Birmingham
  • MSc Neuromusculoskeletal Physiotherapy, University College London, 2008
  • PG Cert HE, Coventry University, 2001
  • Graduate Diploma Physiotherapy, New Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge, 1998


Nicola qualified with a Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy from New Addenbrooke’s Hospital School of Physiotherapy in 1988. Nicola subsequently spent a number of years in clinical practice applying and developing her knowledge and skills in the fields of respiratory and musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Having spent time working in the UK and Canada she set up and managed a very successful Private Practice in the Lake District for 7 years.

In 1997 Nicola returned to University to complete her MSc at University College London, where she was awarded the Stanmore Prize for her research exploring the relationship between thoracic motion and breathing.

In 2000 Nicola took up a Senior lecturers post at Coventry University, where she completed her PG Cert HE as well as developed her teaching skills. Nicola moved to University of Birmingham in 2004 to continue her professional development and develop her research interests. In addition to her teaching commitments on the MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy programme, Nicola was awarded a studentship to pursue her research exploring the musculoskeletal changes in chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD), completing her PhD in 2013.


Nicola's involvement in teaching, learning and supervision encompasses the subject areas of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, manipulative therapy, and respiratory dysfunction in COPD. Her involvement is focused to the postgraduate programmes, particularly managing and teaching on the MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy programme,  Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing and supervising PhD/ MRes and postgraduate MSc students. Nicola also contributes to the following programmes:


·         Practice Certificate in Independent Prescribing

Postgraduate supervision

Nicola is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

Musculoskeletal physiotherapy, particularly thoracic spine dysfunction (in musculoskeletal conditions, and respiratory disease)

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Nicola on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.   

Current PhD supervisions include:

  • Clinical reasoning in musculoskeletal physiotherapy
  • Implicit motor imagery and back pain


Human Movement and Rehabilitation

Research Activity

Nicola has published >30 original peer reviewed articles in peer review articles in professional journals, delivered >20 research focused conference oral / poster presentations at national / international conferences.

Nicola’s programme of musculoskeletal physiotherapy research encompasses the following strands:

Thoracic musculoskeletal dysfunction in neck pain (PI)

Based on an emergent programme of research: survey of current UK practice, systematic review evaluating thoracic musculoskeletal dysfunction in WAD, pilot project investigating thoracic musculoskeletal dysfunction in WAD.

Physiotherapy rehabilitation post lumbar discectomy (co-applicant) Phase III trial in collaboration with MDS, Oxford Surgical Trials Unit, Manchester Metropolitan University, and 7 clinical sites.

Physiotherapy stratified rehabilitation post lumbar spinal fusion (co-applicant) Prospective cohort observation study evaluating prognostic factors indicative of poor clinical outcome using the British Spine Registry and equivalent databases in collaborating countries (Netherlands and Switzerland). Results will inform stratified care physiotherapy intervention.

Case study: Effective rehabilitation following lumbar spinal surgery

Case study: Thoracic spine dysfunction in musculoskeletal presentations

Lumbar spine research collaboration with the English Institute of Sport (co-applicant) Collaboration focused to investigating key issues in the assessment and rehabilitation of spinal (lumbar and thoracic) dysfunction in elite athletes.

Other activities

  • Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • Education Lead for the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • Alternate MO delegate for International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT)
  • Reviewer of articles submitted for publication to the following journals: Manual Therapy, Gait and Posture, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Patient Education and Counseling, Physical Therapy in Sport, Journal of Biomechanics, Physiotherapy, International Journal of COPD 
  • Reviewer of research proposals submitted to the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, NIHR HTA, and RfPB programmes 
  • Reviewer of papers submitted for presentation at WCPT and IFOMPT conferences 
  • Trial Steering Group membership 
  • NIHR CAIP Mentor



Tyros I, Soundy AA, Heneghan NR Inter-rater reliability of the tuning fork when measuring vibration threshold on a radial nerve distribution in WADII. Manual Therapy Manual Therapy. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2016.06.006 JIF 1.869

Jensen Grødahl L, Fawcett L, Nazareth M, Smith R, Spencer S, Heneghan N, Rushton A (2016)Diagnostic utility of patient history and physical examination data to detect spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis in athletes with low back pain: a systematic review. Manual Therapy. 24: 7-17 DOI:10.1016/j.math.2016.03.011 JIF 1.869

Koenders N, Rushton A, Heneghan N, Verra ML, Willems P, Hoogeboom T, Staal JB (2016)Pain and disability following first time lumbar fusion surgery for degenerative disorders: a systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews. 5:72 DOI: 10.1186/s13643-016-0252-2

Rushton A, Heneghan N, Heijmans, M W, Staal JB, Goodwin P (2016) Natural course of pain and disability following primary lumbar discectomy: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 6, 2, e010571. DOI: doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010571 JIF 2.27

Jolly K, Majothi S, Sitch AJ, Heneghan NR, Riley RD, Moore DJ, Bates EJ, Turner AM, Bayliss SE, Price MJ, Singh SJ, Adab P, Fitzmaurice DA, Jordan R (2016) Self-management of healthcare behaviours for COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Journal of COPD. 11:305–326. DOI: 10.2147/COPD.S90812 JIF 3.14

Heneghan NR, Smith R, Rushton A (2016) Thoracic dysfunction in whiplash-associated disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Systematic Reviews. 5:26. DOI: 10.1186/s13643-016-0201-0  

Heneghan NR, Rushton A (2016) Understanding why the thoracic region is the 'Cinderella' region of the spine. Manual Therapy. 21:274-276. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2015.06.010  JIF 1.71


Rushton A, White L, Heap A, Heneghan N (2015) Survey of current surgeon practice for patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion in the UK. World Journal of Orthopaedics. 6(6):483-90. DOI:10.5312/wjo.v6.i6.483

Heneghan NR Management of the Thoracic Spine in Patients with COPD. In: Grieve’s Modern Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy 4th Ed. 2015. Churchill Livingstone Chapter 44.3

Franklin S, Grey M, Heneghan NR, Bowen L, Li F-X (2015) Barefoot vs Common Footwear: A systematic review of the kinematic, kinetic and muscle activity differences during walking. Gait & Posture. 42 (3): 230-239. DOI: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.05.019 JIF 2.75

Rushton A, Heneghan N, Heap A, White L, Calvert M, Goodwin P (2015) Physiotherapy rehabilitation post first lumbar discectomy: phase II pilot and feasibility trial. PlosOne 10(11), e0142013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142013 JIF 3.23

Peek A, Miller, C, Heneghan NR (2015) Thoracic manual therapy in the management of non-specific shoulder pain: A systematic review  Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. 23 (4):176-187. DOI: 10.1179/2042618615Y.0000000003

Heneghan NR, Adab P, Jackman S, Balanos GM (2015) Musculoskeletal dysfunction in COPD an observational study. Int J Ther Rehabil. 22(3): 119–28. DOI: 10.12968/ijtr.2015.22.3.119 JIF 1.91

Scholefield S, Cooke C, van Vliet P, Heneghan NR (2015) The effectiveness of mental imagery for improving strength in an asymptomatic population – a systematic review. Physical Therapy Reviews. 20(2)86-97. DOI: 10.1179/1743288X15Y.0000000013

Majothi S, Jolly K, Heneghan NR, Price M, Riley R, Turner A, Bayliss S, Moore D, Singh S, Adab P, Fitzmaurice D, Jordan R (2015) Supported self-management for patients with COPD who have recently been discharged from hospital: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Journal of COPD. 10: 857-63. DOI: 10.2147/COPD.S74162 JIF 2.67

Jordan R, Majothi S, Heneghan NR, Blissett DB, Riley RD, Sitch AJ et al. (2015) Supported self-management for patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): an evidence synthesis and economic analysis. Health Technology Assessment. 19(36). Available from: 10.3310/hta19360. DOI: 10.3310/hta19360


Jordan R, Majothi S, Heneghan NR, Riley R, Stitch A, Price M, Bates E, Turner A, Bayliss S, Moore D, Singh S, Adab P, Fitzmaurice D, Jolly K (2014) Does self-management support increase the risk of mortality amongst patients with COPD? A systematic review of the evidence. European Respiratory Journal.  44 no. Suppl 58 P4737

Rushton A, Wright C, Kontakiotis N, Mystrakis A, Frydas D, Heneghan NR (2014) Discriminative validity of sensory evaluation in a whiplash-associated disorder II population. Int J Ther Rehabil. 21 (10): 460-7. DOI: 10.12968/ijtr.2014.21.10.460

Rushton A, Heneghan N, Heap A, White L, Hamid N, Eveleigh G, Wright C (2014) Survey of current physiotherapy practice for patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion in the UK. Spine 39(23):E1380-7 DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000000573 JIF 2.30

Snodgrass SJ, Heneghan NR, Tsao H, Stanwell P, Rivett DA, van Vliet P (2014) Neuroplasticity in musculoskeletal conditions. Manual Therapy. 19(6):614-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2014.01.006 JIF 1.71


Sturmberg C, Marquez J, Heneghan N, Snodgrass S, van Vliet P. (2013) Attentional focus of feedback and instructions in the treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction: A systematic review. Manual Therapy. 18 (6): 458-467. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2013.07.002 JIF 1.71

Heneghan NR, Balanos GM, Adab P, Jordan RE (2012). Manual therapy for chronic obstructive airways disease: A systematic review of current evidence. Manual Therapy. 17(6):507-18. DOI:10.1016/j.math.2012.05.004 JIF 1.71

Rushton A, Eveleigh G, Petherick EJ, Heneghan NR, Bennett R, James G, Wright C (2012) Physiotherapy rehabilitation following lumbar spinal fusion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials, BMJ Open. 24;2(4) DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000829 JIF 2.27

Stamos I, Heneghan NR, McCarthy C (2012) Inter-examiner reliability of active Combined Movements Assessment of Subjects with a History of Mechanical Neck Problems. Manual Therapy 17(5):438-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2012.04.009 JIF 1.71

Kilby J, Heneghan NR, Maybury M. (2012) Manual palpation of lumbo-pelvic landmarks; a validity study. Manual Therapy. 17(3):259-62. DOI:10.1016/j.math.2011.08.008 JIF 1.71

Rushton A, Wright C, Heneghan NR, Eveleigh G, Calvert M, Freemantle N (2011) Physiotherapy rehabilitation for Whiplash Associated Disorder II: a systematic review and meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. BMJ Open. 14; 1(2):e000265. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000265 JIF 2.27

Heneghan NR, Balanos GM. (2010) Soft tissue artefact in the thoracic spine during axial rotation and arm elevation using ultrasound imaging: a descriptive study.  Manual Therapy 15(6):599-602. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2010.05.004 JIF 1.71

Heneghan NR, Hall A, Hollands M, Balanos GM (2009) Stability and intra-tester reliability of an in vivo measurement of thoracic axial rotation using an innovative methodology. Manual Therapy 14(4):452-455. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2008.10.004 JIF 1.71 

van Vliet PM, Heneghan NR (2006) Motor control and the management of musculoskeletal dysfunction. Manual Therapy. 11(3): 208-213. DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2006.03.009 JIF 1.71

Heneghan NR (2005) The influence of gender on skeletal muscle endurance capacity. Physical Therapy Reviews. 10(3): 171-178.  DOI: 10.1179/108331905X68529