Dr Nicola R Heneghan

Dr Nicola R Heneghan

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Lecturer, Researcher in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Sciences,
Programme Leader MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy
Independent Prescribing Lead (HCPC)

Contact details

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

Nicola’s research is at the forefront of enhancing our understanding of the assessment and management of musculoskeletal and spinal pain disorders to inform precision rehabilitation. Within the School we are developing and validating new assessment protocols which offer new opportunities to objectively characterise the presentation of patients presenting with musculoskeletal pain of spinal and traumatic origin, to enable appropriate identification of patient-specific safe targeted interventions. Effective targeted rehabilitation can enable improved effectiveness (clinical and cost) as it identifies which patients to target with specific rehabilitation approaches, and therefore enables more effective use of rehabilitation resources. 

There are 2 themes to my significant contribution to research in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences:

  1. My scientific contribution is through the work I lead on which focuses on thoracic dysfunction in patient populations, including traumatic whiplash, low back pain and COPD populations for precision rehabilitation; and through the collaborative work that I do with colleagues which focuses on spinal pain, including low back pain surgical and traumatic musculoskeletal pain populations.
  2. My empirical contribution is through expertise in observational cohort studies, systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials in the health sector. I advise and provide empirical contribution to a range of individuals across the School. 

Qualifications

  • PhD University of Birmingham, 2013
  • MSc Neuromusculoskeletal Physiotherapy, University College London, 2008
  • Membership of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, 1998
  • PG Cert HE, Coventry University, 2001
  • Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 1988
  • Registrant with the Health Professions Council, 1988
  • Graduate Diploma in Physiotherapy, New Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge, 1998

Biography

Nicola has a strong research profile, with 30 publications since 2011 in high impact journals including PlosOne, BMJ Open, and Manual Therapy. She has received >£250,000 in research funding; 6 invited keynote presentations at prestigious conferences; and >30 research conference oral / poster presentations.

Nicola has worked within education since 2000 with a focus to research and teaching in the specialist area of musculoskeletal rehabilitation / manipulative physiotherapy / sports medicine. Nicola's involvement in teaching, learning and supervision encompasses the subject areas of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, manipulative therapy, sports medicine, evidence based practice, clinical reasoning, and research methods. Her involvement is focused to the postgraduate programmes, particularly teaching and supervision on the MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy, MSc Exercise and Sports Medicine (Football) and supervising MSc, MRes and PhD students.

Nicola is the Education Lead of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP), MO of IFOMPT and Hub Lead for the Council for Allied Health Professions Research (CAHPR) Midlands Branch.  

Accredited organisation for Physiotherapy

Teaching

Postgraduate supervision

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

Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Sciences, particularly precision rehabilitation in the areas of spinal pain, musculoskeletal pain following trauma, sports medicine.

If you are interested 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:

  • Precision rehabilitation for spinal pain
  • Precision rehabilitation following trauma
  • Clinical reasoning in musculoskeletal physiotherapy
  • Trunk laterality recognition tasks and motor imagery
  • Precision management low back pain in elite gymnasts
  • Investigation of the neurophysiological effects of physiotherapy treatment interventions in the cervical spine - measurement of key outcome measures

Research

Human Movement and Rehabilitation

Research Activity

Nicola works as part of a team of researchers focused to personalised rehabilitation for patients presenting with musculoskeletal pain of spinal and traumatic origin.

It is widely acknowledged that assessment and management of musculoskeletal and spinal pain disorders is an international challenge and comes at great patient and societal cost, particularly as many problems become long term chronic conditions. In the UK, direct costs of low back pain alone are estimated to be £2.8 billion annually. The team are developing and validating new assessment protocols which offer new opportunities to objectively characterise the presentation of patients presenting with musculoskeletal pain of spinal and traumatic origin. As a result, this enables appropriate identification of patient-specific safe targeted interventions. Effective targeted rehabilitation can enable improved effectiveness (clinical and cost) as it identifies which patients to target with specific rehabilitation approaches, and therefore enables more effective use of rehabilitation resources. The process of developing effective targeted rehabilitation is lengthy and requires several stages to ensure rigour and applicability to practice. Our research is fundamentally interdisciplinary in nature and involves collaboration across the School and University.

Her role is as 1] PI for projects investigating thoracic spine dysfunction across a range of presentations, including COPD, whiplash, non-specific neck pain, low back pain and shoulder dysfunction 2] Co-I for projects focused to acute low back pain, spinal surgery and musculoskeletal polytrauma.

Thoracic dysfunction in musculoskeletal presentations (PI)

The development novel measurement approaches to evaluate thoracic spine mobility has enabled us to investigate dysfunction in this relatively under research spinal region (4 papers published). Reviews and observational studies completed or in progress in populations include but are not limited to COPD, whiplash associated disorders, sedentary and active populations. Understanding the scope and nature of thoracic dysfunction using advanced technologies will inform future research investigating interventions (1 book contribution, 2 papers published, 2 under preparation).    

Case study: Thoracic spine dysfunction in musculoskeletal presentations

Physiotherapy personalised rehabilitation post lumbar discectomy (Co-I)

Phase III trial funding application for evaluation of stepped care intervention under preparation targeting ARUK / NIHR EME. Collaboration with MDS, Oxford Surgical Trials Unit, Manchester Metropolitan University, and 7 clinical sites. Based on an established programme of research: survey of current UK practice, systematic review evaluating effectiveness of interventions, development of leaflet intervention, pilot and feasibility trial, development of physiotherapy intervention, analysis of intervention (all published); and systematic reviews of natural course of symptoms and prognostic factors, and qualitative analysis of patients’ experiences (papers under preparation).

Case study: Effective rehabilitation following lumbar spinal surgery

 Physiotherapy stratified rehabilitation post lumbar spinal fusion (Co-I)

Prospective cohort observational study evaluating prognostic factors indicative of poor clinical outcome using the British Spine Registry and equivalent databases in collaborating countries (Netherlands and Switzerland) commences January 2017. Funding application under preparation for data management and data analyses (NIHR RfPB). Results will inform stratified care physiotherapy intervention. Based on established programme of research:  surveys of current national surgeon and physiotherapy practice, systematic review evaluating effectiveness of interventions (all published), and systematic reviews of natural course of symptoms and prognostic factors (under preparation).

Case study: Effective rehabilitation following lumbar spinal surgery

 Lumbar spine research collaboration with the English Institute of Sport (Co-I)

Collaborative research contract in place with English Institute of Sport for lumbar spine research group. 5 funded MSc students with projects focused to assessment and targeted management of low back pain in elite sport (2 publications, 2 under review, 1 PhD student).

english-institute-of-sport-100x100

Trauma National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (NIHR SRMRC; Trauma Centre) (Collaborator on)

Collaborator on specific project: WP XVIII - Enhanced management of acute post-traumatic pain for the prevention of chronic pain and disability with Prof Deborah Falla and Dr Alison Rushton. To apply state-of-the-art methodologies and statistical approaches to better understand acute post-traumatic pain and prognosis in relation to the development of ongoing pain and disability. Moreover, to utilise this knowledge to develop and evaluate the feasibility of incorporating timely interventions for concomitant physical functioning and psychological health to prevent and/or reverse processes that mediate the transition from acute to chronic pain.

Other activities

  • Education Lead for the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • Alternate MO delegate for International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists (IFOMPT)
  • CAHPR Hub Lead Midlands Branch
  • Reviewer of articles submitted for publication to: Manual Therapy, Gait and Posture, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Patient Education and Counselling, 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 World Confederation of Physical Therapy and International Federation of Orthopaedic and Manipulative Physical Therapists conferences
  • NIHR CAIP Mentor
  • Scientific Committee IFOMPT2016 and Trial Steering Group membership 

Publications

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nicola_Heneghan

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=EEfEzQgAAAAJ&hl=en

Recent publications:

Kosteli MC,  Heneghan N, Roskell C ,Williams SE,  Adab P, Dickens A, Enocson A, Fitzmaurice,  D, Jolly K, Jordan R, Greenfield S, Cumming J (2016) Barriers and enablers of physical activity engagement for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care. Int Journal of COPD. JIF 3.14 (accepted)

Bucke J, Spencer S, Fawcett L, Sonvico L, Rushton A, Heneghan NR (2016) Validity of the digital inclinometer and iPhone when measuring thoracic rotation. Journal of Athletic Training JIF 1.42 (accepted)

Miller C, Peek AL, Power D, Heneghan NR (2016) Psychological consequences of  Traumatic Upper Limb Peripheral Nerve Injury: A Systematic Review. Journal of Hand Therapy (accepted)

Rushton A, Calcutt A, Heneghan NR, Heap A, White L, Calvert M, Goodwin P (2016) Descriptive analysis of a 1:1 physiotherapy outpatient intervention post primary lumbar discectomy: one arm of a small scale parallel RCT across two UK sites. BMJ Open 6:e009409 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009409 JIF 2.271

Tyros I, Soundy AA, Heneghan NR (2016) Inter-rater reliability of the tuning fork when measuring vibration threshold on a radial nerve distribution in WADII. Manual Therapy 25:81-6.  DOI: 10.1016/j.math.2016.06.006 JIF 1.71

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, e010571doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010571 JIF 2.271

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 1.71

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

2015

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

2014

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

2005-2013

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