Dr Nicola R Heneghan


Physiotherapy Lecturer, Programme Leader MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy

School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences


Contact details

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


Nicola is a Physiotherapy Lecturer and Programme Leader MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy.


  • PhD University of Birmingham
  • MSc Neuromusculoskeletal Physiotherapy, University College London, 1998
  • 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 regularly lectures on the subject of musculoskeletal changes in dysfunctional breathing at national conferences and other Universities.


Nicola's involvement in teaching, learning and supervision encompasses the subject areas of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, manipulative therapy, COPD and mental imagery. Her involvement is focused to the postgraduate programmes, particularly managing and teaching on the MSc Advanced Manipulative Physiotherapy programme and supervising MSc research students.

Postgraduate supervision

Nicola currently supervisors a number of PhD, PGT and PGR students across a range of subjects relating to her expertise in musculoskeletal/manipulative physiotherapy and mental imagery


Nicola has three main areas of collaborative research activity, one focused on COPD and one spinal dysfunction linked to whiplash associated disorder and lumbar spine fusion and one involving mental imagery in rehabilitation;

  1. Member of the Respiratory Epidemiology Group (HAPS).This is a multidisciplinary group which collaborates on research and research related activity in COPD. I have been involved in the development of research grants, publications and now am a reviewer for a large systematic review from a funded NIHR bid. Collaborators: Professor K Jolly, Professor P Adab, Dr R Jordan
  2. Musculoskeletal research (Whiplash Associated Disorder and Lumbar spinal fusion). Dr Alison Rushton
  3. Mental imagery. Collaborators: Professor P van Vliet, Dr S Snodgrass

Other activities

  • Allied Healthcare Professions Research Network: Birmingham University co-representative for Midlands Branch.
  • Vice Chair and External Assessor Coordinator Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP) Committee for Education and Approval



  • Snodgrass SJ, Heneghan NR, Tsao H, Stanwell PT, Rivett DA, Van Vliet P (2014) Recognising neuroplasticity in musculoskeletal rehabilitation: A basis for greater collaboration between musculoskeletal and neurological physiotherapists. Manual Therapy (in press)
  • Sturmberg C, Marquez J, Heneghan NR, 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • 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.
  • Kilby J, Heneghan NR, Maybury M. (2012) Manual palpation of lumbo-pelvic landmarks; a validity study. Manual Therapy. 17(3):259-62.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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  
  • van Vliet PM, Heneghan NR (2006) Motor control and the management of musculoskeletal dysfunction. Manual Therapy. 11(3): 208-213
  • Heneghan NR (2005) The influence of gender on skeletal muscle endurance capacity. Physical Therapy Reviews. 10(3): 171-178.  


  • Heneghan NR, Jordan RE, Adab P, Balanos GM. (2012) Manual therapy for chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD): a systematic review of current evidence. IFOMPT, Quebec September 29th. Platform Presentation.
  • Heneghan NR. (2009) Musculoskeletal physiotherapy skills; an evidence informed approach to the management of patients with dysfunctional breathing.  Physiotherapy First Conference. Nottingham
  • Heneghan NR. (2008) Stability and intra-tester reliability of an in vivo measurement of thoracic axial rotation using an innovative methodology. International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists. Rotterdam.

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