Skip to main content

Sydney Neuro-Musculoskeletal Research Collaborative

Discover - Prevent - Rehabilitate - Cure – NeuroMusculoskeletal health conditions
We co-design our research with patients, clinicians, government and industry partners to discover causes and create solutions to reduce the global burden of NeuroMusculoskeletal conditions and improve people’s lives.

About us

The Neuro-Musculoskeletal research group is a multi-disciplinary collaboration involving almost 30 academics and more than 30 research students from a wide range of disciplines, such as most health disciplines, engineering, statistics and health economics, business, architecture and law. We currently work in 3 research laboratories as well as clinics and the community. Over the past 3 years our group has published over 260 peer-reviewed articles with a field-weighted citation impact (F_WCI) of 2.02 and received over $18.3 million of competitive research funding.

What we do

We lead research that aims to cure Neuro-Musculoskeletal conditions. We do this by discovering the causes of injury, pain and chronic conditions, developing innovative therapies aimed at treating the root cause of the problem, and translating our research into evidence-based practice in collaboration with clinicians and into policy in collaboration with policymakers. The range of our research includes:

  • the neuro-musculoskeletal system (the joints, muscles and tissues of the brain, spine and limbs),
  • the injury and /or disease onset (sports, traumatic and occupational injury, osteoarthritis) including accurate diagnosis and mechanisms, and
  • the course of these disorders (acute to chronic).

How we do this

  • Create cutting edge, relevant knowledge
  • Build vibrant research teams by ensuring inclusive teams with students (Honours and PhD candidates), early and mid-career researchers, mentored and supported by senior professors
  • Build collaborations by partnering globally with industry, health organisations, leading researchers, clinicians, and people living with these conditions
  • Conduct research using a wide range of research methods; epidemiological and cohort studies, discovery of new mechanisms (e.g. biomechanical, neuro-imaging, psychological and physical factors), qualitative studies, randomised clinical trials, systematic reviews, and implementation studies.

Research highlights and impact

  • Implementation of a novel Clinical PAthway of CarE for common musculoskeletal conditions (PACE MSK). This NHMRC funded trial will enrol >1000 patients and their primary health care professionals Australia wide. An online platform for patients and clinicians links to credible evidence-based resources for musculoskeletal conditions and customises resources to condition and prognostic risk.
  • 1000 Norms
  • Guidelines?
  • Dr Jennie Hewitt and team, awarded Journal of American Medical Directors Association 2019 Morley Award for Progressive resistance and balance training for falls prevention in long term residential aged care:  A cluster randomized trial of the Sunbeam Program.  Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.  19: 361-369  Hewitt J, Goodall S, Clemson L, Henwood T, Refshauge KM for publication with most impact.  The RCT found an exercise program for frail older people (mean age 85 yrs) significantly reduced injurious falls and increased independence and quality of life.  This work was instrumental in changing the Aged Care Funding Instrument in residential aged care facilities.

Our researchers


Research lead or interests


Evangelos Pappas

Epidemiology, aetiology, prevention, and treatment of athletic knee injuries and in particular anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

James Elliott

Neuromuscular imaging and characterization of underlying neurophysiological mechanisms for poor functional recovery following acute spinal trauma such as whiplash injuries.

Joshua Burns

Inherited neuropathies of childhood with special expertise in musculoskeletal disorders of the foot and ankle. 

Kathryn Refshauge

Effectiveness of treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and prevention of chronic disability, with particular interest in understanding the underlying mechanisms of these chronic injuries that finally lead to severe disability.

Paulo Ferreira

Innovative management of low back pain, particularly the use of e-health technology and artificial intelligence.

Associate professors

Alison Harmer

Acute and chronic effects of exercise among patient populations; interactions between cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal conditions.

Mark Halaki

Control of movements in healthy people and people with pathology.

Martin Mackey

Musculoskeletal injury prevention and the promotion of workplace-based physical activity, work ability and wellbeing in the context of an increasing sedentary working population.

Milena Simic

Clinical research for knee osteoarthritis, particularly physiotherapy-delivered interventions through telehealth, biomechanical interventions, and reduction of medication use.

Trudy Rebbeck

Discovery of new mechanisms for headache and musculoskeletal pain, and implementation of novel clinical pathways for musculoskeletal disorders including whiplash, low back pain and osteoarthritis.

Senior Lecturers

Andrew Leaver

Reducing suffering and disability associated with neck pain.

Claire Hiller

Lower limb injury and dance wellness.

Debra Shirley

Physical activity and low back pain.

Fereshteh Pourkazemi

Physiological, social, and psychological impacts of visual arts creation in patients with primary chronic pain.


Mitigation of sports-related head and neck injuries.


Touch, proprioception and vision in humans using psychophysics.



Dance and footwear with cross-cutting and integrated research projects.


Risk factors and management of musculoskeletal injuries, mainly low back pain, and the impact of lifestyle behaviours in chronic musculoskeletal pain.


Long term benefits of exercise and physical activity for persons with neurological injury or disease (e.g., spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, peripheral nerve disease).


Sports injuries: training load and ACL injuries.

Joan Margaret

Quality of life and ability to drive after surgical and conservative management of unruptured intracranial aneurysms and brain arteriovenous malformations.


Movement analysis and foot and ankle pain.


Sports injury, ethnogeographic variation in normative reference data, normative reference data for outcome measures of physical performance and biomarkers, clinical outcome measure development.


Prognosis of people following lower limb injuries, such as ankle fractures.


Measuring and improving clinical care and rehabilitation management for children with nerve and muscle diseases.


Carpal tunnel syndrome, changes in peripheral nerve after spinal cord injury, and motor neuron disease.

Our research students:


Thesis title

Raewyn Campbell

Musculoskeletal injuries in minimally invasive ENT surgeons and ergonomic interventions.

Lionel Chia

Athletic knee injury prevention.

Sonia Coates

Attributes of primary health practitioners that positively influence therapeutic alliance, interprofessional collaboration and outcomes for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

Larry Cohen

Sagittal trunk balance: population knowledge, measurement and non-surgical intervention.

Nicole D'Souza

The effect of gait retraining interventions on reducing medial knee joint load for individuals with medial knee osteoarthritis.

Lina Goh

Developing an innovative multidisciplinary intervention for freezing of gait and falls in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Edward Gorgon

Development and testing of a critical pathway to promote high-value physiotherapy care for low back pain.

Alex Griffin

Determinants of improved recovery and responsiveness to treatment after whiplash.

Michelle Hancock

Current health service delivery for spinal pain in a public hospital in Sydney: a chance for change.

Zhuang Hao

Comparison of conservative vs. surgical treatment after ACL injuries.

Benjamin Hickman

Social Dance and Community Effects Research (DanCER) and Chronic Pain.

Emma Ho

Health coaching to reduce care-seeking for chronic low back pain.

Laura Hutchison

The effect of gait retraining on patient reported outcomes in people with symptomatic medial knee osteoarthritis.

Kwangil Kang

Development and implementation of a clinical pathway of care for people with musculoskeletal pain at risk of poor recovery.

Marie March

Psychological health and total knee replacement: a health services perspective.

Suzanne Mate

Hybrid functional electrical stimulation training to improve aerobic fitness, body composition and fatigue in persons with advanced multiple sclerosis (MS).

Tomas Megalaa

Ankle rehabilitation in a healthcare setting.

Carlos Mesa Castrillon

EHealth, physical activity, sedentary behaviour and musculoskeletal pain in rural population.

Elle Morris

The establishment of a digital registry of participant-reported outcome measures to improve orthopaedic health outcomes in children.

Aimie Peek

Brain Neurochemicals in Migraine, Whiplash with Headache and Low back pain.

Shayan Quinlan

Children’s shoe research - impact on foot and low limb strength and performance outcomes.

Pavithra Rajan

Chronic back pain among Indian migrants in Sydney.

Suzie Stinton

Recovery and driving abilities after wrist fracture.

Brendan Ware

Syndesmosis injury.