Researcher biography

Dr Michelle Smith is a Lecturer in Physiotherapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Queensland. She has a Masters degree in Sports Physiotherapy and a PhD in motor control. The overarching aim of Michelle's research is to better understand the physical impairments (i.e. muscle function, kinematics/biomechanics, balance, movement and sensory motor deficits) associated with neuromusculoskeletal and pain conditions, and how the condition and these characteristics impact on an individual's function and involvement in society, specifically in terms of their ability to maintain a healthy active lifestyle and participate in work and physical activity. Understanding this information is essential to optimise treatment and management, improve quality of life and overall health, and prevent recurrence or worsening of the condition and/or the development of comorbidities.

The two main sub-themes to Michelle's research are:

1. To understand the factors associated with the presence and development of low back pain and related health comorbidities, specifically respiratory disease and incontinence - Michelle began her research career investigating co-morbidities, postural stability and motor control in people with low back pain, incontinence and respiratory disease. She has continued with this work with a focus on understanding consequences of these conditions in terms of falls incidence and risk, work and physical activity participation, and development of co-morbid conditions.

2. To understand the physiological and functional impairments associated with lower limb injury in order to improve management and prevent further injury - Michelle has a clinical and academic background in the management of lower body musculoskeletal conditions and has merged her clinical/academic expertise with her research to focus on understanding kinematic, kinetic and neuromuscular changes that occur in lower limb musculoskeletal pathologies and how they can be addressed in physiotherapy management. She is specifically interested in optimising management of these conditions to minimise impact on participation in recreational and sporting activities and quality of life.

Michelle has presented her research at national and international multi-disciplinary conferences, including keynote and invited presentation. She teaches across the undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy curriculum in the areas of musculoskeletal health and sports injuries. She has been recognised for her high teaching quality and impact at both School and Faculty levels through receipt of Teaching Excellence Awards. She is the Chair of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Workplace Health and Safety Committee, and a member of the Sports Physiotherapy Queensland Executive and Uniting Care Research Ethics Committees.