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Shea Palmer  PhD, FHEA, MCSP

Professor Shea Palmer


Professor: Physiotherapy

School of Healthcare Sciences

Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a physiotherapist with strong clinical academic research experience. I am passionate about the development of clinical academic careers and have extensive experience of mentoring clinicians and academic staff at all stages of the clinical academic pathway. This includes National Institute for Health & Care Research (NIHR) fellowships, from internships through to doctoral and post-doctoral awards.

My research has a strong focus on musculoskeletal health, particularly joint hypermobility-related conditions (hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders). I also have active interests in the assessment and management of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and a range of other musculoskeletal conditions. However, I also have experience of working with colleagues from a very wide range of professions and in many other health conditions.

My publications demonstrate wide expertise in different methodological approaches, including evidence synthesis, epidemiology, qualitative, laboratory-based and clinical studies.

I am a very experienced research degree supervisor (13 completions), examiner (21 examinations), and independent chair (35 examinations). I have experience of sitting on a number of regional and national funding panels, including for Health & Care Research Wales, NIHR and the Health Research Board in Ireland.

























My primary research interests are in the assessment and management of musculoskeletal disorders, including hypermobility-related disorders, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

My research has been funded by a range of sources, including Arthritis Research UK, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Charitable Trust, National Osteoporosis Society, NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme, NIHR Research for Patient Benefit and the Physiotherapy Research Foundation.

Ongoing and recently completed funded research includes:

  • A randomised controlled feasibility trial of a prehabilitation intervention in frail older people undergoing total hip or knee replacement [NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme]
  • HoPES (Hope and Prepare Effectively for Surgery): Personalised self-management for managing hip and knee replacement wait lists. [Innovate UK, SBRI: Healthy Ageing scaling social ventures]
  • Development and evaluation of a rehabilitation programme for people with complex fractures following traumatic injury [HEE/NIHR Doctoral Clinical Practitioner and Academic Fellowship]
  • Exploration of patient-reported outcome measures in young, active people who are at risk of developing or who already have early knee osteoarthritis [HEE/NIHR ICA Pre-doctoral Clinical and Practitioner Academic Fellowship]
  • Professional Nurse Advocate Programme Evaluation [NHS England and NHS Improvement]
  • Evaluation of the Emergency Medicine (HM) Leaders Programme [Health Education England]
  • The effect of Mulligan knee mobilization with movement approach on acute Total Knee Arthroplasty, randomized clinical trial [Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences]


I completed my training as a physiotherapist at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh in 1994. I worked clinically for 3 years, at Morriston Hospital/Morriston Hospital in Swansea and Aintree Hospitals in Liverpool, before returning to Queen Margaret to undertake my PhD. I joined the academic staff in 1999 and was appointed Head of Physiotherapy in 2003.

In 2005 I joined the University of the West of England, Bristol, fulfilling a number of roles, including Principal Lecturer, Associate Professor and Associate Head of Department (Research & Knowledge Exchange). I was appointed as Professor of Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation in 2012.

In 2021, I was appointed Professor of Allied Health and part of the leadership team for the 'Centre for Care Excellence', a joint initiative between Coventry University and University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust. I retain a Visiting Professor role at Coventry University.

I joined Cardiff University as Professor of Physiotherapy in February 2023.


I am an experienced postgraduate research supervisor, with 13 successful completions. My previous supervisees have been from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including Bioengineering, Health Psychology, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech and Language Therapy and Therapeutic Radiography.

I would very much welcome applications from prospective PhD students who are interested in researching the assessment and management of musculoskeletal conditions.

Ongoing PhD supervision includes:

  • Rehabilitation for people with complex fractures following traumatic injury
  • Dynamic orthoses for shoulder symptoms in people with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSDs)
  • Comfort interventions for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy

Past projects

The following are the titles of PGR degree theses that I have successfully supervised to completion:

  • The psychological impact of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
  • Getting better after a hip fracture
  • Exercise on Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) in patients with severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): From hospital to home
  • The impact of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome in adults
  • Exploring biographical and occupational disruption and reconstruction in men with CFS/ME
  • ‘Conversation is a two-way process’. Introducing conversation partner training in aphasia in Dutch rehabilitation practice
  • Physiotherapists’ and patients’ beliefs regarding exercise prescription for persistent non-specific low back pain
  • A pilot, clinical trial of a psycho-educational nursing intervention in patients receiving an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
  • Measuring the benefits of Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and TENS-like devices: integrating the user's perspective with evidence-based medicine
  • Development of essential criteria for hip arthroplasty review
  • Thermal perception related to pain experience after stroke
  • Nociceptive discriminability and response bias in healthy individuals and patients with low back pain: a signal detection theory analysis
  • Developing an assessment strategy for children diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome (HMS)

Research themes


  • Physiotherapy