Skip to main content
Liba Sheeran

Dr Liba Sheeran

Reader: Physiotherapy

School of Healthcare Sciences


I am Reader and Director of Impact and Innovation at the School of Healthcare Sciences and Population Health research theme Lead at the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences. 

I hold honours degree in Physiotherapy, a Master of Science in Sports Physiotherapy and Exercise and a PhD in phenotyping persistent back pain to tailor management. I have led several interdisciplinary projects mostly concerned with developing and evaluation of digital health technology interventions that deliver health and wellbeing support and management tailored to individual needs of people with complex long-term conditions (LTCs) such as back pain and osteoarthritis. I use variety of methodologies including large dataset mining, experimental techniques, co-creation, design thinking, human computer interaction and participatory action research. Through this work I aim to bring multi-disciplinary perspective to phenotyping LTCs to tailor its management, and health and wellbeing support.

Founding member of the Welsh Institute of Physical Activity, Health and Sport. Educator and collaborator on Pain-Ed, international group of academic experts to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice in pain management. NIHR and Versus Arthritis TRC Pain Workstream Digital Technology Expert Committee Member. Steering Committee member for MRC Confidence in Concept Scheme and Ser Cymru funded project: ‘Clinical acceptance of technology for remote rehabilitation’. Contributed to developing national strategy to optimise the appropriate use of digital and health technologies in the design and delivery of physiotherapy services across the UK. 





















My research aims to translate fundamental science and apply it to the real world to improve health, wellbeing, and quality of life of people with complex long-term conditions (LTCs) mainly involving musculoskeletal apparatus such as back pain and osteoarthritis. My work is multi-disciplinary, crossing healthcare science, population health, medicine, engineering, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other disciplines and typically involves practitioners and industry. My projects have a clear impact pathway, be it through commercialisation, informing practice, policy, or further work such as implementation studies.

Research funding

I have been involved in submitting research bids exceeding £6.5 million in value, successfully capturing grant income of £2.7 million. Funding has been secured through variety of sources including UKRI (ESRC, MRC), UK Government, Health and Care Research Wales, European Union Social Fund, Research Wales Innovation Fund, Wellcome Trust, Global Collaboration Research Fund, charity (Versus Arthritis, Society of Occupational Medicine) and industry partners (IBM Visual Insights and Meridian IT).


BACK-on-LINETM a work-based digital self-management intervention for back pain scale up into the GB rail sector’; funded by Research Wales Innovation Fund, Innovation for All Impact Catalyst Award (with Rail Safety and Standards Board [RSSB], Network Rail, Siemens, Transport for London, Transport for Wales)

‘BACK-on-LINETM adaptation into manufacturing and transport sector in Sri Lanka’; funded by Society of Occupational Medicine Golden Jubilee Fellowship Prize (with Centre of Occupational Health and Safety, Sri Lanka)

‘Automatic classification of spinal movement impairments to personalise exercises for people with persistent back pain’; funded by Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Population Health Award (with IBM Visual Insights and Meridian IT)

Versus Arthritis Biomechanics and Bioengineering Research Centre Versus Arthritis, Cardiff University (with NHS Wales)

Recently Completed  

2018-2020 Principal Investigator ‘BACK-on-LINETM: technology to improve low back pain management in workplace’ UK Gov Dept of Work and Pensions and Dept of Health and Social Care, Health Challenge Fund (16/11/2018): £168,696 (with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Transport for London)

2019-2020 Principal Investigator ‘Thoracic movements and respiratory function following breathing exercises used in contemporary dance routines: pilot study’ Global Collaboration Research fund (GCRF) Project fund (01/03/2019): £20,455 (with Unicamp, Brazil)

2018-2021 Principal Investigator ‘Run Healthy, Run Strong: The development of a digital running-related injury prevention and self-management intervention’ European Union Social Fund (ESF) PhD Studentship (01/07/2018): £62,020 (with Run Wales and Welsh Athletics)

2016-2019 Principal Investigator ‘Physio-in-the-Pocket: sensor technologies for personalised rehabilitation of back pain’ Health and Care Research Wales RCBC Postdoctoral Fellowship (01/01/2016): £112.778 (with Xsens, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)


I teach, assess and supervise students on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in areas of public health, musculoskeletal condition management, anatomy, exercise, physical activity and nutrition for health. I lecture in sports and exercise physiotherapy including the diagnosis and management of sport related injuries. I teach extensively current models of management of back pain across range of populations (children, adults, athletes and general population, occupational sector). I also teach on Master and Doctoral research methods programmes.

I am a regularly invited speaker nationally and internationally on prevention, management and diagnosis of complex pain conditions in sport and athletic populations and run expert workshops. This includes delivery of workshops nationally and internationally to healthcare practitioners on prevention and management of long term musculoskeletal pain conditions through invites from the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM). I also delivered workshops and keynote lectures at Swiss Physiotherapy Society Young Athletes Forum Symposium in Switzerland (2017) and 6th Salzburg Physiotherapy Sports Symposium in Austria (2019).

I am a visiting Lecturer at University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI), Switzerland. I belong to the Pain-Ed international expert group consortium promoting evidence-based practice in complex pain management and delivering lectures nationally and internationally. 

Masters level teaching:

  • Clinical Kinaesiology and Tissue Pathology (HCT 226)
  • Musculoskeletal Diagnosis and Treatment (HCT 139)
  • Assessment and Treatment of Sports Injury (HCT 022)
  • MSc Research methods and data analysis (HCT 206)
  • MSc dissertation module (HCT117)

Doctoral level teaching:

  • Applied Quantitative Methods in Healthcare Research (NRT 108)


I was awarded with Bachelor (Hons) in Physiotherapy from University of the West of England, Bristol, U.K in July 1999. After graduation I worked as a clinician in the NHS before transiting to occupational health and university sport sectors at Bristol University and University of Bath. I completed MSc in Sports Physiotherapy and Exercise in April 2006 and progressing to  PhD in Motor control in chronic low back pain (January 2011) both from Cardiff University, U.K. I gained Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in 2014 and became a fellow of Higher Education Academy. I currently hold full time academic role as a Reader in Physiotherapy at Cardiff University.

Throughout my career I continued to be clinically active chartered physiotherapist with clinical expertise mainly focussed in elite sports performance sector and occupational health. My clinical posts included working as a Lead Performance Physiotherapist for British Orienteering Federation (2006-2009), Sport Wales Institute (2007-2009), UK Athletics physiotherapy lead for Wales (2009-2010) and Welsh athletics (2010-present). I have clinical experience working at world class multi-sport events including World University Archery Championships (2005), World University Games in Turin (2006), Commonwealth Games in 2010 Delhi, 2014 Glasgow and 2018 Gold Coast, London 2012 Olympic Games, 1st European Games (2015) and Islamic Games (2017) in Baku and several European and World Touch Championships supporting Team Wales. I currently work part-time as a consultant physiotherapist with Welsh Athletics.

Honours and awards

  • Work and Health Challenge Fund Award recipient (2018)
  • Wellcome Trust & Cardiff University International Seedcorn Travelling Fellowship recipient (2016)
  • Society of Back Pain Research Travelling Fellowship recipient (2016)
  • Health and Care Research Wales RCBC Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award (2015)

Professional memberships

  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) (since 1999)
  • Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) (since 1999)
  • Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine (ACPSEM) (since 1999)
  • Higher Education Academy (HEA) Fellow (since 2014)
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (BASES) (since 2017)
  • British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine (BASEM) (since 2018)

Committees and reviewing

  • Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre research Committee member (2010-present)
  • Cardiff Women in Science (CWIS) committee member (2016-17)
  • Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering Research (CITER) research committee member (2014-2016)
  • Physiotherapy Research Society committee member (2012-14)

Journal reviewer

  • Applied Ergonomics
  • Spine
  • Musculoskeletal Science and Practice
  • British Journal of Sports Medicine
  • Physiotherapy
  • Physiotherapy Practice
  • International Jpournal of Therapy and Rehabilitation

Grant Reviewer

  • Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering Research (CITER)
  • Physiotherapy Research Society

Conference/Congress abstract reviewer

  • The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy UK Conference (2012)
  • World Congress in Physical Therapy (2015)
  • Physiotherapy Research Society (2012-2014)


I supervise PhD students in research and development of digital health technologies including virtual reality, sensors, video motion tracking; deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning tools.

I am interested in supervising students in the following areas:

  • Use of technologies (wearables, IMU sensors, video tracking) for e-rehab
  • Improved self-management of musculoskeletal and neurodegenerative disorders
  • Digital platforms for sport injury prevention and management
  • Data mining for individualised rehabilitation

Selected PhD projects: 

  • Run Healthy - Run Strong: Digital platform for sports injury prevention and self-management (PhD: Kathleen Walker)
  • Wearable technologies for tracking physical activity of people with Huntington Diseases (PhD: Vincent Poile)
  • Back-to-Fit: e-rehab for back pain (PhD: Akushla Senarath Rathnayake)
  • Feasibility and acceptability of virtual reality interventions in people with back pain (PhD: Anfal Astek)
  • Feasiblity and acceptibility of BACK-on-LINETM in range of work sectors (PhD: Minghao Chen)
  • Physical activity levels in adults with congenital heart disease and its effect on exercise capacity and quality of life (Professional Doctorate: Lynda Shaughnessy)