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Dr. Roisin Cahalan

PhD, BBS, Grad Dip Comp, BSc, MA


I qualified as a chartered physiotherapist in UL in 2008 and have worked in many settings in the private and public sector in the intervening years. My main area of interest is musculoskeletal physiotherapy in dancers and athletes. I was a professional Irish dancer in Riverdance, the Show prior to embarking on my physiotherapy studies, working as both troupe and lead dancer.

My PhD completed in 2014 examined musculoskeletal pain and injury in elite adult Irish dancers. This thesis was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Kieran O'Sullivan and Prof. Peter O'Sullivan. Post-doctoral work explored the biopsychosocial causes of pain and injury in a variety of dance styles including elite adult and adolescent Irish dancers, contemporary dancers and ballet. This work involved collaboration with several partners including Dance UK, the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance London, Ballet Ireland, and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance here in UL.

I have also collaborating with researchers from PESS, IWAMD and the University of Roehampton investigating disordered eating in dancers, and further collaborations include n a number of studies examining injury surveillance and screening in a variety of athletic populations including rugby (in conjunction with PESS and the IRFU), endurance athletes and male and female elite athletes players. I am also investigating the impact of personalised goal based exercise monitoring in adults with CF in conjunction with colleagues at University Hospital Limerick.

I was appointed to the post of Lecturer in Respiratory and Cardiovascular Physiotherapy in the School of Allied Health in 2017 and I am currently lecturing at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I have just completed a MA in Teaching, Learning and Scholarship here at UL and was awarded the Shannon Consortium Regional Excellence in Teaching award 2018. I am a member of the HRI and the CPAHRs cluster, and am Course Director for the MSc Physiotherapy PQ programme.

Research Interests

The main focus of my research is musculoskeletal pain and injury in dancers and athletes. My PhD examined this concept in elite adult Irish dancers. Since then, I have expanded my research work in dancers to include pain and injury in ballet and contemporary dancers as well as elite adolescent Irish dancers. To this end I collaborate with a number of partners including the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD), Ballet Ireland, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, and multiple Irish dancing schools in the mid-west region. I am also collaborating with researchers in Physical Education and Sports Science (PESS) and Roehampton University (UK) examining disordered eating in Irish dancers.

I am also co-supervising a number of PhD and MSc projects involving screening and surveillance of pain and injury in a variety of athletic populations. This includes a nationwide study of club and schools rugby in conjunction with the IRFU, with colleagues in PESS, and a study of the factors affecting pain and injury in endurance athletes. Further cohorts being investigated by students include male and female elite athletes. A new research direction which is aligned to my teaching relates to behavioral change in Cystic Fibrosis via personalised e-health interventions. This project is in collaboration with the University Hospital Limerick and collaborators across the University.

I am a member of the Health Research Institute (HRI) and the the CPAHR cluster.

Teaching Interests

I am a lecturer in respiratory and cardiovascular physiotherapy for undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts at the School of Allied Health at University of Limerick (UL). Previously, I was the module leader for a range of musculoskeletal physiotherapy modules, also at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I also teach on a first year undergraduate broadening module involving a large group of mixed discipline students from across the university. My first role in UL was as the Practice Education Coordinator for the physiotherapy undergraduate programme. Prior to that however, I was a guest lecturer on multiple programmes in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance (IWAMD) due to my background as a professional Irish dancer coupled with my work as a physiotherapist.

I am the 2017/18 winner of the Shannon Consortium Regional Teaching Excellence award and also the team leader on the successful DELTA national teaching award 2018.