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Associate Professor Susan Hillier 

Position: Dean: Research (Operations) Associate Professor Susan Hillier
Division/Portfolio: Division of Health Sciences
School/Unit: Health Sciences Divisional Office
Campus: City East Campus
Office: P5-06F
Telephone: +61 8 830 22544
Fax: +61 8 830 22842
Email: Susan_dot_Hillier_at_unisa_dot_edu_dot_au
URL for Business Card: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Susan.Hillier

Associate Professor Susan Hillier is an academic and clinician with teaching and research interests in the broad field of neuroscience and rehabilitation. One of her main research areas is on the effectiveness of rehabilitation approaches after stroke - this includes the role of afferent stimulation or training, as well as models of rehabilitation (eg NHMRC Project Funded CIRCIT/7 day per week trial; NSF funded Yoga for stroke; NSF funded Music therapy for stroke). The influence of rehabilitation on neuroplasticity is also a focus. Susan also has an interest in movement education and intervention approaches for other populations such as children with developmental coordination disorder or people who are ageing. She also works for the international Centre for Allied Health Evidcence at UniSA -examples of past projects include: • NHMRC Evidence Guidelines review – formulation of grades of evidence documents • DECS – Systematic review - children with coordination difficulties • DECS – Systematic review – Educators within multi-disciplinary frameworks • Queensland Health – Best Practice sheets – Upper limb stroke rehabilitation(2005); Lower limb and mobility rehabilitation (2008); updated 2011 • Queensland Health – Outcomes compendium for Community Rehabilitation (2007) • NHMRC – GAR – past Advisor for National Stroke Foundation Rehabilitation and Acute Stroke Guidelines, Venous Leg Ulcer Guidelines.

Links to other sites

Susan is part of the Stroke and Rehabilitation Research interest group within iCAHE. For more information click on this text.

Teaching interests

  • Neuroscience
  • Biomechanics
  • Movement studies
  • Rehabilitation studies

I teach the following courses

REHB 2048Neurosciences in Physiotherapy
REHB 3011Rehabilitation

Professional associations

Member of The Australian Feldenkrais Guild Inc

Member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association


Doctor of Philosophy (Health Science)

Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy)

Research interests

  • Neuroscience (clinical)
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Recovery from neurolgical insult
  • Rehabilitation
  • Motor control and motor learning

Research publications

My publications on Scopus

Hillier SL, Metzer J (1997) Awareness and perceptions of recovery post traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury 7: 525-536.

Hillier SL, Hiller JE, Metzer J (1997) Epidemiology of traumatic brain injury. Brain Injury 9: 649-659.

Hillier SL, Sharpe MH, Metzer J (1997) Outcomes five years post acquired brain injury, with further reference to neurophysical impairment and disability. Brain Injury 9:661-675.

Uy J, Ridding MC, Hillier S, Thompson PD, Miles TS (2003) Does induction of plastic change in motor cortex of chronic stroke patients improve leg function? Neurology 61: 982-984.

Hillier S. Community-based rehabilitation improves function of patients with traumatic brain injury. Aust J Physiother. 2003;49(4):277. (invited commentary).

Hillier S. Traditional Chinese acupuncture does not improve outcomes from post-stroke motor rehabilitation. Aust J Physiother. 2003;49(1):74. (invited commentary).

Hillier S, Masters R (2005) Does taping control the foot during walking for people who have had a stroke? Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. 12: 72-77.

Grimmer K, Suarez C, Agcaoli J, Chipchase L, Hillier S, McEvoy M, Milanese S (2005). Teaching Filipino Physiotherapists On-Shore: An Australian - Filipino Collaborative Postgraduate Health Education Initiative. Education for Health: Change in Learning and Practice. The Journal of The Network: Towards Unity for Health.

Grimmer K, Bialocerkowski A, Milanese S, Kumar S, Mulley B, Deenadayalaan Y, Neumann P, Dryden L, Maddison T, Hillier S (2005) CAHE outcomes calculator: An allied health initiative to improve practice. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. Vol 3, No:4.

Edwards I, Jones M, Hillier S (2006) The interpretation of experience and its relationship to body movement: A clinical reasoning perspective. Manual Therapy, 11: 2-10.

English, C, Hillier S, Stiller, K, Warden-Flood A, (2006) The sensitivity of three commonly used outcome measures to detect change amongst patients receiving inpatient rehabilitation post-stroke. Clinical Rehabilitation 20 (1): 52-55.

McDonnell M, Hillier SL, Ridding M, Miles TS (2006) Impairments in precision grip correlate with functional measures in adult hemiplegia. Clinical Neurophysiology. 117: 1474-1480.

Hillier SL, Dunsford AF. (2006) A pilot study of sensory retraining for the hemiparetic foot post stroke. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research. 29(3): 237-242.

McDonnell M, Hillier SL, Thompson P, Miles TS, Ridding M. (2007) "Influence of combined afferent stimulation and task-specific training following stroke: a pilot randomised controlled trial" Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair. 21: 435-443

English C, Hillier SL, Stiller K, Warden-Flood A. (2007) Circuit class therapy versus individual physiotherapy sessions during inpatient stroke rehabilitation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 88 (8): 955-963.

Hillier SL. (2007) Intervention for children with developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Science and Practice. 5 (3).

Lynch EA, Hillier SL, Stiller KS, Campanella RR, Fisher PH. (2007) Sensory retraining of the lower limb after acute stroke: A randomised controlled pilot trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 88: 1101-1107.

Hillier SL, Hollohan V. Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005397. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005397.pub

Dryden L, Hillier SL (2008) The Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire and Movement ABC as a diagnostic method in Australian children. Pediatric Physical Therapy . 20(1):39-46.

English C, Hillier S and Stiller K (2008) Incidence and severity of shoulder pain does not increase with the use of circuit class therapy during inpatient stroke rehabilitation Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 54: 41-46.

Coffee J, Hillier S. (2008) Teaching Pre-cursor Clinical Skills Using an Online Audio-visual Tool: An Evaluation Using Student Responses. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 4.

Hillier SL, Louw QA, Morris-Smith L, Uwimana J, Statham S (2010) Massage therapy for people with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 1. Art No: CD007502. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007502.pub2.

Schabrun S, Hillier SL (2009) Evidence for the retraining of sensation after stroke: a systematic review. Clinical Rehabilitation. 23: 27-39.

Burgess RJ, Hillier S, Keogh D, Kollmitzer J, Oddsson L. (2009) Multi-segment trunk kinematics during a loaded lifting task for elderly and young subjects. Ergonomics. 52: 222-231.

Elson T, English C, Hillier SL (2009) How Much Physical Activity Do Persons Recovering from Stroke Do During Physiotherapy Sessions? International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation.16 (2): 78-84.

Foley A, Hillier S, Barnard R (2009) Evaluation of a geriatric day rehabilitation centre, in terms of subjective and objective outcomes in community-dwelling older adults referred for musculoskeletal rehabilitation. Australian Journal of Public Health. 15: 117-122.

English C, Hillier SL. Circuit class therapy for improving mobility after stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD007513. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007513.pub2.

Hillier S, McIntyre A, Plummer L, (2010) Aquatic Physical Therapy for Children with Development Coordination Disorder: A Pilot Randomised Controlled Trial. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics 30,2: 111-124.

Foley A, Hillier S, Barnard R. (2010) Effectiveness of once-weekly gym-based exercise programmes for older adults post-discharge from a day rehabilitation: a randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine, Published online March 2010 doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.063966.

Harris D, Cadilhac D, Hankey G, Hillier S, Kilkenny M, Lalor E. (2010) National Stroke Audit: The Australian Experience. Clinical Audit 2: 25-31

Slater L, Hillier S, Civetta L. (2010) Clinimetric Properties of Performance Based Gross Motor Tests used in Children with DCD: Systematic Review. Pediatric Physical Therapy 22: 170-179.

Hillier S, Porter L, Jackson K, Petkov J. (2010) The effects of Feldenkrais Classes on the health and function of an ageing Australian sample: A pilot study. The Open Rehabilitation Journal 3: 62-66.

Hillier SL, Inglis-Jassiem G. (2010) "Rehabilitation for community-dwelling people with stroke - home or centre based? A systematic review." International Journal of Stroke. 5 (3) 178-186.

Hillier SL, Su Fern M. (2009) Insole plantar-pressure measurement during quiet stance post stroke. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 16,3:189-195.

Brink Y, Hillier S, Louw Q, Schreve K. (2009) The influence of computer use on the sitting posture of high school students who develop neck and shoulder pain. South African Journal of Physiotherapy. 65, 2: 21-26.

Hillier SL, Comans T, Sutton M, Amsters D, (2010). Development of a participatory process to address fragmented application of outcome measurement for rehabilitation in community settings. Disability and Rehabilitation 32, 6: 511-520

Hillier SL, McDonnell M. Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD005397. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005397.pub2

Hillier SL, Civetta L, Pridham L. (2010) A Systematic Review of Collaborative Models for Health and Education Professionals and Implications for Training. Education for Health. 23.3.

Hillier S, Fisher P, Stiller K (2011). The timing and achievement of mobility skills during SCI rehabilitation. Spinal Cord 49: 416-420

Langerak, L, Hillier, SL, Verkoeijen, PP, Peter, JP, Fieggen, G, Vaughan, K. (2011) Level of activity and participation in adults with spastic diplegia 17–26 years after selective dorsal rhizotomy. J Rehabil Med.43: 330-337

Hillier S, Grimmer-Somers K, Merlin T, Middleton P, Salisbury J, Tooher R, Weston A.(2011) FORM: An Australian method for formulating and grading recommendations in evidence-based clinical guidelines. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 11:23 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/11/23)

Hillier S, English C, Crotty M, Segal L, Bernhardt J, Esterman A. (2011) Circuit class or seven day therapy for increasing intensity of rehabilitation after stroke. Protocol of the CIRCIT trial. International Journal of Stroke. 6; 560-565

Heath J, Grimmer-Somers K, Milanese S, Hillier S et al. (2011) Measuring the impact of Allied Health research. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. 4: 191-207.

Bitter F, Hillier S, Civetta L. (2011) Change in dexterity with sensory awareness training: an RCT. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 112:783-798

Garrett R, Immink M, Hillier S. (2011) Becoming Connected: The lived experience of yoga participation after stroke. Disability and Rehabilitation. 33:2404-2415.

English C, Hillier S. (2011) Circuit class therapy for improving mobility after stroke: a systematic review. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 43: 565-571.

Kaur G, English C, Hillier S. How physically active are people with stroke in therapy sessions aimed at improving motor function? A Systematic Review. Stroke Research and Treatment. Accepted 12th January 2012

Chan W, Immink MA, Hillier S. (2012) Yoga and exercise for symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with post-stroke disability: A pilot randomised controlled trial. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 18(3): 34-43.

Van Niekerk SM, Louw Q, Hillier S. The effectiveness of a chair intervention in the workplace to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms. A systematic review. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (accepted July 2012)

Kaur G, English C, Hillier S. Physiotherapists systematically overestimate the amount of time stroke survivors spend engaged in active therapy during inpatient rehabilitation: an observational study. Journal of Physiotherapy, 2013 59: 45–51

McDonnell M, Hillier S, Esterman A. Algorithm for upper limb rehabilitation in stroke. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation. 20(5):432–440

Tyson SF, Crow JL, Connell LA, Winward C, Hillier S (2013). Sensory loss after stroke: A pooled analysis of individual data. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 20(5):441–449

McDonnell, M.N., Hillier, S.L, Hooker, S.P, Le A, Judd, S., Howard, V.J. 2013. Physical activity frequency and risk of incident stroke in a national US study of blacks and whites. Stroke, [Epub ahead of print] Jul 18, 2013. doi: 10.1161/ STROKEAHA.113.001538

Thewlis D, Hillier S, Hobbs S, Richards J. (2013) Preoperative asymmetry in load distribution during quite stance persist following total knee arthroplasty. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. DOI 10.1007/s00167-013-2616-7

Grimmer K, Beaton K, Kumar S, Hendry K, Moss J, Hillier S, Forward J, Gordge L. (2013) Estimating the risk of functional decline in the elderly after discharge from an Australian public tertiary hospital emergency department Australian Health Review , 37:3; 341 – 34.

Community Service

Organisation Name:   Australian Stroke Coalition
Section:   National Rehabilitation Working Group
Level of involvement:    National Chair
Year from:   2008
Year to:   2013

Organisation Name:   SA Stroke Network
Level of involvement:    Chair
Year from:   2013
Year to:   2015

Research Degree Supervisor

Dr Susan Hillier has research interests within the general field of Neuroscience (clinical - translation and implementation). In particular she has researched and published in the area of movement impairment and disability in patient populations (particularly traumatic brain injury and stroke) and is involved in research investigating neuroplasticity in the sensori-motor cortex. Because of her background in clinical practice she has a keen interest in linking this primary research with current and emerging knowledge in the applied setting. She is also involved in the promotion of best practice using available evidence in systematic review and guide line production.

Dr Hillier has supervised nine PhD candidates to completion and currently has six candidates at UniSA as well as three candidates at other institutions.

Current Projects:

Circuit Class Therapy or Seven day a week therapy to increase dosage in stroke rehabilitation
 This is an NHMRC funded project investigating novel ways of increasing rehabilitation "dosage" for people with stroke.
Foot biomechanics in children with DCD and the use of orthotics
 An investigation of the effects of foot orthotics on children with both DCD and pronated feet.
Music Therapy and stroke
 This RCT will investigate the introduction of ward based music therapy for people receiving stroke rehabilitation
Sensory retraining of the hemiplegic foot
 An investigation of the effects of sensory strategy (re)training on hemiplegic feet, in particular its effect on postural sway. See Lynch et al and Hillier et al
Taping of the hemiplegic foot
 see Hillier et al
The use of peripheral stimulation paradigms on cortical plasticity and functional skills in people w
 A clinical trial into the use of peripheral stimulation and the resultant electrophysiological and functional effects in a group of people post stroke.
The use of the Fscan in analysing hemiplegic gait
 An investigation into the use of the Fscan (plantar pressure measuring device)in assessing and training gait in people post stroke.
Training perceptual and sensory strategies in the hand
 An investigation into physiological and functional effects of sensory and perceptual training of the intact upper limb.

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