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Dr Michelle McDonnell 

Position: Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy (Rehabilitation) Dr Michelle McDonnell
Division/Portfolio: Division of Health Sciences
School/Unit: School of Health Sciences
Campus: City East Campus
Office: C8-42
Telephone: +61 8 830 21684
Fax: +61 8 830 22977
Email: Michelle_dot_McDonnell_at_unisa_dot_edu_dot_au
URL for Business Card: http://people.unisa.edu.au/Michelle.McDonnell

Teaching interests

  • I coordinate the Rehabilitation courses for third year Physiotherapy students.

I teach the following courses

REHB 3011Rehabilitation
REHB 5103Rehabilitation GE

Professional associations

Australian Physiotherapy Association

Australian Neuroscience Society

Australian Society for Medical Research

European Stroke Organisation


2006 PhD in Physiology, The University of Adelaide. Thesis: Human Motor Cortical Plasticity and Upper Limb Performance

1996 Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy (Honours), University of South Australia, Adelaide

Research interests

  • Neuroscience
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke recovery
  • Neurological physiotherapy

Research publications

McDonnell MN, Koblar S, Ward NS, Rothwell JC, Hordacre B, Ridding MC (2015) An investigation of cortical neuroplasticity following stroke in adults: is there evidence for a critical window for rehabilitation? BMC Neurology 15:109 doi: 10.1186/s12883-015-0356-7

Bradnam L, Graetz L, McDonnell MN, Ridding M (2015) Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation to the cerebellum improves handwriting and cyclic drawing kinematics in focal hand dystonia. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 18 May 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00286

McDonnell MN, Hillier SL, Opie GM, Nowosilskyj M, Haberfield M, Todd G. Continuous passive movement does not influence motor maps in healthy adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 29 April 2015 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00230

Howard VG and McDonnell MN (2015). Physical Activity in Primary Stroke Prevention: Just do it! Stroke [accepted March 2015]

Pitcher JB, Doeltgen SH, Goldsworthy MR, Schneider LA, Vallence AM, Smith AE, Semmler JG, McDonnell MN, Ridding MC. A comparison of two methods for estimating 50% of the maximal motor evoked potential. Clinical Neurophysiology (accepted 14 Feb 2015)

McDonnell MN and Hiller SL (2015). Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jan 13;1:CD005397. [Epub ahead of print]

McDonnell MN, Esterman AJ, Williams R, Walker J, Mackintosh SF (2014). Physical activity habits and preferences in the month prior to a first-ever stroke. PeerJ: 2:e489; DOI 10.7717/peerj.489

Causby R, Reed L, McDonnell MN, Hiller SL (2014).Use of objective psychomotor tests in health professionals. Perceptual and Motor Skills, doi: 10.2466/25.27.PMS.118k27w2

McDonnell MN, Mackintosh SF, Hillier, L, Bryan, J. Regular group exercise is associated with improved mood but not quality of life following stroke.PeerJ, 2014;Issue 1, Article number e331

McDonnell MN, Hillier SL, Hooker SP, Le A, Judd S, Howard VJ. Physical Activity Frequency and Risk of Incident Stroke in a National US Study of Blacks and Whites. Stroke, 2013:44: 2519-2524

McDonnell MN, Berry NM, Cutting MA, Keage HA, Buckley JD, Howe PRC. Transcranial doppler ultrasound to assess cerebrovascular reactivity: reliability, reproducibility and effect of posture. Peer J, 2013:1 e65. doi 10.7717/peerj.65. Print 2013

McDonnell MN, Buckley JD, Opie GM, Ridding MC, Semmler JG. A single bout of aerobic exercise promotes motor cortical neuroplasticity.Journal of Applied Physiology, 2013:114:1174-1182. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01378.2012

Fryer CE, Luker JA, McDonnell MN, Hillier SL. Self-management programs for quality of life in people with stroke. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue. Art. No.: CD010442. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010442

McDonnell MN, Esterman A, Hillier SL. Standardizing the approach to evidence-based upper limb rehabilitation following stroke. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, 2013:20(5):432-40.

McDonnell MN, Bryan J, Smith AE, Esterman A. Assessing cognitive impairment following stroke. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 2011:3:1-9

McDonnell MN, Smith AE, Mackintosh SF. Aerobic exercise to improve cognitive function in adults with neurological disorders: A systematic review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 2011;92:1044-52

Hillier SL, McDonnell M. Vestibular rehabilitation for unilateral peripheral vestibular dysfunction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005397. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005397.pub3.

McDonnell MN, Thompson PD, Ridding MC. The effect of cutaneous input on intracortical inhibition in focal task-specific dystonia. Movement Disorders, 2007;22:1286-92

McDonnell MN, Hillier SL, Miles TS, Thompson PD, Ridding MC. Influence of combined afferent stimulation and task-specific training following stroke: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 2007;21:435-443

McDonnell MN, Orekhov Y and Ziemann U. Suppression of LTP-like plasticity in human motor cortex by the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen. Experimental Brain Research, 2007;180:181-186

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

McDonnell MN and Ridding MC. Transient motor evoked potential suppression following a complex sensorimotor task. Clinical Neurophysiology, 2006;117:1266-1272

McDonnell MN, Orekhov Y and Ziemann U. The Role of GABAB receptors in intracortical inhibition in the human motor cortex. Experimental Brain Research, 2006;173:86-93

McDonnell MN and Ridding MC. Afferent stimulation facilitates performance on a novel motor task. Experimental Brain Research, 2005;170:109-115

McDonnell MN, Ridding MC, Flavel SC, Miles TS. Effect of human grip strategy on force control in precision tasks. Experimental Brain Research, 2005;161:368-373

McDonnell MN, Ridding MC, Miles TS. Do alternate methods of analysing motor evoked potentials give comparable results? Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 2004;136:63-67

McDonnell M and Warden-Flood A. Effect of partial foot anaesthesia on normal gait. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 2000;46:115-120

My publications on Scopus

Expertise for Media Contact

I am able to provide media comment in the following areas of expertise:

Discipline: Physiotherapy

  • Rehabilitation
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroplasticity

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