Ms Heather Hunter

Ms Heather Hunter

Associate Professor in Physiotherapy

School of Health Professions (Faculty of Health)

Ms Heather Hunter can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Physiotherapy education


Associate Professor and Academic Lead for the BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy Programme. I am responsible for the strategic overview of the physiotherapy programme at Plymouth University as well as the quality assurance of the BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy programme. Therefore I have responsibility for the quality of the provision provided to students and I ensure that the programme meets all of the professional requirements of our regulatory body: Health Care Professions Council HCPC; our professional body Chartered Society of Physiotherapy as well as all of the quality assurance mechanisms of the university. 
I lead a team of dedicated professionals who are committed to providing exemplary, research informed teaching, a wide range of assessments appropriate to professional practice and provide constructive feedback to students to enhance their performance. This is evidenced by high levels of student satisfaction and feedback as well as external examiner reports. 
As well as managing the programme I am involved in research informed teaching and I teach across a number of areas including Cardio-respiratory and Cardiovascular Conditions;  Health promotion and exercise for respiratory and older people as well Inter-professional modules in managment and leadership.
I am on the external examiner register and I am an external examiner for an MSc Programme in Bangalore India.
Since April 2017 I have been enrolled on a part time PhD: Strategies to enhance physical activity in people with Parkinson's Disease. 


BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy MSc. MCSP Member of the chartered Society of Physiotherapy
I qualified as a physiotherapist from the University of East London (In conjunction with the Royal London Hospital) in 1989.
My initial experience was as a rotational physiotherapist at Plymouth Hospitals Trust. After two years experience in an acute teaching hospital I wanted to gain further experience in rehabilitation and I achieved this by obtaining a senior post in  care of the elderly and subsequently in a neuro-rehabilitation unit treating people with acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and stroke.
My last post was as a Senior Physiotherapist with the Plymouth Reablement Team. During this time I gained invaluable experience in treating patients with a variety of respiratory, neurological, and musculo-skeletal problems and complex multi-pathology. I really enojyed treating patients in their own homes and designing individualised treatment programmes based on patients goal. It was great to work in an inter-professional team,  working with GP's and Social Services to ensure patients were able to stay at home.
It was during this time that I undertook a masters degree part time and in 2000 I was awarded an MSc in Physiotherapy at the University of Cardiff (Modules in research and statistics, professional development, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, neuro rehabilitation).
Following the successful commissioning of the degree programme in Plymouth I was one of the first members of the physiotherapy team and started work at the University of Plymouth in September 2004. I was instrumental in designing the  first Problem based learning modules in cardio-respiratory.
Following on from that I have assisted in developing a number of new modules both profession specific and inter-professional. My roles have included being a year tutor and programme lead, and associate professor since 2012. Recently i have taken on the role of Academic Lead for the profession 

Professional membership

Member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Health Care Professional council HCPC registered
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2010
External Examiner both Undergraduate  and Post Graduate programme nationally and inter nationally 
Council Member CSP 2013-2017 (Served on various committees - Employment, Education, Finance).

Roles on external bodies

Council Representative  Chartered Society of Physiotherapy South West Region. Previous chair of regional network from 2010 - 2012.  This forum promotes a two way dialogue between central CSP and local members on a wide range of both national and local priorities. 

Sept 2013 - November 2017 South West Regional Representative to CSP Council and have sat on a number of committees, attended Physio UK and the annual representative conference.
Please view the southwest regional home page -via 



Teaching interests

Module teacher  and/ or  module lead for  a number of undergraduate modules in cardio-respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Postgraduate module lead Enhancing Chronic Pulmonary Conditions. Other areas of teaching interest are exercise prescription and the promotion of active aging, professional issues and management and leadership. Research supervisor for research projects and both undergraduate and post graduate levels.

Staff serving as external examiners

On CSP external examiner list since December 2010 and currently exernal examiner for Cardiff and Coventry Undergraduate Physiotherapy programmes.



Research interests

Registered for PhD April 2017 (part time): An exploration of physical activity in people with Parkinson's disease: supporting engagement and long term participation.As part of this process I have had a systematic review protocol published and am currently writing up the systematic review: Experiences of people with Parkinson's disease and their view on physical activity. 

MSc dissertation: A pragmatic randomised controlled trial to determine the effects of a task-specific programme for lower limbs and a quadriceps strength training programme on function, strength and levels of spasticity in community dwelling chronic stroke patients.
clinical research interest:  inspiratory muscle training / high intensity interval training HIT/  exercise training in neurological and cardio-respiratory populations



Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Zeun D & Hunter H (2023) 'Physiotherapy management of functional movement disorders: the patient perspective' Disability and Rehabilitation 1-9 , DOI Open access
Hunter H & Gorst T (2019) 'Co-production with people with Parkinson's disease: making physical activity effective, meaningful and sustainable' JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports 17, (4) 442-443 , DOI Open access
Hunter HD, Lovegrove C, Haas B, Freeman J & Gunn H (2019) 'Experiences of people with Parkinson's disease and their views of physical activity interventions: a qualitative systematic review' JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports , DOI Open access
Hunter H, Lovegrove C, Haas B, Freeman J & Gunn H (2017) 'Experiences of people with Parkinson's disease and their views of physical activity interventions: a qualitative systematic review protocol' JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports 15, (11) 2619-2623 Author Site , DOI Open access
Haas B, Cinnamond S, Hunter H & Marsden J (2016) 'Factors associated with limited exercise capacity and feasibility of high intensity interval training in people with mild to moderate Parkinson's disease' International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation , DOI Open access
Gunn H, Hunter H & Haas B (2012) 'Problem Based Learning in physiotherapy education: a practice perspective' Physiotherapy 98, (4) 330-335
Gunn HJ, Hunter H & Haas B (2011) 'Problem Based Learning in physiotherapy education: a practice perspective' Physiotherapy , DOI Open access
Conference Papers
Gunn H, Hunter H & Haas BM (2009) 'An exploration of clinical educators’ perceptions of Physiotherapy students who are studying on a Problem Based Learning (PBL) undergraduate programme' Negotiating Problem Based Learning - 9th Finnish Problem-based Learning Conference Tempere, Finland 4-/-0/20094-/-0/2009


Conferences organised

Southwest Regional Network Conference Sept 2012 Outcome measures
Southwest Regional Network Conference Sept 2013 Physiotherapy for the future.

Other academic activities

Chair of the Southwest Physiotherapy Respiratory Interest Group 2009-2015) whose mission is to promote Education, Knowledge and Research in the area of Cardiorespiratory.
Study days organised April 2010 Rehabiltiation in ITU: from start to finish
November 2010 Paediatric Respiratory Study Day
October 2011 Advanced Respiratroy Study Day (critical care / chronic care)
June 2014 Pulmonary Rehabilitation guidelines and updates on commissioning new respiratory services