Dr Sophia Hulbert
Lecturer in Physiotherapy
School of Health Professions (Faculty of Health)
Clinical Academic Physiotherapist working for both the University of Plymouth and the National Health Service as well as in the private sector. I have a focus in the neurological field across both academic activity and clinical practice specialising in the rehabilitation of Parkinson’s and complex Neurological conditions.
My research work focuses on the role of physiotherapy and the performing arts for neurological conditions and frailty (see Research for more details) as well as the role of self-management in promoting and achieving a fulfilling, positive and enriching quality of life for those living with long-term neurological conditions.
Alongside my roles as a Researcher and Physiotherapist, I am also the co-founder of the internationally recognised, evidenced based dance for Parkinson's programme -Parkinson's Dance Science (PDS). Within its ten-year history, PDS is unique it is interplay of dance, rehabilitation and research, with the influence of this work being recognised through a the 'Once Dance UK 2022 Nomination'.
I have a dedication and passion for implementing novel and exciting research and rehabilitation into practice, presenting work nationally and internationally across the scientific, health and artistic communities. I strive to better understand how the arts and rehabilitation sciences can combine to provide fulfilling experiences for people living with long-term health conditions.
I completed my Undergraduate study at the University of Exeter in Exercise and Sport Science (2001- 2004) going on to complete the Pre-Registration Masters degree in Physiotherapy at Kings College London (2005-2007). From there I entered clinical practice, gaining rotational experience across in the 'core' inpatient and outpatient disciplines within the NHS setting. Following this I fully specialised in Neurological rehabilitation working in a large brain injury unit, supporting patients from High Dependency all the way through to independent living. During this time, I also worked in the private sector offering bespoke, intensive domiciliary rehabilitation to people with complex neurological needs and long-term conditions as well as starting the therapeutically underpinned dance practice - Parkinson's Dance Science.
I completed my PhD at the University of Southampton looking at the effect of dance in Parkinson's as part of a larger NIHR RfPB trial and continued my my clinical and dance roles alongside this. Following my PhD, I remained at the university to complete a Post-Doctoral fellowship as the Lead Therapist in the large, Multi-center clinical trial PD SAFE. I completed my second Post-doc at the University of Exeter again looking at the effect of dance complexities using novel mixed methodologies as well as a Research Assistant role on the multi-center Clinical trial HERO (Home based exercise for the frail elderly).
Clinically, I was appointed as a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in complex Neurology in 2016 with the developmental role of Therapy lead for the Parkinson's service, promoting evidenced based practice as well as research activity to build a new NHS service. In support of this I was appointed as a Lecturer in Physiotherapy at the University of Plymouth, embedding my clinical and research experience into the teaching of both neurological and long-term condition topics, across all health care disciplines, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.
Member of Health Professionals Council – HPC No: PH83533
Member of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – CSP No: 080212 & ACPIN
Member of People Dancing and One Dance
Member of Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK/Live well and Dance with Parkinson's – Steering group member
Member of Parkinson’s Excellence Network
Member of Arts in Health SW & Arts Health ECR Network
Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
Roles on external bodies
Co-founder and National Lead – ‘Parkinson Dance Science’ Training events 2015/19/22, Mentoring and CPD Events 2015-2022
Lead Facilitator – Dance for Parkinson’s/ 'Live well and Dance with Parkinson's, People Dancing (National) 2014 - 2022
Faculty Member – Movement Disorders Physiotherapy Parkinson’s Summer School, 2017
In addition to my clinical skills and leadership experience, I have also continually sought to share my knowledge and experience through teaching practice.
I currently hold a Lectureship at the University of Plymouth on both the undergraduate and postgraduate Physiotherapy courses as well as Module leadership of the postgraduate course ADV768 Advance Assessment and Management in Complex Neurology. My novel and innovative approach to learning and dissemination has gained national recognition and am often invited to teach and mentor in the practice of arts in health across the country.
I have successfully supervised four MSc students to completion and am currently supervising three further MSc students and a PhD Student at the University of Exeter. I have also supervised many students on clinical placement throughout my career and greatly enjoy using my clinical experience and knowledge from both the health and arts sectors to inspire others, whilst finding a shared learning experience extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
I have mentored numerous dance professional in the context of Dance for Health and greatly enjoy the interplay of health, academic and arts based knowledge sharing in these contexts.
- Neurological rehabilitation
- Frailty and Falls
- Self-management in long term conditions
- Novel Mixed method approaches
I have been fortunate to develop advanced academic and research skills, through completion of an MSc, PhD and three Post-doctoral fellowships. The focus of my research has been predominantly in the rehabilitation of people living with Parkinson's with particular interest in novel methods and interventions to promote physical self-management, wellbeing and enhanced quality of life in those living with long -term conditions. I am particularly interested in the use of novel mixed methodologies to retain the complexity of rehabilitation intervention against the complexity of living with a long-term condition. This has given me skills in anything from lab-based human physiology and biomechanical approaches to community arts practice in the social sector.
My ability to reach across the arts, academic and health sectors has enabled me to run many novel community embedded research studies in the 'real world practice context' including the largest, long-term study of dance for Parkinson’s in the world - 'Why Dance'. I am also particularly passionate about the accessibility and reach of my dissemination outputs, seeking novel and enjoyable way's to share new knowledge - some of which are linked below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDCqebUuBSw – An artistic presentation of the longitudinal research project – ‘Why Dance’
https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/753785677 - A research dissemination film of the feasibility study - ‘Seeing inside my moving body’
https://vimeo.com/122531753 - A 2 year co-creation film project exploring dancers experiences of being diagnosed with Parkinson's.
Grants & contracts
One Dance UK, Health and Wellbeing Nominee 2022
University of Plymouth PIHR Arts collaboration Grant - £2000
Parkinson’s UK – Service development award (2022) - £7500
Parkinson’s UK – Service development award (2020) - £11,000
Dance for Parkinson’s Partnership UK - Steve Brown Bursary Award (2018-2019) - £2000
ICA/HEE Southwest Clinical Academic Career Programme- Post-Doctoral Award (2017/2018)- £25,000
Future Academic Leaders (FALP) programme – Faculty delegate award 2016
Faculty of Health Sciences, 3MT competition- People’s choice award 2014
NIHR New Media Competition- Improving balance through dance - First prize 2014 - £1000
1. Hulbert S, Chivers-Seymour K, Summers R et al. 2021. ‘PDSAFE’ - a multi-dimensional model of falls-rehabilitation for people with Parkinson’s. A mixed methods analysis of therapists’ delivery and experience. Physiotherapy. Mar;110:77-84
2. Hulbert S, Hunt C, Fullam J, Goodwin V. 2020. ‘Digital Dancing’ – ‘Can you see, what I feel’– An exploration of the physical ‘experience’ of dance for Parkinson’s through 3-dimensional motion analysis. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine. 52. doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2020.102508
3. Hulbert, S & Goodwin, V. 2020 ‘Mind the Gap’ – A scoping review of long-term, physical self-management in Parkinson’s. Physiotherapy.107, 88-99
4. Rosewell A, Ashburn A, Fitton C, Goodwin V. Hulbert S et al. 2020 Participant expectations and experiences of a tailored physiotherapy intervention for people with postural instability, falls and Parkinson’s. Disability and Rehabilitation. DOI.org/10.1080/09638288.2020.1779824
5. Ashburn A, Pickering R, Mcintosh E, Rochester L, Roberts H, Nieuwboer A, Kunkel D. Goodwin V, Lamb S, Ballinger C, Hulbert S et al. 2019. A Randomised Controlled Trial of the Effectiveness of PDSAFE to prevent Falls among People with Parkinson's Disease- HTA Full report. https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/programmes/hta/105721/#/
6. Chivers-Seymour K, Pickering R, Rochester L, Roberts H, Nieuwboer A, Ballinger C, Hulbert S et al. 2019. Multicentre, randomised controlled trial of PDSAFE, a physiotherapist-delivered fall prevention programme for people with Parkinson’s. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2018-319448
7. Hulbert S, Ashburn A, Roberts L, Verheyden G. 2017 Dancing with Parkinson’s – The effects on whole body co-ordination during turning. Complimentary Therapies in Medicine, 32: 91-97
8. Hulbert S, Rochester L, Nieuwboer A, Goodwin V et al. 2017 ‘Staying Safe – A Narrative Review of Falls Prevention in People with Parkinson’s -'PDSAFE'. Disability and Rehabilitation, DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1471167.
9. Kunkel D, Robison, J, Fitton, C, Hulbert S et al. 2017 It takes two: the influence of dance partners on the perceived enjoyment and benefits during participation in partnered ballroom dance classes for people with Parkinson’s. Disability and Rehabilitation. DOI:10.1080/09638288.2017.1323029
10. Kunkel D, Fitton C, Robert L, Pickering R, Roberts H, Wiles R, Hulbert S et al. 2017 The feasibility of a randomized controlled trial exploring partnered ballroom dancing for people with Parkinson’s disease. Clinical Rehabilitation, July 2017
11. Hulbert S. 2016 Thesis: ‘Dancing with Parkinson’s’ – An exploration of the teaching and the impact of whole body coordination during turning. University of Southampton
12. Hulbert S, Roberts L, Verheyden G, Ashburn A. 2014 A Narrative review of the difficulties in turning for people with Parkinson’s disease. Disability and Rehabilitation.
13. Ashburn A, Roberts L, Pickering R, Roberts H, Wiles R, Kunkel D, Hulbert S et al. 2014 A Design to Investigate the Feasibility and Effects of Partnered Ballroom Dancing on People With Parkinson Disease: Randomized Controlled Trial Protocol. JMIR Research Protocols, 3 (3), p1-9
1. Hulbert S. 2019 Parkinson’s Dance Science – Dancing the Science and ‘scienc’ing’ the dance. SW Research Event, Invited Key Speaker.
2. Hulbert S, Fullam J, Hunt C, Goodwin V. 2019 ‘Digital Dancing’ – ‘Can you see, what I feel’– An exploration of the physical ‘experience’ of dance for Parkinson’s through 3-dimensional motion analysis. Complimentary. Poster Presentation, WPC, Japan 2019
3. Hulbert S, & Goodwin V, 2019. ‘Mind the Gap; - A Scoping review of long-term, physical self-management in Parkinson’s. Poster Presentation, WPC, Japan 2019
4. Hulbert S, Chivers-Seymour K, Ashburn A. 2019 Falls rehabilitation for people with Parkinson;s. A mixed methods analysis of therapists’ delivery and experience. Poster Presentation, WPC, Japan 2019
5. Hulbert S, 2018.The need of an integrated, multi-dimensional model for falls prevention in people with Parkinson’s - PDSAFE. ACPIN platform presentation.
6. Xin Y, Ashburn A, Pickering R, Hulbert S et al. 2018 ‘Cost-effectiveness of the PDSAFE home-based personalized physiotherapy intervention to prevent falls among people with Parkinson’s: an economic evaluation alongside a randomised controlled trial’ ISPOR 2018 Asia Pacific Tokyo poster presentation
7. Chivers-Seymour K, Marian I, Pickering R, Rochester L, Roberts H, Nieuwboer A, Ballinger C, Fitton C, Hulbert S, et al. 2017 A multi-centre RCT of a falls prevention programme (PDSAFE) for people with Parkinson’s: Study design and Baseline Characteristics of Participants. WCPT, Cape Town –Poster presentation
8. Hulbert S, Rochester L, Nieuwboer A, Goodwin V et al. 2017 ‘Staying Safe’ The need for an integrated multi-dimensional model for falls prevention in people with Parkinson’s – ‘PDSAFE’. WCPT, Cape Town – Selected Neurology focus poster walk presentation
9. Hulbert S, Ashburn A, Roberts L, Verheyden G. 2015 ‘Dancing with Parkinson’s’ – The effects of whole body co-ordination during turning. WCPT poster presentation 2015.
10. Hulbert S, Roberts L, Verheyden G, Ashburn A. 2014 Towards a better understanding of turning in people with Parkinson’s. ISPGR 2014
11. Hulbert S, Roberts L, Verheyden G, Ashburn A. 2014 The effects of Ballroom Dancing on turning ability in people with Parkinson’s. Dance for PD Network UK Conference 2014
12. Hulbert S, Roberts L, Verheyden G, Ashburn A. 2013 A feasibility study of whole body co-ordination during turning, in people with Parkinson’s. Faculty of Health Sciences Postgraduate Conference 2013, University of Southampton
13. Hulbert S, Roberts L, Verheyden G, Ashburn A. 2013 A feasibility study of whole body co-ordination during turning, in people with Parkinson’s. Research on Ageing Exhibition, University of Southampton
1. Hulbert, S. 2021 ‘Why Dance’ – A long-term feasibility study to evaluate an existing community dance class for people with Parkinson’s using the Parkinson’s Dance Science approach. https://www.pdsw.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Why-Dance-Summary-Report-word-April-21-PDF.pdf.