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Dr. Fiona Wilson

Associate Professor (Physiotherapy)

I have over 30 years of clinical and research experience Sports and Exercise Medicine; my research answers clinically relevant questions and has influenced practice in coaching and sports medicine. I aim to understand athletes' pain and injury, to support their performance, welfare and safety in the short term, and their health and wellbeing through their life trajectory. I do this by exploring injury prevention, early recognition and optimal management strategies (injury treatment). My research focus is the role of sport and exercise on low back pain (LBP) and on brain health. I explore: i) epidemiology to identify injury risk factors, and ii) biomechanics to explain mechanisms associated with risk. ii) Knowledge translation (through evidence synthesis) for end users (clinicians, athletes and sport support staff). I explore and apply exercise medicine principles in the management of chronic disease and pain across populations, beyond athletes. My particular focus is on management of arthritis and low back pain using exercise and activity approaches. I used a shared decision making methodology to empower people to self-manage long term conditions with exercise and activity, which is appropriate and meaningful to their lifestyle. I have an interest in knowledge translation; ensuring that research I publish is clinically meaningful, and I create outputs to support clinicians. I had a long clinical career culminating in senior hospital appointments and as lead physiotherapist for Rowing Ireland for 10 years. I still treat patients to ensure that my research outputs are relevant. The impact of my research is demonstrated in the following: . My appointment as a policy advisor and knowledge translator to international sporting bodies. I am representing leadership from Ireland in these appointments: o World Rowing (governing body of international rowing) as the first physiotherapist and Irish person to be appointed to the Sports Medicine Commission. From 2018-2020 I led an international consortium (14 experts) to create global policy for managing rowing back pain. This published 2021 Low Back Pain (LBP) Consensus Statement is the gold standard reference document for rowers. I created policies for return to training following Covid and was part of a committee creating policies for rowing to facilitate safe running of the 2020 Olympic Games. o World Rugby appointed me as part of Brain Health Scotland to create education materials on athlete brain health; webinars and MOOCs. o The international rugby boards in Ireland (IRFU) and England (RPA) appointed me to advise on player welfare and research strategies. o The International Olympic Committee (IOC) invited me to give seminars on their Sports Medicine Diploma. o I was invited by a consortium of international experts on athlete brain health (the Global Athlete Brain Health Foundation) to chair their subgroup 'Prevention' and am leading research with this international expert consortium. o Appointment to the International Parkrun Research Board as a Sports Medicine expert. I am a Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Sports Medicine; the highest ranking sports and exercise medicine journal globally. I am also Deputy Editor of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, leading their Injury Prevention subsection. I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Sport Sciences and the German Journal of Sports Medicine.
  ARTHRITIS   ATHLETE   athlete brain health   Concussion   Exercise Medicine   junior soccer injury epidemiology   LOW BACK PAIN   lumbar spine injury and low back pain   ROWING   rowing injury epidemiology   rugby
 Brain Health and Wellness in Retired Athletes
 Care Pathway for Rowing Low Back Pain
 Blood biomarkers as an assessment of brain health in professional rugby
 Assessment of lifetime history of concussion
 Cardiovascular Health in professional rugby

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Details Date
Chief physiotherapist Irish Rowing Team 1996 -2006
FISA Sports Medicine Commission 2019-present
British Journal of Sports Medicine Editorial Panel 2015-present
Anna Liffey Boat Club (TCD alumni club)- President 2018-present
International Congress for Athlete Brain Health (injury prevention) 2019-present
IRFU Research Committee 2018-present
Student Sport Ireland Medical Advisory Group 2020
British Journal of Sports Medicine Deputy Editor 2020
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: Deputy Editor 2020
Rugby Players' Association (England) Welfare Advisory Group 2021
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
FISA Sports Medicine Commission 2019
Member of the Irish Society Of Chartered Physiotherapists 1997
Student Sport Ireland Medical Advisory Group 2020
National Neurotrauma Society 2019 2020
Maguire S, Wilson F, Gallagher P, O'Shea F, , Worse scores but similar patterns of disease activity: interpreting outcomes in women with axial spondyloarthropathy, Worse scores but similar patterns of disease activity: interpreting outcomes in women with axial spondyloarthropathy, 00, 2022, p1 - 8, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Maguire S, Wilson F, Gallagher P, Mohamed M, Maher S, O'Shea F, , What to expect when women with axial spondyloarthritis are expecting: Prevalence of complications of pregnancies in women with axial spondyloarthritis, Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Maguire S, Wilson F, Gallagher P, O'Shea F, , Central Obesity in Axial Spondyloarthropathy: the Missing Link to Understanding Worse Outcomes in Women?, The Journal of Rheumatology, 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Kathryn Dane  , Ciaran Simms , Sharief Hendricks , Stephen W. West , Steffan Griffin , Frank J. Nugent , Garreth Farrell , David Mockler , Fiona Wilson, Physical and Technical Demands and Preparatory Strategies in Female Field Collision Sports: A Scoping Review, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
World Rugby, 'Staying on Top of Your Game: Rugby and Brain Health', You Tube, YouTube: @World Rugby Facebook: Twitter:, 2021, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED  URL
Maguire S, Wilson F, Gallagher P, O'Shea F, , Body mass index underestimates obesity in females with axial spondyloarthropathy, Arthritis and Rheumatology, American College of Rheumatology Annual Conference, Online, 04/11/21, 73, (Supp 10), 2021, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  URL
Maguire S, Wilson F, Gallagher P, O'Shea F, , High prevalence of abdominal obesity in females with axial spondyloarthropathy, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, EULAR, Online, June 2021, 80 (supp 1), 2021, pp738-, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  URL
Fiona Wilson, Synthesising evidence to create better management strategies for athlete low back pain. Lessons learned from 30 years of working with rowing back pain. , Sports Medicine and Health Summit, Hamburg, Germany, 20-24th April, 2021, German Sports Medicine Association, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED  URL
Wilson F, Forster B. , Preventing low back pain in sports- should we image and how do we interpret findings?, IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport, Monaco, 25-27 November, 2021, International Olympic Committee, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Wilson F, Thornton J, Time to ditch the planks, listen to what athletes really need and want...and other useful strategies for preventing athlete low back pain, IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury & Illness in Sport, Monaco, 25-27 November, 2021, International Olympic Committee, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED

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Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 'JOSPT Insights Episode 63: What works for managing low back pain in athletes.', Apple Podcasts and Spotify, JOSPT, 2021, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Wilson F, Ardern C. , 'What works for managing low back pain in athletes? with Dr Fiona Wilson', Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Episode 63, Apple Podcasts and Spotify, JOSPT, 2021, -, Broadcast, PUBLISHED
Fiona Wilson, Harnessing exercise to manage symptoms and enhance well-being in inflammatory arthritis, Arthritis Ireland: Sleep diet and exercise- impact on inflammation symposium, online, 15th April 2021, 2021, Arthritis Ireland, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Fiona Wilson, Ursula Fearion, Laura Durcan, Parkrun and arthritis; harnessing exercise in nature to manage symptoms and improve confidence and fitness, Parkrun Research Board - Seminar series 2021, online, 12th October, 2021, Parkrun Research Board, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
O'Grady M, O'Dwyer T, Connolly J, Condell J, Esquivel KM, O'Shea F, Gardiner P, Wilson F , Measuring spinal mobility using an inertial measurement unit system: A reliability study in Axial Spondyloarthritis, Diagnostics, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Fiona Wilson, CSEM Research Meetings - Online Journal Club. "You're the best liar in the world" Qualitative study of low back pain in athletes, CSEM Research Meetings Journal Club. , Queen Mary University of London (online), November 25th, 2020, Prof Dylan Morissey & QMUL, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Juergen Steinacker, Jo Hannafin, Mikio Hiura, Mike Wilkinson, Donia Koubaa, Piero Poli, Petra Zupet, Tomislav Smoljanovic, Kate Ackerman, Fiona Wilson, World Rowing Covid-19 pandemic. Return to training. Advice for post-peak and post-pandemic period. ,, May, 2020, p1 - 9, Report, PUBLISHED
Wilson F, Practical strategies for managing rowing Low back apin, FISA/World Rowing Coaching Conference. Berlin 21/23 November, Berlin, Germany, 21/23 November, 2018, FISA/ World Rowing, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Wilson F, Low back pain in sport, Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports and Exercise Medicine AGM, Dublin, Ireland, 20th July, 2018, CPSEM, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED
Wilson F, Back pain in sport, CPSEM AGM, Dublin, Ireland, 20th July, 2018, CPSEM, Invited Talk, PUBLISHED


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Award Date
Cochrane Fellowship November 2012
My research interests falls under three key themes: 1. Athlete low back pain I have published widely in this area since my original research in 1995. My focus has been on rowing related low back pain and has expanded to inform all sports. From 2018-2021, I led an international collaboration of global experts to create a consensus statement on rowing related back pain. This was underpinned by five supporting studies which were all published in the highest ranking journal in my field, the BJSM. It is represented on the World Rowing website and an infographic summarising recommendations is in rowing clubs across the world. These publications are now influencing practice across sports. My future objectives are to develop my research with a specific focus on exploring the experience of female and junior athletes. I will build on the outputs of our international consortium and I am leading them to define our strategy with an aim to develop statements for other sports. I have an ongoing junior athlete programme in collaboration with Boston Children's Hospital/ Micheli Sports Medicine Center. 2. Rugby health and wellbeing My focus to date has been on aspects of injury including hip health and tendinopathies and I have published in these areas in collaboration with Leinster Rugby and the IRFU. I have an ongoing study of concussion biomarkers and am leading a longitudinal programme of retired athlete brain health in collaboration with Rugby Players Ireland. I aim to continue my rugby health and wellbeing research. I will develop my current focus on the women's game exploring preparation and safety components and have an ongoing studies exploring kicking and tackling in women's' rugby. I will expand and develop the longitudinal retired athlete programme that I lead to specifically explore cardiovascular risk factors for dementia. Our concussion biomarkers programme will continue and we will publish the next phase to add to previous publications. I am working with Brain Health Scotland and the GBHI to create informations resources (webinars and MOOCS) to educate athletes on brain health. 3. Arthritis I have an ongoing research programme exploring the role of exercise and activity in managing symptoms and improving health and wellbeing in inflammatory arthritis. I have completed a number of studies exploring barriers to exercise and optimal modes of exercise and activity programmes for different subgroups of arthritis. These publications have influenced current practice and I have engaged in knowledge translation using platforms such as podcasts and webinars to support this. A current focus is on the experience of women with Axial Spondyloarthritis; exploring pregnancy experience and barriers to employment. My recent focus is working with public health policy to design large scale social prescription; specifically with Parkrun. I will also develop smaller scale research, building on the current female arthritis research at St James's Hospital which I am co-supervising. Within arthritis my focus will be on the disease experience in women and I have ongoing studies in this area.