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Bernadette Murphy, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Bernadette Murphy, PhD Bernadette Murphy, PhD

Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies; and Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

Leading researcher focused on how altering afferent input from the spine and limbs affects sensorimotor integration and motor control



Throughout her international research career, Bernadette Murphy, PhD, has made a significant contribution to increasing the understanding of how the brain and body are connected in preventing and rehabilitating chronic neck and back pain. Dr. Murphy is a Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), founding Head of Kinesiology, and Director of the university’s world-class Human Neurophysiology and Rehabilitation Lab.

A registered Chiropractor for 25 years, her research inspiration stems from her desire to understand the complexities of her patients’ conditions and reduce their risk of injury. She treated many patients with chronic pain resulting from untreated repetitive strain injury (RSI) of the upper limb, which was not well understood.

This motivated her to pursue a PhD aimed at understanding how repetitive activity affects muscle sensation, and Dr. Murphy completed her Doctorate in Human Neurophysiology at University of Auckland (UoA), New Zealand in 1998. Her doctoral research showed that people were not able to perceive the development of injury and only became aware of RSI once pain had developed, by which time faulty movement patterns were ingrained; shifting strain that started in the muscles to the brain. This discovery guided the trajectory of her career aimed at better understanding connections between the brain and the muscles, and how changing feedback to the brain affects its capacity to adapt positively or negatively to incoming sensory information.

While a practicing Chiropractor in New Zealand, she became a Lecturer in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at UoA in 1999; in 2002 she was appointed tenured Senior Lecturer; and in 2003 she established a Master of Science in Exercise Rehabilitation program and served as Program Director until 2007. After 19 years as a practicing Chiropractor in New Zealand, she returned to Canada in 2007 to the role of founding Head of Kinesiology at UOIT, and appointed full Professor in 2010.

Industry Expertise (5)

Government Relations



Health and Wellness


Areas of Expertise (7)

Chronic Back and Neck Pain

Exercise for Chronic Health Conditions

Neural Adaptation and Learning

Neural Effects of Exercise

Neurophysiology of Musculoskeletal Treatments

Overuse Injuries

Sensorimotor Integration

Accomplishments (3)

Professor, Head of Kinesiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UOIT (professional)


Dr. Murphy is the founding head of UOIT’s Kinesiology program, and director of the Human Neurophysiology and Rehabilitation Lab. She teaches undergraduate courses in Exercise Rehabilitation and Kinesiology, and graduate studies in Neuroscience in Rehabilitation Kinesiology. She has supervised the award-winning research of her PhD and Master’s students; including the development of novel approach using transcranial magnetic stimulation to study changes in cerebellar excitability.

Chiropractor and Adjunct Professor, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) (professional)


Dr. Murphy has been a practicing chiropractor in Canada for five years, and has been appointed adjunct professor with CMCC; a world leader in chiropractic education and research.

Editorial Board, Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association (JCCA) (professional)


Dr. Murphy currently serves on the editorial board of the JCCA, the peer-reviewed, quarterly research publication of the Canadian Chiropractic Association.

Education (4)

Queen's University: BA, Life Sciences 1985

Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College: Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) Degree 1989

University of Auckland: MSc, Physiology 1992

First Class Honours

University of Auckland : PhD, Physiology 1998

Affiliations (1)

  • Queen's University Alumni

Event Appearances (6)

The role of spinal manipulation in modulating neuroplasticity

Special Symposium SS2.2: The potential role of spinal manipulation in neurorehabilitation; International Conference on Neurorehabilitation  Aalborg, Denmark


I just hit my elbow and bit my tongue so something is not right with my neck-understanding how neck problems can lead to disordered sensorimotor integration

Visiting scholar presentation  Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College


Neurophysiological Effects of Spinal Manipulation

Invited talk to School of Human Kinetics and Recreation  Memorial University, Newfoundland


Train your brain-The role of exercise in promoting hippocampal activation and improving memory in people with depression

Durham Region Mental Health Hope, Health and Humour Symposium  Durham Region


Approaches to measuring altered neural processing

Presented at CIHR/CCRF Research Symposium, A transdisciplinary approach to neuromusculoskeletal health, injury and disease: collaborative engagement in chiropractic research  Toronto, Ontario


The strain is in the brain: the role of chiropractic in modulating central neural plasticity

Presented to CMCC student research symposia  CMCC