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  • Awards & Affiliations


The Society recognises that some members have developed skills that enable them to be recognised as Specialists. Until 2019 the Society annually invited members to apply for the title of Specialist Member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (SMISCP). Going forward the SMISCP will be replaced with a Fellowship level of membership. 

What is SMISCP 

SMISCP is an honorary title and is not to be confused with the employment grade of clinical specialist.

Until 2019 Members of the ISCP were able to apply for the title of SMISCP in the following areas of physiotherapy:

Acupuncture; Education; Intellectual Disability; Management; Neurology; Musculoskeletal; Gerontology; Paediatrics; Sports Medicine; Cardio/Respiratory; Occupational Health & Ergonomics; Women's Health; Orthopaedics; Rehabilitation; Rheumatology; Oncology & Palliative Care, Primary Care, Aquatic Physiotherapy; Veterinary Physiotherapy and Women's Health.

Successful candidates are entitled to use the initials of SMISCP and have a certificate of membership that confirms their specialist status.

The title of SMISCP is an ‘active title' for employed members and therefore, should not  continue to be applied for /held once a member has retired or is no longer practicing.  The title holder must be a member of the Society for the duration of the five year term.


Current Specialist Members (SMISCP)




Sheelagh McNeill

Sheelagh graduated from Trinity College Dublin. After several years working in London and Dublin she was awarded her Licentiate in Acupuncture in 1986 followed by a B.Ac in 1998 from the British College of Acupuncture. She commenced work as a Private Practitioner using Acupuncture in 1986. Sheelagh has taught in the National College of Acupuncture, Dublin then on the Higher Diploma in Acupuncture in UCD and on the MSc Advanced Physiotherapy Practice Programme in the University of Ulster at Jordanstown. In 2003 she was awarded a D.Phil for her study in the “Use of Acupuncture in the Management of Musculoskeletal Problems”. Sheelagh was awarded Specialist Membership status by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists for the first time in 2005. The current term is a renewal of that status. Sheelagh has published several articles on Acupuncture. With Professor Suzanne McDonough, in 2008, she co-authored a chapter on Acupuncture in: Complementary Therapies for Physical Therapy: A Clinical Decision Making Approach. She was a founder member of CPA, the clinical interest group for Chartered Physiotherapists in Acupuncture. She is also an active member of the International Acupuncture Association of Physical Therapists (IAAPT) which is a sub group of WCPT and helped to develop IAAPT Safety Standards which were accepted at the WCPT Congress in Singapore (2015).




Brenda Deering

Brenda Deering received a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy degree from the University of Ulster in 2001.  After working a number of years as the COPD Outreach/Pulmonary Rehabilitation Co-ordinator in Beaumont Hospital, Brenda completed her Master’s Degree. The randomized controlled trial explored the benefits of Acupuncture as an Adjunct to Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the results were published in a peer review journal in 2011.   Since then, Brenda has been involved in multiple national and international research projects in the area of physical activity levels, cognition and exacerbation rates in patients with COPD leading to international peer review publications.  Brenda has provided expert physiotherapy option to international research groups involved in developing telemed monitoring and has co-chaired the Advance Physiotherapy Practice Forum (APPF), a sub-group of the Professional Development Standing Committee. The APPF, has helped to map and identify the needs of those physiotherapists working in advance practice roles in Ireland.  Brenda presently works as a senior physiotherapist in the Respiratory Integrated Care as part of the National Clinical Care Programme. In this capacity, Brenda has established a community based pulmonary rehabilitation programme for GP patients, developed a comprehensive respiratory physiotherapy assessment and treatment clinic in primary care for patients with COPD and Asthma and performs Spirometry testing for GP patients in a hospital Pulmonary Function Laboratory alongside the respiratory physiologists.


Karen Cradock

Karen has worked extensively in cardiac rehabilitation for over twenty years in Ireland, the UK, New Zealand and Australia. Currently she lectures and tutors in the undergraduate programme in UCD and runs Heart 2 Heart Physiotherapy Clinics in Dublin and Kildare, a physiotherapy practice specialising in cardiac rehabilitation.  She chairs the National Irish Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation guidelines committee and sits on the committee exploring the use of telemetry in cardiac rehabilitation




Neasa De Búrca

Neasa De Búrca SMISCP Neasa graduated with an honours degree in physiotherapy in 1998 from UCD. After graduating she worked primarily in the area of sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapy both prior to completing a Masters of Sports Physiotherapy at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia in 2006 where she graduated first in her class. Following on from her Masters degree, Neasa completed a postgraduate certificate in health research with high distinction from Lancaster University in 2009. In 2009 she was also awarded SMISCP status in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Neasa is currently employed as a Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist in Orthopaedic Triage at Galway University Hospitals. She also runs her own private practice. Between 2008 and 2011 she lectured on a part time basis on the Bachelor of Physiotherapy Programme at University of Limerick. She has also been involved as a Lecturer and Board Member on the Master of Sports Medicine programme at NUI Galway. Since 2008, Neasa has developed and run post graduate education courses for physiotherapists. She also is involved in GP training in musculoskeletal medicine. Although working as a full time clinician, Neasa is active in research and has a number of publications in International peer reviewed journals including British Journal of Sports Medicine and Manual Therapy. She also acts as a reviewer for Manual Therapy. Neasa's research interests include management of shoulder dysfunction and lower limb injury prevention strategies.


Alison Quinn

Alison graduated in Physiotherapy from the University in Bristol in 1999. She subsequently completed a Masters in Sports in Physiotherapy in University College Dublin in 2005 winning the award for academic achievement. Following graduation Alison worked in the HSE for a number of years in addition to setting up her own private practice. She was also team physiotherapist in AIL rugby for several years. She became Head of Physiotherapy in the Sports Surgery Clinic in 2007, a new hospital specialising in sports medicine and orthopaedics. She set up the physiotherapy department from scratch and over the following 7 years expanded the department and developed many specialist musculoskeletal services focusing on the treatment and rehabilitation of patients pre-and post -orthopaedic surgery, patients with sports injuries and other musculoskeletal conditions. During this time she undertook a part-time role in Trinity College Dublin where she lectured in orthopaedics, sports medicine and spinal conditions, in addition to undertaking research and advising on phD projects. She has participated in research over the years and has published in international journals. She was a committee member on the ISCP Professional Development Committee in 2013-2014 and chaired the ISCP Conference Committee for 2014. She is a member of the working party on Paediatric Sports and Exercise Medicine in the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine (RCPI and RCSI). She is involved in the Straight2Swimming project in Belfast, a charity organisation that provides educational and exercise programmes to adolescents with scoliosis. She has fitness testing and developed rehabilitation programmes for several members of this group who are climbing Kiliminjaro in August 2015 with a medical team from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Crumlin. She is also involved in the Musculoskeletal Research Group in Trinity College Dublin, a collaboration of medical, bio-engineering and physiotherapy disciplines looking to collaborate in multi-disciplinary research projects. Alison works in private practice in Dublin specialising in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. In addition she guest lectures in Trinity College Dublin and RCSI. Her areas of interest are musculoskeletal biomechanics, testing, treatment and rehabilitation of conditions of the spine, pelvis and lower limb.


Niamh Moloney

Niamh Moloney qualified in 1998, completed her Masters of Manipulative Therapy (Curtin University) in 2003 and her PhD (University College Dublin) in 2012. She currently combines clinical practice with an Honorary Research Fellow position at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she was previously a Senior Lecturer. Her PhD (2012) and subsequent research focuses on the assessment of complex pain profiles in various musculoskeletal conditions and pain following breast cancer. She has over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has presented her research widely at international and national conferences, including as an invited speaker.  She has gained considerable funding for her research. She has a keen focus on translation of research into clinical practice, with projects underway implementing an acute low back pain model of care, reducing imaging for spinal pain in primary care, and developing a community pain service. She has taught musculoskeletal physiotherapy and pain science at under- and post- graduate levels since 2005. A key focus for her teaching is the integration of pain neuroscience and the International Association of Pain Curriculum into musculoskeletal clinical practice.


Louise Keating

Louise Keating SMISCP, MPhtySt (Manip), BPhysio is a Lecturer at the School of Physiotherapy, RCSI and a practising Clinical Specialist in Musculoskeletal Therapy. A physiotherapist for over 25 years, she has been involved in undergraduate and postgraduate musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy education for over 15 years, following attainment of her master’s degree from the University of Queensland. Her clinical experience includes touring with Riverdance. Her primary research interests are spinal pain, particularly neck disorders; and sports-related injury epidemiology. She has supervised post-graduate research in the areas of aerial artists’ performance-related injuries, falls risk and frailty evaluation in the elderly, pelvic organ prolapse in women, and the impact of antenna technology in footwear on gait and running characteristics. Research funders have included EuroSpine, SFI, HRB and the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP). Currently completing a PhD, she is the Principal Investigator of the EuroSpine-funded PACeR trial - a Randomised Controlled Trial of Multimodal Physiotherapy for people with Acute or Sub-acute Cervical Radiculopathy (  She is also co-PI on the SCRUm cohort study investigating Training Load and Injury Risk in Schoolboys’ Rugby. She has been awarded Specialist Membership (Musculoskeletal) of the ISCP and received an inaugural President’s Teaching Award in RCSI.   




Helen Kavanagh

Helen graduated from Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh in 2001. She completed her basic-grade rotations in Dublin before travelling to New Zealand and working in the area of spinal injuries. She began working in St. James' Hospital in 2005 as a senior in general medical/neurology. Her role has evolved in recent years to focus on the area of acute stroke and she has led the establishment of a specialist acute stroke physiotherapy service in St. James' hospital. She has been involved in several multi-disciplinary teams both within the hospital and in the community and is dedicated to furthering clinical excellence in the field of stroke. She completed a post-graduate diploma in neurological rehabilitation with the University of Western Australia in 2009. She then went on to conduct a research masters with Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 2012, which investigated the relationship between fatigue and the energy expenditure of gait following stroke. She has had many poster presentations at national and international conferences including the UK Stroke Forum and WCPT congress and won best poster at the ISCP conference 2013. She has been a physiotherapy representative on the Irish Heart Foundation's Council on Stroke since 2007 and contributed to the development of the National Clinical Guidelines and Recommendations for the Care of People with Stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attack and also a national foundation-level stroke education programme


Sports Medicine


Marie-Elaine Grant

Marie-Elaine Grant (Ph.D.), Ireland’s Olympic Team Lead Physiotherapist from 1990 – 2010, a graduate of UCD ( University College Dublin) and a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists and was appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission (Games Group) in 2010. She is the first physiotherapist in Ireland to have been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University College Dublin (2013) in recognition of her achievements and contribution to Sports Physiotherapy. In 1981 Marie-Elaine graduated in Physiotherapy from UCD, since this time she has gained extensive experience working in renowned medical centres both at in Ireland and abroad which led her to specialising in sports physiotherapy. Following her graduation she started her career working in one of the University Hospital’s in Dublin, her first break came in 1982 when she was appointed to a physiotherapy position at the University Hospital in Geneva, offering her the opportunity to learn a wide spectrum of treatment techniques and further advance her knowledge and experience. In 1984 she went to the USA where she had the opportunity to do an internship in Sports and Orthopedic Physiotherapy. She returned to Ireland in 1985, and was appointed to commission and head the physiotherapy department and sports injury clinic of a leading Irish Hospital (Blackrock Clinic). During this time she developed a keen interest in sports physiotherapy and advanced her knowledge and expertise by successfully completing several validated post graduate courses in sports, musculo-skeletal, manual and biomechanical aspects of physiotherapy. At the same time advancing clinical experience and expertise in the treatment and rehabilitation of a wide range of sports injuries, committing many hours in the evening and at weekends as a volunteer physiotherapist supporting sports teams and aspiring young athletes. In 1990 she was appointed to the Irish Olympic Medical and Committee, in this role she planned and implemented a strategy for provision of high quality physiotherapy services for high performance athletes which required extensive work developing physiotherapy support networks and collaboration with medical teams working with sport’s National Governing Bodies. She has worked with many of Irelands Olympic athletes and developed injury prevention and screening programmes this initiative is now incorporated into athlete’s health and performance strategies. As lead physiotherapist to the Olympic Council of Ireland she was appointed to the Irish Olympic Team for 5 consecutive Summer Olympic Games commencing with Barcelona 1992 through to Beijing 2008 and also served with the Irish Winter Olympic Team in Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010. She has also worked extensively with developmental and youth athletes and was appointed to 10 Irish European Youth Olympic Squads. In 2010 she received an Olympic award from the Olympic Council of Ireland in recognition of outstanding contribution over 20 years in the advancement of physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation, together with development and implementation of injury prevention protocols for Ireland’s elite athletes both in their preparation for and during major Olympic events. In 1997 she started her own physiotherapy practice in Dublin where she continues to enjoy clinical practice particularly in her specialist area of sports and exercise physiotherapy providing expert assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries and sports related conditions from recreational to high performance athletes. Marie-Elaine was inspired by the commitment, focus and dedication of so many athletes which in turn inspired her to push the boundaries of her clinical understanding by undertaking further learning by scientific research. She was awarded a PhD in 1997, the title of her research thesis was: Evaluation of the Effects of Spinal Strengthening using a Sports Medicine Exercise Approach, which was supervised by the emininent Emeritus Professor Craig Sharp former co- founder of the British Olympic Medical Centre and renowned leader in sports science. Marie-Elaine continues to participate in clinical research. She has had peer reviewed publications and regularly presents and gives workshops at international conferences most recently presenting workshops on Achilles Tendinopathy with Professor Håkan Alfredson at the 2014 IOC World Conference on Prevention of Injury and Illness in Sport. In her professional capacity has been appointed to Nation and International advisory bodies: in 2002 she was appointed as Physiotherapy representative on CAFDIS (Concerted Action in the Fight against Drugs in Sport) an EU/IOC collaborative project in 2002, and was responsible for developing the anti doping charter for physiotherapists. She has chaired the CPSEM (Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine) accreditation review board, and was actively involved the development and implementation of sports physiotherapy accreditation in Ireland over initial introductory 5 year phase ensuring that Irish Sports Physiotherapy accreditation standards met with the standards as recommended by the IFSPT. In 2013 she was appointed as an associate member of the UCD Institute of Sports and Health and more recently in 2015 to the adviory board for the IOC Diploma post graduate course in Physical Therapies studies. She lectures on third level BSc Physiotherapy programmes and post-graduate MSc programmes in Sports and Exercise Physiotherapy for Universities in Ireland and has also been an external examiner. She supervises clinical placements for final year physiotherapy students and mentors post graduates in the field of sports physiotherapy. Through Olympic Solidarity she has also give sports physiotherapy education to developing nations particularly in Africa. In 2010 Marie-Elaine was appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s ( IOC) Medical Commission Games Group, in this role Marie-Elaine is responsible for monitoring all physiotherapy activities and facilities for the 205 nations participating at an Olympic Games ( Winter and Summer) and is the main contact person for the IOC for all issues related to physiotherapy and rehabilitation. This key aims of this role are to protect the health of the world’s Olympic athletes and advance the role of physiotherapy within the global Olympic movement. During the London 2012 Olympic Games, while athletes were in competition behind the scenes there was another important record being created – the IOC’s physiotherapy and physical therapy record in relation to injury prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery which she initiated with a view to analysis and research on Olympic physiotherapy activity. This research project was subsequently published: ‘The role of sports physiotherapy at the London 2012 Olympic Games’. BJSM 2014 Jan; 48(1):63-70. She was awarded Specialist Membership of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists in Sports Medicine in 2006 which has been renewed in 2013 for a second term. Marie-Elaine has been committed continues to further advance the role of sports physiotherapy within the IOC Medical Commission ensuring recognition of the very important role that physiotherapy plays in protecting the health of athletes and also in supporting their performance.


Garrett Coughlan

Garrett qualified from University College Dublin with a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy in 2004 and subsequently completed his PhD in lower limb injury and rehabilitation in 2007 from the same institution. He has worked extensively as a physiotherapist in a range of sports for the past decade. He has also published his research in academic journals and presented at national and international conferences in the areas of musculoskeletal screening, rehabilitation and injury prevention. Garrett worked for the IRFU for 5 years between before taking up the role of Lead Physiotherapist with Connacht Rugby in 2015.


John C. Murphy

John C is a Specialist Member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists.  He has worked in private practice since 1998 in Carysfort Clinic, Blackrock, County Dublin. He established Medfit Proactive Healthcare, a technologically advanced multi-disciplinary rehabilitation centre, in 2011.  His clinical focus is on optimising recovery post injury, illness or surgery.  Reducing recurrence rates & improving health- related quality of life are key outcome targets within his rehabilitation centre.  He has a keen interest in the behavioural component of rehabilitation, and its potential to positively influence chronic conditions including metabolic syndrome. He presented on this topic at both the 2015 and 2016 London Scope Obesity Conference, addressing the economic returns and implementation challenges associated with rehabilitation.Academically, John C graduated from UCD in 1996. He subsequently completed a research MSc in Physiotherapy, and a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies. He is a published lead author in both the American and British Journals of Sports Medicine. 16 other co-authorships since 2010 cross a variety of research fields, including obesity, muscle retention in the over- 65’s, and injury prevention models in sports. He established the GAA Injury Prevention Program in 2006, specifically to begin the process of data collection and analysis, to inform injury prevention strategies. His current research outside of sport relates to weight management and the improvement of joint, muscle, and cardiac function in the over-60 age group.




Judith O'Connell

Judith graduated with a BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy from University College Dublin in 2002.  She has 13 years of experience working in paediatrics, particularly in the areas of developmental delay and neuro rehabilitation. In early 2003 she moved to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin where she worked as a rotational physiotherapist in general paediatric physiotherapy for 18 months before becoming a Senior Physiotherapist in Neurology/Neurodevelopmental Therapy.  During her 7 years working in Crumlin, Judith was responsible for the assessment and treatment of infants and children with developmental delay and neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, and stroke.  She completed her Bobath/NDT in London in 2005 and has done follow up courses since then to maintain her skills. Judith graduated with MSc Physiotherapy from Cardiff University in 2010.  In May 2010 Judith joined the physiotherapy team in Temple Street Children’s University Hospital as Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist. In this role she has specialised in assessment and treatment of children with neurological conditions such as brain injury, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, brain tumours and stroke. She was also deputy manager of the physiotherapy department from September 2014 to May 2015.  Currently Judith works part time as Practice Tutor in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin. She has also recently started a private paediatric clinic in South Dublin, working with a multidisciplinary team.


Paula Loughnane

Biography to follow





Application Forms & Guidance

Application Forms and Guidance are reviewed annually. The Application forms below are provided as an example for those who may be interested in applying for Specialist Membership