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Michelle Ploughman

BioMedical Sciences
BScPT (Dalhousie), MSc (MUN), PhD (MUN), Postdoctorate (Atlantic endMS Research & Training Network)

Associate Professor of Medicine (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)

Clinical Research Scientist, Eastern Health Authority, Adjunct Professor, Dalhousie University School of Physiotherapy
Co-Director Rehabilitation Research Unit of Newfoundland and Labrador (RRUNL)
L.A. Miller Centre, 100 Forest Rd.
St. John’s NL Canada A1A 1E5
t: 709 777-2099


What brought me to MUN? What keeps me at MUN?
I was born in Labrador, grew up in Newfoundland and after attending university in Nova Scotia, returned to St. John’s to begin my career. When I decided to begin graduate studies I found Memorial University’s, Faculty of Medicine offered me the environment and opportunities I needed to be successful. Memorial University genuinely strives to meet its mission: to serve the people of Newfoundland & Labrador. You can see that every day in how it supports its faculty and students.
Post-doctoral fellow (CIHR):  “Health, lifestyle and aging with multiple sclerosis”
Atlantic endMS Regional Research and Training Network (supervisors Dr. JD Fisk, Dalhousie University and Dr. M Godwin, Memorial University) 2008-2012
PhD Neuroscience (with distinction): “The effects of exercise on neurotrophins, neuroplasticity and functional recovery in a rat model of focal ischemia” BioMedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University (supervisor Dr. D. Corbett) 2003-07
MSc Neuroscience: “An examination of constraint-induced therapy as a method to intensify intervention and improve functional outcome during the rehabilitation phase of stroke” BioMedical Science, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University (supervisor Dr. D Corbett) 2000-03
BSc Physiotherapy: Dalhousie University 1984-88

Physiotherapy Clinical Practice Leader in Neuroscience, Eastern Health, St. John`s NL (1991-2003 & 2007-08).  Most senior physiotherapist specializing in the rehabilitative management of neurological disorders including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, MS, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury; Member of the MS and Movement Disorders Provincial Clinics within Eastern Health.
Research/Teaching Summary:
Dr. Ploughman is a physiotherapist and neuroscientist; a recognized expert in neuroplasticity and neurorehabilitation in stroke and multiple sclerosis. Her research focuses on the effects of aerobic exercise, intensive training paradigms and lifestyle habits on the brain challenged by injury, disease and aging. Dr. Ploughman is a Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity, Neurorehabilitation and Brain Recovery. Her work is published in journals such as Stroke, Neuroscience, Brain Research and Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is the Principal Investigator for the Canadian Survey of Health, Lifestyle and Aging with Multiple Sclerosis, the largest study of aging with MS in Canada with over 740 participants from 10 study sites. Dr. Ploughman continues to practice as a neurological physiotherapist in St John’s and her Recovery and Performance Laboratory is located in the Rehabilitation Research Unit (RRUNL), L.A. Miller Centre, St. John’s NL.

Recent Distinctions and Awards

Caring Hearts Award:  Advocacy and Commitment to Education in Cerebrovascular Disease, Heart and Stroke Foundation Newfoundland & Labrador, 2018
Client Services Ambassador, MS Society of Canada, 2014-15

Visiting Scholar, Montreal Neurological Institute, CIHR Neuroinflammation Training Program 2014-15

Dr. Tony Hakim Stroke Recovery Research Award, Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery Research grant, 2013-14


  1. Chaves AR, Wallack EM, Kelly LP, Stefanelli M, Moore CS, Ploughman M. Asymmetry of Brain Excitability: A New Biomarker that Predicts Objective and Subjective Symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis. Behavioural Brain Research Nov 2018. IF 3.173 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432818309173?via%3Dihub
  1. Abraha, B., Chaves AR., Kelly LP, Wadden K., Wallack EM, McCarthy J., Ploughman M. A Bout of High Intensity Interval Training Lengthened Nerve Conduction Speed to the Non-Exercised Affected Limb in Chronic Stroke. Frontiers in Physiology July 2018
  1. Kirkland MC, Downer MB, Holloway BJ, Wallack EM, Lockyer EJ, Buckle NCM, Abbott CL, Ploughman M. Bipedal hopping timed with a metronome to detect impairments in anticipatory motor control in people with mild multiple sclerosis. Clinical Biomechanics April 2018.
  1. Barrett M, Snow JC, Kirkland MC, Kelly LP, Gehue M, Downer MB, McCarthy J, Ploughman M. Excessive Sedentary Time during In-Patient Stroke Rehabilitation. Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 2018 Apr 3:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10749357.2018.1458461.
  2. Wallack E, Harris C, Ploughman M., Butler R. Telegerontology as a novel approach to address health and safety by supporting community-based rural dementia care triads: randomized controlled trial protocol. Journal of Internet Medical Research Protocols 2018 Feb 22;7(2):e56. doi: 10.2196/resprot.8744.
  1. Crozier J, Roig M, Fung, J, Thiel A, Giacomoantonio N., Eng JJ, Mackay-Lyons Trivino M, Ploughman M, Sweet SN, Bailey DM, Tang A. High-Intensity Interval Training in Stroke: An Opportunity to Promote Neurorecovery and Cardiovascular Health in Stroke Rehabilitation. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair March 2018.
  1. Grover G, Ploughman M, Philpott DT, Kelly LP, Devasahayam AJ, Wadden K, Power KP, Button DC. Environmental temperature and exercise modality independently impact neuromuscular performance in people with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal- Experimental Translational Clinical 2017 Dec 21;3(4):2055217317747625. doi: 10.1177/2055217317747625. eCollection 2017 Oct-Dec.
  1. Ploughman M. As we enter a new era of multiple sclerosis rehabilitation, what can we learn from stroke? Invited Commentary The Lancet Neurology 2017 Oct;16(10):768-769. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(17)30301-0. 017 Sep 12. PMID:28920876.
  1. Kelly LP, Devasahayam AJ, Chaves AR, Wallack EM, McCarthy J, Basset FA, Ploughman M. Intensifying functional task practice to meet aerobic training guidelines in stroke survivors. Frontiers in Physiology (Clinical and Translational Physiology) 2017. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.00809
  1. Devasahayam, A.J, Downer M.B., Ploughman, M. The effects of aerobic exercise on the recovery of walking ability and neuroplasticity in people with multiple sclerosis: A systematic review of animal and clinical studies. Multiple Sclerosis International 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4815958
  1. Ploughman, M, Shears, J, Quinton, S, Flight, C, O'Brien, M, MacCallum, P, Kirkland, M.C, Byrne, J.M. Therapists’ Cues Influence Lower Limb Muscle Activation and Kinematics During Gait Training in Subacute Stroke. Disability and Rehabilitation Oct 17:1-8. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2017. PMID:29041823
  1. Garland SN, Scurrey SR, Ploughman M. Prevalence and Predictors of Poor Sleep in Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine June 2017 doi: 10.1007/s12529-017-9653-4 IF 1.89
  1. Ploughman M. Breaking down the barriers to physical activity among people with multiple sclerosis. A narrative review Physical Therapy Reviews. April 2017 doi: 10.1080/10833196.2017.1315212.
  1. Ploughman M and Kelly LP. Four birds with one stone? Reparative, Neuroplastic, Cardiorespiratory and Metabolic Benefits of Aerobic Exercise Post-stroke. Current Opinion in Neurology Sept 2016. IF 4.46
  1. Kirkland MC, Downer MB, Holloway BJ, Wallack EM, Lockyer EJ, Buckle NCM, Abbott CL, Ploughman M. Bipedal hopping reveals evidence of advanced neuromuscular aging among people with mild multiple sclerosis. Journal of Motor Behavior Dec 29:1-9. doi: 10.1080/00222895 Dec 2016 IF 1.57
  1. Ploughman M, Collins K, Wallack EM, Monks M, Mayo NE and the Health, Lifestyle and Aging with MS Canadian Consortium Women’s and men’s differing experiences of health, lifestyle and aging with multiple sclerosis. International Journal of MS Care. 2017 Jul-Aug;19(4):165-171. doi: 10.7224/1537-2073.2016-014. PMID:28835740
  1. Wallack EM, Wiseman HD, Ploughman M. Healthy aging from the perspective of 683 older people with multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis International doi: 10.1155/2016/1845720 July 2016.
  1. Downer MB, Kirkland MC, Wallack EM, Ploughman M. Walking impairs cognitive performance among people with multiple sclerosis but not controls. Human Movement Science 2016 Jun 29;49:124-131. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2016.06.010 IF 1.66
  1. Soposnik G, Cohen L, Mamdani M, Pooyania S, Ploughman M, Cheung D, Shaw J, Hall J, Nord P, Dukelow S, Nilanont Y, Olmos L, Levin M, Teasell R, Cohen A, Thorpe K, Laupacis A, Bayley M. Efficacy of virtual reality exercising using Wii gaming technology in stroke Rehabilitation (EVREST Multicenter): A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Lancet Neurology June 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30121-1 IF 23.47
  1. Hasan S.M.M., Rancourt S.N., Austin M.W., Ploughman M. Defining optimal aerobic exercise parameters to affect complex motor and cognitive outcomes after stroke: A systematic review and synthesis. Neural Plasticity 2016; doi:10.1155/2016/2961573. IF 3.58
  1. Kirkland MC, Wallack EM, Rancourt SN, Ploughman, M. Comparing three dual-task methods and the relationship to physical and cognitive impairment in people with multiple sclerosis and controls. Multiple Sclerosis International October 2015 doi:10.1155/2015/650645 New journal no IF yet
  1. Ploughman M, Harris C, Wallack EM, Drodge O, Beaulieu S, Mayo N and the Health Lifestyle and Aging with MS Canadian Consortium. Predictors of exercise participation among ambulatory and non-ambulatory older people with multiple sclerosis. PeerJ 2015 3:e1158; DOI 10.7717/peerj.1158 IF 2.11
  1. Plemel J.R., Juzwik C.A., Benson C.A., Monks M., Harris C., Ploughman M. Over–the-counter anti-oxidant therapies for use in multiple sclerosis: a systematic review. Multiple Sclerosis Journal 2015 DOI: 10.1177/1352458515601513 PMID 26286700 IF 4.67
  1. Ploughman M, Manning OJ, Beaulieu S, Harris C, Hogan S, Alderdice PW, Fisk JD, Sadovnick AD, O’Connor P, Morrow SA, Metz LM, Smyth P, Mayo N, Marrie RA, Stefanelli M, Godwin M. Predictors of Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency procedure use among older people with multiple sclerosis: A national case-control study. BMC Health Serv Res. 2015 Apr 16;15(1):161. doi: 10.1186/s12913-015-0835-y. PMID 25881078 IF 1.71
  1. Ploughman M, Austin MW, Glynn L, Corbett D. The effects of post-stroke aerobic exercise on neuroplasticity: A systematic review of animal and clinical studies. Translational Stroke Research.  2015 Feb;6(1):13-28. doi: 10.1007/s12975-014-0357-7. PMID:25023134 IF 2.44
  1. Ploughman M. Community-Based Stroke Rehabilitation: Recovery continued? Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 41(6) Nov 2014 679-80 Oct 2014. doi:10.1017/cjn.20 IF 1.04
  1. Ploughman M, Deshpande N, Latimer-Cheung A, Finlayson M. Drawing on related knowledge to advance MS falls prevention research. International Journal of MS Care 16(4)2014. 10.7224/1537-2073.2014-052. PMID 25694774 New journal no IF yet
  1. Murray C, Ploughman M, Harris C, Hogan S, Murdoch M, Austin MW, Stefanelli M. “Do or Die”: The pro- and anti-liberation procedure decision-making experience for people living with multiple sclerosis. Global Qualitative Nursing Research 2014. DOI: 10.1177/2333393614551413 New journal no IF yet
  1. Ploughman M, Harris C, Hogan S, Murray C, Murdoch M, Austin MW, Stefanelli M. Navigating the ‘liberation procedure’: A qualitative study of motivating and hesitating factors among people with multiple sclerosis. Patient Preference and Adherence 2014 Sep 10:8: 1205-13. doi: 10.2147/PPA.S65483. PMID 25228799 IF 1.68
  1. Austin MW, Ploughman M, Glynn L, Corbett D. Aerobic exercise effects on neuroprotection and brain repair following stroke: A systematic review and perspective. Neuroscience Research. 2014 Oct;87C:8-15. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2014.06.007. PMID 24997243 IF 2.97
  1. Ploughman M, Shears J, Harris C, Hogan SH, Drodge O, Squires S, McCarthy J. Effectiveness of a novel community exercise transition program for people with moderate to severe neurological disabilities. NeuroRehabilitation. 2014;35(1):105-12. doi: 10.3233/NRE-141090. PMID 24997243 IF 1.12
  1. Ploughman M, Beaulieu S, Harris C, Hogan S, Manning OJ, Alderdice PW, Fisk JD, Sadovnick AD, O’Connor P, Morrow SA, Metz LM, Smyth P, Mayo N, Marrie RA, Knox KB, Stefanelli M, Godwin M. The Canadian survey of health, lifestyle and ageing with multiple sclerosis: methodology and initial results. BMJ Open. 2014 Jul 10;4(7):e005718. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005718. PMID 25011993 IF 2.27
  1. Penney T, Ploughman M, Austin MW, Behm D, Byrne JM. Determining the role of gluteus medius and the validity of the single leg stance test in chronic non-specific low back pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Oct;95(10):1969-76.doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.06.009.  PMID 24992020 IF 2.57
  1. Marrie RA, Yu BN, Leung S, Elliott L, Caetano P, Blanchard JF, Svenson LW, Profetto-  McGrath J, Warren S, Wolfson C, Jette N, Patten SB, Evans C, Tremlett H, Fisk J, Bhan V, Ploughman M. Performance of administrative case definitions for comorbidity in multiple sclerosis in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Chronic Diseases and Injuries in Canada 2014 Jul:34(2-3):145-53. PMID 24991777 IF 1.63