Professor Emerita

“To love what you do and feel that it matters — How can anything be more fun?”  —Katherine Graham


B.S., 1982; Ph.D., 1994, University of Vermont.

UVM Career: 

Assistant Research Physical Therapist, 1986-1991; Clinical Assistant Professor, 1991-1994; Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor, 1994-1986; Assistant Professor, 1996-2000; Associate Professor, 2000-2009, Professor 2009 2015. Secondary appointment in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, College of Medicine, Associate Professor, 2003-2009 and Professor, 2009-2015.

Key Scholarly Interests:

My primary research interests are motor control of human posture and movement, particularly as they relate to musculoskeletal impairments such as low back pain. My funding from the National Institutes of Health has been directed at examining the neuromotor control strategies that are used by people with low back pain and the effects of selected physical therapy interventions on pain, neuromuscular impairments and function in this population. With my background as a physical therapist and a neuroscientist, I have combined my expertise in neuromuscular measures (including EMG, torque, force and kinematic parameters) with my extensive experience in conducting randomized clinical trials with people with low back pain in order to carry out translational research and improve the care and outcomes for this population.

Publication Highlights:

  • Mehta R, Cannella M, Henry SM, Smith S, Giszter S, Silfies SP. Trunk postural muscle timing is not compromised in low back pain patients clinically diagnosed with movement coordination impairments. Motor Control. 2015 Dec 1. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:26623551
  • Shahvarpour A, Henry SM, Preuss R, Mecheri H, Larivière C. The effect of an 8-week stabilization exercise program on the lumbopelvic rhythm and flexion-relaxation phenomenon. J Clin Biomech (accepted June 2017).
  • Jacobs JV, Roy CL, Hitt JR, Popov RE, Henry SM. Neural mechanisms and functional correlates of altered postural responses to perturbed standing balance with chronic low back pain. Neuroscience. 339 (2016), 511-524.
  • Milbank E, Peterson P, Henry SM. The intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of the Movement Competency Screen in a military cohort. The Sport Journal. Aug 25, 20016, 1-12. (
  • Boucher J-A, Preuss R, Henry SM, Dumas J-P, Larivière C. (2016) The effects of an 8-week stabilization exercise program on lumbar movement sense in patients with low back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 17:23. DOI 10.1186/s12891-016-0875-4.
  • Bishop JH, Fox JR, Maple R, Loretan C, Badger GJ, Henry SM, Viozzard MA, Langevin H. Ultrasound evaluation of the combined effects of thoracolumbar fascia injury and movement restriction in a porcine model. PLoS ONE, 2016; 11(1), 1-13. 10.1371/journal.pone.0147393.
  • Bouchard JA, Preuss R, Henry SM, Dumas JP, Larivière C. The effects of an 8-week stabilization exercise program on lumbar movement sense in patients with low back pain and healthy controls. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016 Jan 14; 17(1):23. DOI: 10.1186/X12891-016-0875-4.
  • Jacobs JV, Lomond KV, Hitt JR, DeSarno  MJ, Bunn JY, Henry SM. Effects of low back pain and of Stabilization or Movement-System-Impairment treatments on induced postural responses: A planned secondary analysis of a randomized, controlled trial. Manual Therapy (accepted 08/29/2015). [Epub: DOI:]
  • Henry SM, Van Dillen LR, Tromley AL, Dee JM, Bunn JY. Reliability of novice raters in using the movement system impairment approach to classify people with low back pain, Manual Therapy 2013;18(1): 35-40.
  • Zielinski KA, Henry SM, Ouellette-Morton RH, DeSarno  MJ. Lumbar multifidus muscle thickness does not predict patients with low back pain who improve with trunk stabilization exercises. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. Jun;94(6):1132-8.PMID:23228626 (Epub 2012 Dec 7.)
  • Jones SL, Henry SM,  Raasch CC, Hitt JR. Individuals with non-specific low back pain in an active episode demonstrate temporally altered torque responses and direction-specific enhanced muscle activity following unexpected balance perturbations. Exp Brain Research. 2012: 221 (4); 413-426 PMID:22875027.
  • Henry SM, Fritz JM, Trombley AL, Bunn JY. Reliability of the Treatment Based Classification System for Subgrouping People with Low Back Pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2012;42(9):797-805.
  • Langevin HM, Fox JR, Koptiuch C, Badger GJ, Greenan-Naumann A, Bouffard NA, Konofagou EE, Wei-Ning L, Triano JJ, Henry SM.  Reduced thoracolumbar fascia shear strain in human chronic low back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011 Sep 19;12:203.
  • Stokes IAF, Gardner-Morse M, Henry SM. Abdominal muscle activation increases lumbar spinal stability: analysis of contributions of different muscle groups. Clin Biomech 26 (2011) 797–803 (October). Epub 2011 May 14. PubMed PMID: 21571410; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3157598
  • Henry SM, Teyhen DS. Ultrasound imaging as a feedback tool in the rehabilitation of trunk muscle dysfunction. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 37(10):627-634, 2007. PMID: 17970410
  •  Henry SM, Hitt JR, Jones SL, Bunn JY. Decreased limits of stability in persons with recurrent low back pain. Clinical Biomechanics 2006 Nov;21(9):881-92. PMID: 16806618
  • Henry SM, Westervelt KC. The use of real time ultrasound feedback in teaching abdominal hollowing exercises. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.  35(6):338-345, 2005. PMID: 16001905
  • Henry SM, Fung J. Horak FB. Effect of stance width on multidirectional postural responses. J Neurophysiol 85(2):559-70, 2001.PMID:11160493
  • Henry SM, Fung J, Horak FB. EMG responses to maintain stance during multidirectional surface translations.  J Neurophysiol 80: 1939-1950, 1998.PMID: 9772251
  • Horak F, Henry SM, Shumway-Cook A. Postural perturbations: new insights for treatment of balance disorders. Physical Therapy 77(5):517-533, 1997. PMID:9149762

Teaching/Research/Memberships Highlights: 

Teaching: I have served the role of the core faculty for the musculoskeletal portion of the Physical Therapy curriculum since 2007. Since the conversion of the program to a DPT program in 2006, I have taught the following courses:  PT 221 Tutorial I (foundational scientific bases for examination, evaluation and management of noncomplex, peripheral musculoskeletal problems); PT 212 Skills Lab II [knowledge and skills needed for examination, evaluation and management of noncomplex, musculoskeletal problems (Spine and Lower Quarter)]; PT 222 Tutorial II (scientific bases for examination, evaluation and management of Spine and Lower Quarter musculoskeletal problems); PT 242 Patient Management Skills – 2 (spine and extremities); RMS 213A Movement Science I (EXMS and AT students); PT 318 Movement Science I (DPT students); PT 340 Foundational Skills (DPT students); PT 344 Physical Therapy Evaluation and Management of Musculoskeletal Conditions (DPT students).

Mentoring trainees:  I mentored 37 trainees including UVM undergraduates and DPT graduates, and postdoctoral fellows as well as students from other universities, nationally and internationally (where I have (or have had) adjunct appointments. The UVM students were successful in funding their projects garnering over $31,000 in UVM student research awards and they presented their work at scientific national and international conferences consistently.

Research:  52 peer reviewed publications/101 peer reviewed presentations. Funding: UVM Internal Seed Grants as Principal Investigator (PI): $100, 351; Foundation Grants ($61,400) including the first American Physical Therapy Association Post-doctoral Award which funded my post-doctoral work; Federal NIH funding as Principal Investigator ($3,874,248 directs/indirects) which reflects my leadership within College of Nursing and Health Science in the research arena; Canadian funding($507, 578) in collaboration with international colleagues.

Memberships:  UVM:  Member, Neuroscience, Behavior and Health Transdisciplinary Research Initiative (TRI), Steering Committee 2010-present. Chair, Planning Committee 2015-2016 Scientific Writing Series. Chair, Planning Committee 2012 Macmillan Symposium (“Brainy Side of Exercise”), (Neuroscience, Behavior and Health TRI), 2013. Member, President’s Advisory Council for selection of Interim Provost, 2012. Member, Transdisciplinary Research Initiative Working Group (Neuroscience, Behavior and Health) 2009-2010. Faculty member, Search Committee for Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Science, 2009. Member, University Senate Committee on Research, Scholarship and Graduate Education, 2006-present. Member, Neuroscience Graduate Program, 2006-present. Faculty member, UVM’s Transformational and Restructuring Committee, 2009. Member, Graduate College, 1998-present.

College Committees: Member, Search Committee for COM/Director of Health Services Research, 2013. Chair, Search Committee for Anatomy and Neurobiology Lecturer position, 2013. College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Faculty Standards Committee member, 2001. Senate Nominating Committee UVM, 1997-2001.

Departmental Committees:  Chair, Rehabilitation and Movement Science faculty search 2013-2014 (3 positions); 2012-2013 (2 positions); 2011-2012 (1 position); 2009-2010 (2 positions); 2008-2009 (2 positions); 2007-2008 (3 positions). Chair, Rehabilitation and Movement Science Faculty Affairs Committee, 2006-2008. Faculty member, Physical Therapy Chair Search Committee, 2005-2006. Research Committee member, Physical Therapy Department, UVM, 1996-2006. Scientific Review Committee, Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, UVM, 1997-2010.

National:  American Physical Therapy Association, Sections on Research, Orthopedics and Neurology, 1981-present. Eugene Michel’s Research Forum Planning Committee, 2007-2010. Abstract Review Committee for Neurology Section, APTA Combined Sections Meeting, 1997-2002. Society for Neuroscience, 1989-present. National Athletic Trainers Association, Certified member, 1983-1996.

International:  World Congress for Physical Therapy; International Association for the Study of Pain, 2010-present; International Society for Posture and Gait, 1997-present; Co-chair of the Organizing Committee and Local Host for International Society for Posture and Gait, Burlington, VT, 2007; Treasurer, International Society for Posture and Gait, 2007-2012.

Other Professional Experience: 

Adjunct faculty appointments: Central Michigan University, Mt Pleasant, MI, 2015-2017; McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 2011-present (and 1997-2006); University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas, 2012-present; AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand, 2014-present; University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia, 1998-2000. American Physical Therapy Traveling Fellows Program:  Hosted two junior faculty from other institutions who came to work with me for short intensive periods so I could mentor their research careers.

Awards and Honors:  

Awards:  National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Award “Comparative Study of Two Exercise Protocols for Low Back Pain” (My role: PI; $53,167) (1997-1998). North American Spine Society Traveling Research Fellowship Award (PI: $9,400) “Trunk muscle coordination in subjects with low back pain” (My role: PI; 1996). APTA Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Award (My role: PI; $40,000) (First recipient of the award)“Neural and Biomechanical Constraints in Postural Control in Healthy and Spinal Cord Injured Subjects,” 1995-1996. Foundation for Physical Therapy Doctoral Research Award (My role: PI; $12,000) “The Role of Somatosensory Information in Constrained Locomotion in Rats” 1992-1994.

National Institutes of Health Awards:  National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NIH/NICHHD) (RO1) “Effects and mechanisms of Specific Exercises on Low Back Pain” (My Role: PI; 2009-2012; $1,484,709 directs/indirects). National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NIH/NICHHD) (RO1) “Effects and mechanisms of Specific Exercises on Low Back Pain” (My role: PI) 2003-2008 [1 year no cost extension until 2/09]; $1,874,438 directs/indirects). National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NIH/NICHHD) (KO1) “Low Back Pain: A Motor Control Impairment?” (My role: PI; 1998-2003; $433,334). NIH/National Institutes of Aging National Research Service Award (F32) ($28,600) “Multidirectional Postural Control” 1996-1997.

Honors:  State: Vermont Chapter of the APTA Service Award, given annually in recognition of a physical therapist who has contributed greatly to physical therapy in the State of Vermont, 2004. National:
Eugene Michels New Investigator Award, awarded by the American Physical Therapy Association in recognition of my independent research and contributions to the field, 2000.

Community Service: 

Lund Family Center, member Program Committee, 2012-present; Co-chair, Children with Special Health Needs, Hearing and Communications Program, Advisory Council, Vermont State Department of Health, 2005-present; Telementor, Women in Technology Project at Vermont Technical College, 1998-1999.

Sharon M. Henry


  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Human Posture Control; Neurological Sciences Institute
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience; University of Vermont
  • B.S., Physical Therapy; University of Vermont


  • 802-847-6733
Office Location:

Fanny Allen Campus, 790 College Parkway Colchester, VT 05446

Courses Taught

  • PT 241 (now PT 340) - Patient Management Foundational Skills (D.P.T. students)
  • PT 242 (now PT 344) - Patient Management I (D.P.T. students)
  • PT 213 (now PT 318) - Movement Science I (D.P.T. students)
  • PT 221 Tutorial I (M.P.T. students)
  • PT 212 Skills Lab II (M.P.T. students)
  • PT 222 Tutorial II (M.P.T. students)
  • RMS 213A Movement Science I (EXMS and AT students)