Return to top
Faculty & Staff Profile
Proctor Hall 205
207-221-4595 (w)
207-523-1910 (f)

Jim Cavanaugh, PT, Ph.D., NCS
Associate Professor


Dr. Cavanaugh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of New England. He received a BA in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 1985 and completed his physical therapy training with a MS degree from Duke University in 1987. Since 1996, he has been a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy. In 2004, he earned a Ph.D in Human Movement Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his doctoral work focused on detecting subtle changes in postural control among collegiate athletes with cerebral concussion. His post-doctoral research, for which he received funding from the National Institute on Aging, focused on identifying the determinants of ambulatory activity in older adults. Although his physical therapy clinical expertise covers a range of areas within the neuromuscular practice domain, he has worked most extensively in the area of rehabilitation for individuals with inner ear dysfunction. Dr. Cavanaugh has a long history of teaching in entry level and post-professional degree programs, as well as in continuing education settings. His research program at UNE focuses on developing interventions for improving physical activity in individuals with balance and mobility problems.  His most recent work has focused on individauals with Parkinson disease.



Physical therapy; neuropathology and neuromuscular disorders; physical rehabilitation; geriatrics; mobility and balance problems; dizziness and inner ear dysfunction; physical activity; ambulatory activity monitoring; fall prevention.


Ph.D., Human Movement Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004

M.S., Physical Therapy, Duke University, 1987

B.A., Psychology, University of Notre Dame, 1985

Post-Grad Training

Post-Doctoral Training
Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Durham, Maine

Board Certifications/Licenses

Physical Therapy - State of Maine

Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy - ABPTS

Research and Scholarship

Research Interests

1.  Physical functioning in individuals with Parkinson disease.

2.  Physical activity; ambulatory activity monitoring

3. Nonlinear dynamics methods for analyzing variability and complexity of human movement and postural control

4. Sport-related cerebral concussion

Current Research or Scholarship

Physical activity and exercise behavior in individuals with Parkinson disease.

Selected Publications

Cavanaugh JT, Dunfey JC, Wyand MK. Companion confidence in the balance of community-dwelling older adults: implications for physical activity promotion. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy 2014 Jan 8 [Epub ahead of print].

Litterini AJ, Fieler VF, Cavanaugh JT, Lee J. Differential Effects of Cardiovascular and Resistance Exercise on Functional Mobility in Individuals with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2013;94:2329-35.

Nemanich S, Duncan R, Dibble L, Cavanaugh J, Ford M, Foreman KB, Earhart GM. Predictors of gait speeds and the relationship of gait speeds to falls in men and women with Parkinson disease. Parkinson’s disease 2013. Article ID141720.

Davis J, Crawford K, Wierman H, Osgood W, Cavanaugh J, Mette S. Mobilization of ventilated elders (MOVE). Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy 2013;36:1-7.

Ellis, TE, Boudreau JK, DeAngelis TR, Brown LE, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ford M, Foreman K, Dibble LE. Barriers to exercise in persons with Parkinson disease. Physical Therapy Journal 2013;93:626-636.

Duncan RP, Leddy AL, Cavanaugh JT, Dibble LE, Ellis TD, Ford MP, Foreman KB. Comparative utility of the BESTest, Mini-BESTest, and Brief-BESTest for predicting falls in individuals with Parkinson disease: a cohort study. Phys Ther 2013;93:542-550.

Cavanaugh JT, Eillis T, Earhardt GM, Ford M, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Capturing ambulatory activity decline in Parkinson disease. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy 2012; 36: 51–57.

Duncan R, Leddy A, Cavanaugh J, Dibble L, Ellis T, Ford M, Foreman KB, Earhardt GM. Accuracy of Fall Prediction in Parkinson Disease: 6-Month and 12-Month Prospective Analyses. Parkinson’s disease 2012; Article ID 237673.

Sheldon M, Cavanaugh JT, Croninger W, Osgood W, Robnett R, Seigle J, Simonsen L. Preparing Rehabilitation Healthcare Providers in the 21st century: Implementation of Interprofessional Education through an Academic-Clinical Site Partnership. WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, Rehabilitation 2012; 41:269-275.

Cavanaugh JT and Konrad SC. Fostering the development of effective person-centered healthcare communication skills: an interprofessional shared learning model. WORK: Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation 2012;41:293-301.

Ellis T, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Factors associated with exercise behavior in people with parkinson disease. Phys Ther 2011;91(12):1838-1848.

Earhart GM, Cavanaugh JT, Ellis T, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. The 9-hole peg test of upper extremity function: normative values, test-retest reliability, and factors contributing to performance in people with parkinson disease. J Neurol Phys Ther 2011;35(4):157-163.

Ellis T, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Which measures of physical function and motor impairment best predict health related quality of life in people with parkinson disease? Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 2011;17(9):693-7.

Cavanaugh JT, Gappmaier V, Dibble LE, Gappmaier E. Ambulatory activity in individuals with multiple sclerosis.  J Neurol Phys Ther 2011;35(1):26-33.

Dibble LE, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart G, Ellis T, Ford M, Foreman KB. Charting the progression of disability in parkinson disease: study protocol for a prospective longitudinal cohort study. BMC Neurol 2010;10:110.

Cavanaugh JT and Stergiou N. "Response to Chastin et al.” J Gerontol Med Sci 2010; 65A(11):1256–1258. Epub 2010 August 9.

Cavanaugh JT, Kochi N, Stergiou N. Nonlinear analysis of ambulatory activity patterns in community-dwelling older adults.  J Gerontol Med Sci 2010;65A(2):197-203. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

Cavanaugh JT, Mercer VS, Stergiou N. Approximate entropy detects the effect of a secondary cognitive task on postural control in healthy young adults: a methodological report. J Neuroeng Rehabil 2007;4:42.

Cavanaugh JT, Coleman KL, Gaines JM, Laing L, Morey MC. Using step activity monitoring to characterize ambulatory activity in community-dwelling older adults. JAGS  2007;55(1):120-124.

Cavanaugh JT, Guskiewicz K, Giuliani C, Marshall S, Mercer VS, Stergiou N. Recovery of postural control after cerebral concussion: New insights using Approximate Entropy. J Athl Train 2006; 41(3):305-313.

Stergiou N, Harbourne RT, Cavanaugh JT. Optimal movement variability: a new theoretical perspective for Neurologic Physical Therapy. J Neurol Phys Ther 2006;30(3):120-129.

Cavanaugh JT, Guskiewicz K, Giuliani C, Marshall S, Mercer VS, Stergiou N. Detecting altered postural control after cerebral concussion in athletes without postural instability. Br J Sports Med 2005;39(11):805-811.

Cavanaugh JT, Guskiewicz K, Stergiou N. A nonlinear dynamic approach for evaluating postural control: new directions of the management of sport-related cerebral concussion. Sports Med 2005; 35(11):935-950.

Cavanaugh JT, Goldvasser D, McGibbon CA, Krebs DE.  Comparison of head- and body velocity trajectories during locomotion among healthy and vestibulopathic subjects. J Rehabil Res Dev 2005;42(2): 191-198.

Cavanaugh JT. Visual self-motion perception in older adults: implications for postural control during locomotion.  Neurology Report 2002;26(1): 15-20.

Cavanaugh JT.  Examining the patient with dizziness of unknown etiology.  Neurology Report 1999;23(3):100-113.

Cavanaugh JT, Shinberg M, Ray L, Shipp KM, Kuchibhatla M, Schenkman M. Kinematic characterization of standing reach: comparison of younger vs. older subjects. Clin Biomech 1999; 14:271-279.

Cavanaugh JT, Schenkman M. Physical therapy evaluation and treatment in stroke rehabilitation: a case report. Physical Therapy Case Reports 1998; 1(4):200-209.

Recently Funded Grants

"Unveiling the Natural History of Quality of Life and Mobility Decline in Persons with Parkinson’s Disease” Role: Co-investigator. Source: Davis Phinney Foundation, Parkinson's disease Foundation.“

Student Opportunities: Yes