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Jim Cavanaugh

Dr. Cavanaugh joined the PT faculty in 2007 in large part for its student-focused, community-oriented culture.   He is an active member of the university faculty, with special interest in interprofessional education. 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. From 1996-2016, he was 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 individuals with Parkinson disease.




Duke University



University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



University of Notre Dame


Board Certifications and Licenses

Physical Therapy - State of Maine #PT3371

Neurologic Clinical Specialist Emeritus - ABPTS (NCS 2004-2016)

Post-Doctoral Training

Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center

Veterans Affairs Medical Center


North Carolina


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.


Current Research



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. Interprofessional Education

5. Sport-related cerebral concussion

Selected Publications

To view all publications in PubMed, click here.

Ellis TD, Cavanaugh JT, DeAngelis TR, Hendron K, Thomas CA, Saint-Hilaire M, Latham N. Comparative effectiveness of mHealth supported exercise compared to exercise alone for people with Parkinson Disease: randomized controlled pilot study. Phys Ther 2019;99(2):203-216.

Cavanaugh JT, Kelty-Stephen DG, Stergiou N. Multifractality, interactivity, and the adaptive capacity of the human movement system: a perspective for advancing the conceptual basis of neurologic physical therapy. J Neurol Phys Ther. 2017;41(4): 245–251.

Lester ME, Cavanaugh JT, Foreman KB, Shaffer SW, Marcus R, Dibble LE. Adaptation of postural recovery responses to a vestibular sensory illusion in individuals with Parkinson disease and health controls. Clin Biomech 2017;48:73-79.

Duncan RP, Combs-Miller S, Leddy AL, Cavanaugh JT, Dibble LE, Ellis TD, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Earhart GM. Are the average gait speeds during the 10 meter and 6 minute walk tests redundant in Parkinson disease? Gait Posture. 2017;52:178-182.

Konrad SC, Cavanaugh JT, Rodriguez K, Hall K, Pardue K. A five-session interprofessional team immersion program for health professions students. J Interprof Educ Prac. 2017;6:49-54.

Lane H, Rose LE, Woodbury M, Arghavani D, Lawrence M, Cavanaugh JT. Exploring the effects of using an oral appliance to reduce movement dysfunction in an individual with Parkinson disease: a single subject design study. J Neurol Phys Ther 2016. J Neurol Phys Ther. 2017;41(1):52-58.

Paul SS, Ellis TD, Dibble LE, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman B, Cavanaugh, JT. Obtaining reliable estimates of ambulatory physical activity in people with Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. 2016; 6(2):301-5.

Ellis TE, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Thackeray A, Thiese MS, Dibble LE. Identifying clinical measures that most accurately reflect the progression of disability in Parkinson disease. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 2016;25:65-71. 

Paul SS, Thackeray A, Duncan RP, Cavanaugh JT, Ellis TD, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Two-year trajectory of fall risk in people with Parkinson’s disease: a latent class analysis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016;97:372-379.

Duncan RP, LEddy AL, Cavanaugh JT, Dibble LE, Ellis TD, Ford MP, Foreman KP, Earhart GM. Balance differences in people with Parkinson disease with and without freezing of gait. Gait Posture 2015;42:3-6-309.

Duncan RP, Cavanaugh JT, Earhart GM, Ellis TE, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Leddy AL, Paul SS, Canning CG, Thackeray A, Dibble LE. External validation of a simple clinical tool used to predict falls in people with Parkinson disease. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 2015;21:960-963.

Cavanaugh JT, Ellis TD, Earhart GM, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Dibble LE. Toward understanding ambulatory activity decline in Parkinson disease. Physical Therapy 2015;95(8):1142-1150.

Duncan, RP, Leddy AL, Cavanaugh JT, Dibble LE, Ellis TD, Ford MP, Foreman KB, Earhart GM. Detecting and predicting balance decline in Parkinson disease. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 2015; 5(1):131-9.

Cavanaugh JT and Crawford K. Life-space Assessment and Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly: validity of proxy informant responses. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2014;95:1527-32.

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;37:121-126.

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. ParkinsonÕs 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. ParkinsonÕs 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.Ó 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.


Funded Grants






Jim Cavanaugh

Jim Cavanaugh



Neurologic Clinical Specialist Emeritus


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