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Alicia Emerson

Dissertation title

Invisible disease affecting invisible populations: exploring how the geopolitical, historical, and societal spectrum impacts marginalized populations’ experiences with chronic musculoskeletal pain management

Areas of study

Chronic pain, marginalized populations, orthopaedic manual physical therapy

Supervisory team 

  • Professor David Baxter, CHARR, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago (Primary Supervisor)
  • Dr Ramakrishnan Mani, Lecturer, Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • Tess Hegedus, PhD Randolph-Macon Academy

Educational Background

  • Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy, Governors State University, University Park, IL USA
  • Master of Science: Rehabilitation Sciences. University of Illinois, Chicago, IL. USA
  • Fellow, Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
  • Master of Science: Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • Bachelor of Arts: Biology, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL, USA

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Emerson, AJ, Hegedus T, Mani R, Baxger GD. (2020)  Chronic musculoskeletal pain. Discordant management conversations: the influencing factor of polarized politics. Physical Therapy Reviews. 2020:25:1; 7-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/10833196.2019.1701762
  • Hensely CJ, Emerson AJ. Non-small cell lung carcinoma: Clinical reasoning in a patient referred to physical therapy for costochondritis. PTJ. Physical therapy, 01 June 2018, Vol.98(6), pp.503-509
  • Wassigner, CA, Donaldson, M, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Wright AA. Subacute Effects of Cervicothoracic Spinal Thrust in Addition to Shoulder Manual Therapy Plus Exercise Intervention in Individuals with Subacromial Impingement Syndrome: A Prospective, Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial Pilot Study. JMMT. 2016; (20161107): 1-11
  • Lantz JM, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Mischke JJ, Courtney CA. Tibiofemoral joint mobilization in the successful management of patellofemoral pain syndrome: A case report. Internat’l J Sports Phys Ther. 2016;11:1-12.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Sault JD, Vendrely AM. Learning curves observed with establishing targeted rate of force application in pressure pain algometry. Physiotherapy Canada. 2016. doi:10.3138/ptc.2015-16.
  • Mischke JJ, Sault JD, Jayaseelan D, Emerson Kavchak AJ. The systematic and functional effects of manual physical therapy on plantar heel pain: A systematic review. JMMT. 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10669817.2015.1106818
  • Mischke JJ, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Courtney CA. Effect of sternoclavicular mobilization on pain and function in a patient with irreparable supraspinatus tear. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice. 2016. DOI: 10.3109/09593985.2015.1114691.
  • Sault JD, Morris, Jayaseelan DF, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy in the management of a patient with symptomatic morton’s neuroma: a case study. Manual Therapy. 2016. Feb;21:307-10. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2015.03.010
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Lulofs-Macpherson K, Mischke JJ, Vendrely AM. The psychometric properties of self-report outcome measures in temporormandibular dysfunction: a systematic review. Physical Therapy Reviews 2014:19(3);174-185.
  • Wright AA, Naze GS, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Paul D, Kenison B, Hegedus EJ. Radiological variables associated with progression of femoroacetabular impingement: a systematic review. J Sci Med Sport. 2014:doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.03.004
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Cook C, Hegedus E, Wright AA. Identification of cut-points in commonly used hip osteoarthritis-related outcome measures that define the patient acceptable symptom state (PASS). Rheumtol Int. 2013:DOI 10.1007/s00296-013-2813-1.
  • Hensley C, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Novel use of a manual therapy technique and management of a patient with peroneal tendinopathy case study. Manual Therapy. 2012:17;84-88.
  • Wight AA, Hannon J, Hegedus EJ, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Clinimetrics Corner: a closer look at the minimal clinically important difference (MCID). JMMT. 2012. doi 10.1179/2042618612Y.0000000001
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Fernadez-de-las-Penas C, Rubin LH, Arendt-Nielsen L, Chmell SJ, Durr RK Courtney CA. Association between somatosensory processing, pain and knee instability in subjects with severe knee osteoarthritis. Clin J Pain. 2011. Dec. 2.
  • Courtney CA, O’Hearn M, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Lowry CD. Interpreting joint pain: quantitative sensory testing in musculoskeletal management. JOSPT. 2010:40;818-825.
  • Courtney CA, Durr RK, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Witte EO, Santos MS. Heightened flexor withdrawal in subjects with chronic ACL rupture are enhanced by passive tibial translation.
    Clin Neurophysiol. 2011:122:5;1005-1010.
  • Courtney CA, Durr RK, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Witte EO, Santos MS .Sensitization of nociceptive responses is maintained in individuals following anterior cruciate ligament rupture. JMMT. 2010;18:4;213-216.
  • O’Hearn, M, Lowry C, Emerson Kavchak, AJ Courtney CA. Regarding ‘Interrater reliability of a new classification scheme for patients with neural low back-related leg pain’ Scafer A et al. in JMMT. 2009;17:109-166.” JMMT. 2009:17;e115-116.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Durr RK, Courtney CA. “Altered somatosensation and complaints of knee instability in subjects with knee osteoarthritis are modulated joint mobilization.” JMMT. 2009;17:180-181.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, O’Hearn M. Undiagnosed Chiari I malformation in a patient status post posterior spinal fusion: A case report. JMMT. 2008;16;172

Peer Reviewed Scientific and Professional Presentations

Breakout Sessions:

  • Wright AA, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Subacute effects of spinal manual therapy in addition to shoulder manual therapy and exercise in patients with subacromial pathology.AAOMPT. October 2016., St. Louis, MO.
  • Cook C, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Wright AA. The yin and yang of patient outcome measures: Cons of using patient outcome measures for the assessment of patient improvement. AAOMPT. October 2011. Anaheim, CA
  • Cook C, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Wright AA. The yin and yang of patient outcome measures: Pros of using patient outcome measures for the assessment of patient improvement. AAOMPT. October 2011.
  • Courtney CA, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Lowery C, O’Hearn ML. Quantitative sensory testing in orthopedic manual physical therapy: basic assessment skills for identification of impaired pain processing. AAOMPT. October 2009. Washington, DC

Platform Presentations:

  • Emerson Kavchak AJ. Seeking to Better Serve: A Multi-Level Community Partnership When Developing a Pro Bono Clinic. Pro Bono Conference. March 2017. Philadelphia, PA
  • Bednarczyk M, Ruggirello L, Frank C, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy to the tibiofemoral joint yields greater strength improvements in the quadriceps than lumbar manipulation or NMES following ACL reconstruction: A case report. AAOMPT. October 2016. St. Louis, MO.
  • Post AA, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Unilateral Lumbar Mobilization in a Patient with Bilateral Pseudoradicular Symptoms and Associated Quantitative Sensory Assessment Improvement: A Case Report. AAOMPT. October 2016. St. Louis, MO.
  • Cummins K, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Post-concussive management for return to work utilizing manual therapy, vestibular rehabilitation and cervicocephalic kinesthesia retraining in a patient following whiplash injury. AAOMPT. October 2014. San Antonio, TX.
  • Ruggirello L, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy and vestibular rehabilitation for a complex case of whiplash associated dizziness. October. 2014. AAOMPT. San Antonio, TX.
  • Wright AA, Naze GS, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Paul D, Kenison B, Hegedus EJ Radiological variables associated with progression of femoroacetabular impingement: a systematic review. APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting. February 2014. Las Vegas, NV.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Wright AA. Evaluation of patient acceptable symptom state estimates amongst self-reported and physical performance measures in patients with hip osteoarthritis. IFOMPT, the World Congress of Manual/Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. September/October 2012. Quebec City, Canada.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Courtney CA. Altered somatosensation and complaints of knee instability in subjects with knee osteoarthritis are modulated joint mobilization. AAOMPT. October 2009. Washington, DC
  • Courtney CA, Durr RK, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Witte EO, Santos MS. Heightened flexor withdrawal in subjects with chronic ACL deficiency are enhanced with anterior tibial translation at the knee. Australian Physiotherapy Association Biennial Conference.
    2009
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Duerringer S, Elpers K, Miller EW. The reliability of functional assessment measures in community dwelling elders with dementia. APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2002. Cincinnati, OH

Non-peer reviewed / community presentations:

  • Pain at Otago series. Persistent musculoskeletal pain in refugees and marginalized populations. February 2020.
  • Emerson AJ, Naze GS, Mabry LM, Chaconas E, Silvernail J, Lonneman E, Rhon D, Deyle GD. AAOMPT opposes the term “Degenerative Disc Disease.” AAOMPT White Paper. October 2019.
  • Emerson AJ, Naze GS. Fostering understanding and optimizing management of chronic musculoskeletal pain in marginalized patient populations. North Carolina Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference. October 2019, Wilmington, NC
  • Devine N, Tower E, Emerson AJ. Multi-language surveys: Understanding the needs of our community. March 2018 Pro Bono Conference. Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Gosselin D, Hamel R, Hegedus E. Seeking to better serve: A multi-level community partnership when developing a pro bono clinic. March 2017 Pro Bono Conference. Philadelphia, PA, USA

Posters

  • Burr MR, Steiner M, Zukowski L, Shaffer, SM, Compton T, Tennant J, Naze GS, Emerson AJ. Hunger is not a game: Food scarcity predicts pain severity in a clinical population. APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2020. Denver, CO.
    *First Place Poster Winner – Global Health Special Interest Group; Health Policy & Administration Section.
  • Burr MR, Naze GS, Shaffer SM, Emerson AJ. The Role of Sleep Dysfunction in Orofacial Pain / Temporomandibular Onset and Progression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2020. Denver, CO.
  • Ringleburg J, Emerson AJ, Hegedus E, Howard R, Taylor J. Efficacy of Trigger Point Physical Therapy on Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Myofascial Pain Syndrome. APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2020. Denver, CO.
  • Franck, C, Jicinsky J, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Physical therapy rehabilitation after long-term cervical immobilization following atlas (Jefferson) fracture: A case report.APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2017. San Antonio, TX.
  • Moky H, Franck C, Emerson Kavchak AJ. The successful management of foot drop in a post-partum with use of pelvic floor and orthopedic physical therapy: A case report APTA, Combined Sections Meeting. February 2017. San Antonio, TX*Winner Women’s Health Research Award Poster
  • Post AA, Duncombe A, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Application of manual therapy interventions in a case of focal hyperhidrosis: A case report. AAOMPT. October 2016. St. Louis, MO.
  • Greenberg B, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Passive physiological mobilization for successful management of chronic subacromial impingement syndrome: A case report. AAOMPT. October 2016. St. Louis, MO.
  • Greenberg B, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Soft tissue as a peripheral driver of central sensitization in a patient with painful unilateral condylar hyperplasia: A case report. AAOMPT. October 2016. St. Louis, MO.
  • Hensley C, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Diagnosis of non-small cell carcinoma in a patient with upper quarter pain. AAOMPT. October 2015. Louisville, KY.
  • Bux C, Sault JD, Duncombe A, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Orthopaedic manual physical therapy post temporomandibular joint gap arthroplasty and bilateral coronoidectomy: a case study. AAOMPT. October 2015. Louisville, KY.
  • Lantz JD, Mischke JJ, Emerson Kavchak AJ. The effects of joint mobilization manual therapy in the management of chronic non-specific anterior knee pain: a case report. AAOMPT. October 2015. Louisville, KY.
  • Franck CC, Tvrdy, D, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Differential diagnosis and treatment of a 15-year-old competitive swimmer with pelvic pain. APTA Combined Sections Meeting, February 2016. Anaheim CA.
  • Mischke JJ, Emerson Kavchak AJ, Courtney CA. Effect of sternoclavicular mobilization on pain and function in a patient with irreparable supraspinatus tear. APTA Combined Sections Meeting. February 2015, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Ruggirello L, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy and vestibular rehabilitation for a complex case of whiplash associated dizziness. APTA Combined Sections Meeting. February 2015. Indianapolis, IN.
  • Sault JS, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy in the management of a patient with recalcitrant Morton’s neuroma: a case report. APTA Combined Sections Meeting. February 2015. Indianapolis, IN *Orthopaedic Poster Award Nominee
  • Sault JS, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Manual therapy in the management of a patient with recalcitrant Morton’s neuroma: a case report. AAOMPT. October 2014. San Antonio, TX. *Best Overall Poster
  • Sault JD, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Management of a patient with chronic jaw pain using graded manual therapy and mobilization with movement. AAOMPT. October 2014. San Antonio, TX.
  • Hensley C, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Novel use of a manual therapy technique and management of a patient with peroneal tendinopathy case study. AAOMPT. October 2011. Anaheim, CA.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, Chmell, SJ, Durr RK, Courtney CA. Altered somatosensation and complaints of knee instability in subjects with severe knee osteoarthritis. AAOMPT, October 2010. San Antonio, TX *First place winner
  • Tow N, Emerson Kavchak AJ. Using pain pressure algometry to document progress in a client with complex regional pain syndrome. AAOMPT. October 2010. San Antonio, TX.
  • Emerson Kavchak AJ, O’Hearn M. Undiagnosed Chiari I malformation in a patient status post posterior spinal fusion: a case report. AAOMPT. October 2008. Seattle, WA.

Awards

  • Co-Investigator: American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists Dennis Driver Award Grant.
  • Primary Investigator: High Point University QEP Growth Mindset

Academic Service

Co-chair Research Committee, American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists

Why did you choose Otago?

At this point in my career, after practicing, teaching and researching for 15 years, I had very specific clinical questions. I am thrilled that the expertise of the faculty in the School of Physiotherapy corresponded with my field of study. Just as importantly for me is that these leaders in their field are supportive and provide constructive guidance. I am confident I will learn as much about the skill of researching as I will about my topic.

Best things so far

Innovative collaboration so that I can be an international student while working full-time on faculty at High Point University. The faculty and staff are welcoming, patient, and provide assistance and support as if I were in Otago full-time. It’s wonderful to be included in the PhD Physio community.