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Margaret A. Finley, PT, PhD

Associate Professor Finley's research has strongly relied on biomechanical analyses of human dynamics in functional activities, translating scientific innovation into clinical practice. Her interest is primarily secondary conditions in persons with chronic impairments, activity and participation limitations. Her ongoing work will provide specific information on how pain, biological, psychological and social determinants impact community participation in individuals, specifically from the transition from the acute phase following newly acquired SCI throughout community re-integration. Employing quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, she utilizes perspectives and identifies needs regarding physical activity and community engage of individuals with SCI. Currently her lab is developing accessible, inclusive physical activity programs to address psychological factors, social factors and activity engagement to mitigate the long-term adverse effects of inactivity in people with disabilities. She has been funded by the Department of Defense and is currently funded by the Craig H Neilsen Foundation.

Motion Analysis Laboratory & Biomechanical Analysis Lab

Principal Investigator

Margaret Finley, PT, PhD

Margaret A. Finley, PT, PhD
Associate Professor - Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science
View Faculty Profile

Doctoral Students

Liz-Euiler photo on a dock above water

PhD Student: Elizabeth Euiler, MS

Laura Baehr headshot standing in front of a wall indoors

PhD Student: Laura Baehr, PT, DPT

Research Collaborations

Internal Collaborators

  • Clare Milner, PhD, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
  • Sarah Wenger, PT, DPT, OCS, FNAP, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
  • Girija Kaimal, EdD, MA, Creative Arts Therapy
  • Thomas Trojian, MD, Professor, Director, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program; Drexel College of Medicine

External Collaborators

  • Shivayogi Hiremath, PhD - Temple University
  • Mary Schmidt-Read, PT, DT, MS- Spinal Cord Injury Program Director and Research Coordinator, Magee Rehabilitation Network, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Henry York, MD, Medical Director, SCI Unit, University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute
  • Paula Geigle, PT, PhD, University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute
DoD team standing in front of a blue sky

Integrated tele-exercise for individuals with SCI: psychological and social responses (2022–2024)

Funded by CHNF Psychological Research Program

Our goals to engage individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) as informed stakeholders and implement a participant-centered health and wellness program that addresses specific needs for accessible, individualized, peer-oriented physical activity and considers psychological and social wellness of a diverse individuals with SCI, across the lifespan. Our project will examine the feasibility of a community-based telehealth and wellness program that integrates physical activity, social engagement with an emphasis on promoting psychosocial wellbeing in individuals with SCI.

Role: Principal Investigator

Movement Connection: Physical activity engagement in those aging with Spinal Cord Injury (2020–2021)

Funded by Cell2Society Aging Research Network Pilot Funding

We aimed to implement an integrated health and wellness physical activity program to mitigate secondary conditions from living with SCI, a chronic health condition. The results of the current pilot investigation determine feasibility metrics as well as limited efficacy guiding further program development. Our long-term goal is to improve current management of SCI, prevent the development of secondary illness and enhance. This project addressed concerns in order to create an inclusive environment for individuals with SCI as well as prevent the development of secondary conditions. The Movement Connection Project is designed to address the unique concerns identified in our research findings by implementing accessible physical activity classes in our local as well as the broader community

Role: Principal Investigator

Development of a Biopsychosocial Prospective Surveillance Model of Shoulder Pain in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury (2017-2021)

Funded by s CDMRP Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (Award W81XWH-17-1-0476)

This study investigated the progression of musculoskeletal and psychosocial impairments for the first year following SCI, starting with inpatient rehabilitation, at 6 months, and at 1 year following injury. Our research is performed at two facilities: Drexel University (in collaboration with Magee Rehabilitation Hospital and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital) and the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute.

We aimed to identify sources of biopsychosocial shoulder pain to establish effective physical and cognitive-behavioral treatment to prevent loss of function and independence in individuals with SCI who depend on their arms for activities of daily living, transfers, and wheelchair propulsion. Early identification of problem areas may provide a method to refer a patient for treatment or to change ongoing intervention. Development of a biopsychosocial prospective surveillance model will provide a proactive approach to reduce the debilitating consequences of activity limitations and participation restrictions in individuals with SCI, reducing the burden currently experienced by military service members, veterans, and their families and caregivers.

Role: Principal Investigator

Engagement of stakeholder and community partners in a health and wellness program during community reintegration following Spinal Cord injury (2020-2021)

Funded by College of Nursing and Health Professions Accelerator Implementation Grant

Our purpose of this implementation accelerator grant was to engage stakeholders and community partners to identify specific needs, attitudes, perceptions and feasibility of physical activity (PA) interventions to individuals with new spinal cord injury (SCI). Magee Rehabilitation Hospital was the community partner. Through stakeholder focus groups we identified needs, attitudes, perceptions, barriers, facilitators and personal interest in participation in a community-based health and wellness program. Stakeholder groups were 1) individuals with newly acquired SCI; 2) caregivers/family members; and 3) wellness center personnel (to include rehabilitation therapists, wellness center trainers, administration.). Our long term objective is to determine if participation in a multidisciplinary community-based health and wellness program will improve biopsychosocial factors for individuals with SCI during the critical phase of transition to community living.

Association of quantitative pain thresholds and psychosocial factors in individuals with SCI (2019-CURRENT)

The aim of this project is to investigate quantitative pain measures and psychosocial factors that may associated with chronic pain in individuals with SCI. Information regarding the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the pain experience is limited with a clinical diagnosis. Quantitative sensory testing (QST) assesses the mechanisms that contribute to the development and/or maintenance of chronic pain. The variation in pain experience among those with SCI may be associated with differences in pain sensitivity, and understanding these differences may have significant clinical implications.

Role: Principal Investigator

Factors associated with shoulder pain in manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (2015-2017)

Funding provided by College of Nursing and Health Professions Early onset of shoulder pain in manual wheelchair users is predictive of persistent long term shoulder pain. Chronic rotator cuff disease, with resultant subacromial impingement syndrome, and chronic inflammatory conditions are the most common health conditions associated with shoulder pain in this population. Development of rotator cuff disease is multifactorial and includes intrinsic, extrinsic and overuse factors. The aims of this project are: 1) to compare neuromusculoskeletal factors associated with shoulder pain across groups of varied duration of injury and wheelchair use; 2) to identify neuromusculoskeletal factors that are predictive of shoulder pain in manual wheelchair users with SCI, across three different time intervals. Our hypothesis is that specific neuromusculoskeletal impairments will be predictive of shoulder pain at various time points following a spinal cord injury.

Role: Principal Investigator

Finley, M., Baehr, L., Bruneau, M., Kaimal, G. (2022) Group Tele-exercise for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study. Journal of Physical Activity Research, 7(1), 10-17. doi:10.12691/jpar-7-1-3.

Baehr, LA, Frey-Law, LA, Finley, M. Quantitative sensory changes related to physical activity in adult populations: A scoping review. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001883. PMID: 34508062

Finley, M., Euiler, E., Gracely, E., Baehr, L., Brownsberger, M. Schmidt-Read, M., Frye, SK., Kallins, M., Summers, A., York, H. Geigle, PR. Relationship of psychosocial factors and musculoskeletal pain among individuals with newly acquired spinal cord injury (2021) Spinal Cord Series and Cases ,7(1), 62. doi: 10.1038/s41394-021-00415-4.

Alizadeh, M., Manmatharayan, AR., Johnston, T., Finley M., Detloff, M., Sharan, A., Newburg, A., Krisa, L Mohamed, FB. Graph Theoretical Structural-Functional Connectome Analyses in Patients with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury: Preliminary Investigation. (2021) Spinal Cord Series and Cases, 7(1), 60. doi: 10.1038/s41394-021-00424-3

Kobal, K., Rubertone, P., Kelly, SP, Finley, MA. Comparison of instructional methods on clinical reasoning in entry-level physical therapy. (2021) Journal of Physical Therapy Education. 35(2), 138-145. doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000181

Finley, M., Euiler, E., Trojian, T., Gracely, E., Schmidt-Read, M., Frye, SK., Kallins, M., Summers, A., York, H. Geigle, PR. Shoulder impairment and pain of individuals with newly acquired spinal cord injury compared to uninjured peers (2020) Spinal Cord Series and Cases, 6(1).68. doi: 10.1038/s41394-020-0318-1

Finley, MA, Euiler, E., Hiremath, SV, Sarver, J. Movement coordination during humeral elevation in individuals with newly acquired spinal cord injury. (2020) Technical Note, Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 36(5), 345-350. doi.10.1123.jab.2019-0387.

Brindle, R., Ebaugh, DD, Willson, JD, Finley, MA, Shewokis, PA, Milner, CE. Relationships of hip abductor strength, neuromuscular control, and hip width to femoral length ratio with peak hip adduction angle in healthy female runners. (2020) Journal of Sports Sciences. 38:20, 2291-2297, doi:

Canori, A, Amiri, AM, Thapa-Chhetry, B, Finley, MA, Schmidt-Read, M, Lamboy, MR, Intille, SS, Hiremath, SV. Relationship between pain, fatigue, and physical activity levels during a technology-based physical activity intervention. (2020) Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. 2020 Jun:1-8. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2020.1766889

Margaret A. Finley, PT, PhD

Associate Professor
Drexel University
Dept of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science
Three Parkway Building
1601 Cherry Street, Mail Stop 7-502
Office 754
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Desk: 267-359-5583