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David Morrisette

David Morrisette, PT, PhD, OCS, ATC

David Morrisette, PT, Ph.D., OCS, ATC
Director and Professor
Division of Physical Therapy
Department of Health Professions
151-B Rutledge Avenue, MSC 962
Charleston, SC 29425

Office: B310
Phone: 843-792-2940
Fax: 843-792-0710


  • Research Sabbatical:  Spinal Biomechanics Laboratory, Yale University (2005)
  • Ph.D. Physiology, Medical University of South Carolina (1997)
  • Post graduate course Work in Motor Control / Exercise Science. Non-degree, University of South Carolina (1989 – 1990) 
  • Post graduate course work in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Program (Musculoskeletal Track). Non-degree, Georgia State University (1986-1988)
  • PT, Emory University (1983)
  • Non-degree. Virginia Polytechnic and State University (1980)
  • MA Curriculum and Instruction, Athletic Training Certificate, West Virginia University (1979)
  • BA Education, Marshall University (1974)

Areas of Teaching

  • Musculoskeletal pathology, examination, diagnosis, and intervention
  • Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT)
  • Clinical Reasoning
  • Pharmacology

Research Interests

I am very interested in developing collaborative relationships for research, including with clinicians who are interested in research.

Current areas of focus are:

  1. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disease that affects over 15% of the population in the United States and it is projected that by 2020, 59.4 million Americans will have OA.  There is a substantial financial burden and functional impact placed on individuals, their families, and society due to OA.  The role interventions relevant to rehabilitation in the management of OA, particularly at the hip have received relatively little attention through systematic scientific research.  Recent clinical trials have indicated a beneficial effect for manual physical therapy (manipulation) for the functional limitations and pain related to OA at the hip and the knee.  A current project is underway to examine the use of manual physical therapy and exercise for OA of the hip.  The intervention is based on specific deficits found on examination and will be compared to a specific exercise program without manipulation (again based on specific deficits).  In addition, the interventions will be investigated in a population of individuals known to be vulnerable to co-morbid health problems that are influenced by activity level and who have been shown to be less likely to receive adequate pharmacological management or be accepting of total joint arthroplasty for OA. 
  2. Chronic pain is a common complication following spinal cord injury (SCI).  Two mechanisms for chronic pain in an individual with SCI are neuropathic pain and musculoskeletal (nociceptive) pain.  The classification between these two types of pain is not always reliable, and the prevalence of different types of musculoskeletal pain syndromes in individuals with SCI is not well understood.  Current work is designed to determine the prevalence of upper quarter (head, neck, upper back, shoulder, arm, and hand) pain in individuals with SCI.  This work will progress towards development of a reliable classification method for musculoskeletal pain syndromes and designing rehabilitation programs that may be beneficial in preventing and / or managing these syndromes in individuals with SCI.
  3. Recent evidence has demonstrated that individuals with spinal pain experience greater success with certain physical therapy interventions (manipulation and exercise) when the condition can be classified or even subclassified according to a specific intervention.  To date, spinal manipulation, “stabilization” exercise, and specific exercises that “centralize” symptoms have been investigated.  Clinical prediction rules have been developed and outcomes compared to other treatment guidelines.  In addition, research in the areas of motor control, imaging, and biomechanics of the spine is progressing at a rapid rate, but primarily focuses on a pathology model rather than classification by treatment category.  Projects are under development that will combine the use of imaging, electrophysiological, and biomechanical methods for investigation with clinical studies utilizing classification of patients according to treatment. This work will assist in understanding the mechanisms for dysfunction and the mechanisms for treatment success, along with the development of improved diagnostic testing and interventions.


  • Reeves NP, Everding VQ, Cholewicki J, Morrisette DC.  The effects of   active and passive trunk stiffness on mechanical stability and controllability of the spine.  Experimental Brain Research.  2006;174:694-700. Epub 2006 May 25. (Online First)
  • Cholewicki J, Reeves NP, Everding VQ, Morrisette DC.  Lumbosacral orthoses reduce trunk muscle activity in a postural control task. Journal of Biomechanics. 2006.
  • Krause JS, Morrisette D, Brotherton S, Karakostas T, Apple D.  Pain interference in ambulatory spinal cord injury.  Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. 2007;12:91-96.
  • Morrisette D, Brown D, Saladin M. The heating effect of continuous ultrasound on lumbar periarticular tissue. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy.  2004;34:754-760.
  • Midddaugh J, Morrisette D. Combining EMG Biofeedback with Physical Therapy for Treatment of Headache. In Shtark M.B. and Schwartz M.S. Eds. Biofeedback 4. Theory and Practice. Russia, Novosibirsk: CERIS. 2002, 231-237.
  • Midddaugh J, Morrisette D. Combining EMG Biofeedback with Physical Therapy for Treatment of Headache. Biofeedback. Spring 2000, 16-20.
  • Saladin L, Morrisette D, Brotherton S.  Making the Physical Therapy Referral in the Primary Care Setting.  Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.  Feb, 1999.


  • Nominated for College of Health Professions Teaching Excellence Award.  Multiple years.
  • Teaching Excellence Award.  Educator – Mentor.  Health Sciences Foundation.  Medical University of South Carolina.  2007
  • Developing Researcher Award. College of Health Professions. Medical University of South Carolina. 2006
  • Butch Buchanan Outstanding Clinician Award.  South Carolina Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.  2006
  • Honorary Inductee.  Alpha Theta Chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon, National Honor Society for Occupational Therapists.  March, 1999
  • Teaching Excellence Award.  Educator-Lecturer. Heath Sciences Foundation, Medical University of South Carolina.  1998
  • Outstanding Educator – Lecturer Award.  Health Sciences Foundation.  Medical University of South Carolina. 1998
  • Volunteer of the Year, Nurse Clinic for the Homeless - Interfaith Crisis Center.  1990


  • Morrisette DC.  Comparison of Inelastic and Elastic Lumbosacral Orthoses for the Management of Acute Episodes of Lower Back Pain . Aspen Medical Products. 2006 – 2008.  $70,000. 
  • Morrisette DC, (PI), King D, Saladin M. Management of Hip Osteoarthritis in African American’s with Co-morbid Conditions: Effects of Four-Weeks of Manual Physical Therapy in Combination with Exercise.  Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center, Department of Rheumatology, Medical University of South Carolina.  2006.  $50,000 for one-year.
  • Krause J, Brotherton S, Morrisette DC.  Ambulation and Secondary Complications:  Participants with Chronic Spinal Cord Injury, U.S. Department of Education/NIDRR 12/6/2006-12/5/2009, First year $149,979, total for three years is $449,954.  In submission.
  • Morrisette DC (PI), Richardson S, Coker J, Nietert, P.  The Prevalence of Upper Quarter Pain Among Persons with Long-term Spinal Cord Injury, PI. $75,000 South Carolina Spinal Injury Fund. August 2003 – February 2005.
  • Morrisette DC. (PI) Computer and Video Augmented Instruction versus Traditional Instruction for Didactic and Laboratory Skills Instruction and Learning in Rehabilitation Sciences.$8599.77 Research Committee, College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina. 
  • Morrisette DC. (PI) Computer assisted instruction for the musculoskeletal courses in the Physical Therapy Educational Program: Greenville and Charleston campuses. $17,000 The Palmetto Net Group.
  • Morrisette DC. The effects of head posture on cervical muscle function. $700.00 South Carolina Chapter of the APTA.
  • Morrisette DC. Effects of head posture on cervical muscle function. $3000.00 College of Health Professions Research Committee, Medical University of South Carolina.
  • Morrisette DC. Head posture effects on cervical muscle function. $250.00. South Carolina Chapter of the APTA. 
  • Morrisette DC. Computer Assisted Learning for the Analysis of Human Movement. $15,000 Information Technology Grant. Medical University of South Carolina.
  • Morrisette DC. Heating effects of therapeutic ultrasound on the lumbar spine. $300.00 from the South Carolina Chapter of the APTA.

Organization Memberships and Certifications

  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • South Carolina Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association
  • Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
  • Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists
  • Certificate in Manual Physical Therapy
  • Certificate in Athletic Training (Certified Athletic Trainer)

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