Karen Dodd is the Vice-President (Health, Sport and Active Living) and Executive Dean, College of Sport, Health & Engineering.

Professor Dodd has a strong vision for the development of the College of Sport, Health & Engineering at VU. Central to the vision is to:

  • integrate teaching and research
  • provide an excellent student experience
  • offer employers and students high quality and relevant courses that lead to interesting future careers in the Health and Human services areas.

Karen’s broad research interests focus on the effects of physical activity and community-based exercise programs on the health and physical functioning of people with neurological conditions, particularly people with Cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and Stroke.

Prior to starting at VU, Karen was Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Partnerships) in the College of Science, Health and Engineering at La Trobe University (2014-2017). She has held a number of senior university leadership roles at La Trobe University including:

  • a term as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (2011-2014)
  • Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences (2010-2012)
  • Head of the School of Allied Health (2007-2010)
  • Head of the discipline of Physiotherapy (2006-2007).

Karen’s first degree was in physiotherapy and she is still a registered Physiotherapist in Australia. Her clinical expertise is primarily in the area of Paediatric physiotherapy, particularly community based therapy. She was a senior lecturer teaching paediatric physiotherapy and evidence based practice for more than 15 years. 


To date Karen has published over 90 refereed journal articles, including publications in leading international high impact journals such as Gait & Posture (IF-2.313), Multiple Sclerosis (IF-4.230), The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (IF-2.967), Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology (IF-2.083) and BMC Pediatrics (IF-2.11).

She has also written four books (one of which has been translated into Japanese) based on her research.


Dodd KJ, Imms C & Taylor N (Eds) (2010). Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy for People with Cerebral Palsy: A Problem-Based Approach to Assessment and Management. London, McKeith Press.          

Dodd KJ, & Taylor NF. (2005). Strength training for young people with cerebral palsy (DVD and booklet). Melbourne, COMET La Trobe University.  ISBN 1-920-94855-4.

Morris ME, Dodd KJ, & Taylor NF. (2004). AusTOMs for Physiotherapy. Melbourne: La Trobe University.  ISBN 1-920948-48-1.

Refereed journal articles

Cleary S, Taylor N F, Dodd KJ, Shields N (in press). A qualitative evaluation of an aerobic exercise programme for young people with cerebral palsy in specialist schools. Developmental Neurorehabilitation

Cleary S, Taylor N F, Dodd KJ, Shields N (in press). An aerobic exercise programme for young people with cerebral palsy in specialist schools: a phase I randomised controlled trial. Developmental Neurorehabilitation

Bruder AM, Shields N, Dodd KJ, Hau R, Taylor NF (Epub 2016 Jun 18). A progressive exercise and structured advice program does not improve activity more than structured advice alone following a distal radial fracture: a multi-centre, randomised trial. Journal of Physiotherapy.

Davies SE, Dodd KJ, Hill KD (Epub 2016 Apr 4:1-10). Does cultural and linguistic diversity affect health-related outcomes for people with stroke at discharge from hospital? Disability and Rehabilitation.

Davies SE, Dodd KJ, Tu A, Zucchi Z, Zen S, Hill KD (2016) Does English proficiency impact on health outcomes for inpatients undergoing stroke rehabilitation? Disability and Rehabilitation. Jul;38(14):1350-8.

Refereed book chapters

Morris, ME, Bilney, B, Dodd, K, Denisenko, S, Baker, R, Dobson, F & McGinley, J. Clinical Gait Analysis in Neurology (2005).  In: Hausdor J & Alexander N (eds)  Gait Disorders: Evaluation and Management, London, Taylor & Francis, Ch 13: pp 247-271.

Morris, M, Jayalath, V, Huxham, F, Dodd, K, & Oates, J (2005).  Strategies to minimize impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions in parkinson’s disease.  In: Refshauge, K, Ada, L & Ellis, E (eds).  Science-Based Rehabilitation: Theories into Practice, Ch 10: pp 223-248.

Dodd KJ, Taylor NF, & Bradley S. 2004.  Strength training for older people.  In Optimizing exercise and physical activity in older people.  Eds. Morris M, Schoo A. Edinburgh, Butterworth-Heinemann.  Ch 7: pp 125-158.  ISBN: 0-750-65479-1.

Morris, M., Bruce, M., Smithson, F., Collier, J., Gardiner, R., Dodd, K., Bond, J., & Huxham, F. (1997).  Physiotherapy strategies for people with Parkinson’s disease.  In M. Morris and R. Iansek (Eds), Parkinson’s Disease: A Team Approach.  Ch 3: pp. 27-64.  Cheltenham: Southern Health Care Network.



Primary supervision of 6 PhD students to completion, 2 Professional doctorates, 3 Masters and 15 Honours students.

Current supersision

Currently co-supervisor of 1 PhD, Primary supervisor of 1 Professional doctorate and 2 Masters students

Areas of expertise

  • Exercise and fitness in people with chronic health conditions
  • Interdisciplinary education
  • Rehabilitation of gait in people with neurological conditions

Contact details

(03) 9919 2342