Sean Collins

Sean Collins, Physical Therapy, Biomedical Engineering

Associate Professor
O'Leary 540K

Research Interest

My research interests include clinical epistemology and reasoning, particularly the dynamic use of three modes of inference in practice (inductive, deductive and abductive). The underlying theory includes the hierarchy of adaptation (genomic, epigenetic, physiological, behavioral, cultural) and how these adaptive levels interact, influence each other and inform action based on our belief’s regarding causation and possible worlds. Current projects include a clinical practice guideline for physical therapists on heart failure in adults; a clinical summary of heart failure for the APTA evidence based practice web portal PT Now, and a book linking knowledge of pathophysiology as a foundation to the clinical reasoning process. I am also working with exercise physiology students on a project to better understand the fitness requirements of ice hockey. My foundation as an inquiring exercise physiology student and then physical therapist was expanded while doing my dissertation on job strain as a psychosocial environmental condition and its effect on cardiovascular adaptation between 1997 and 2003. In addition to the above consequences of this work, the work itself directly led to the development of novel approaches to data collection, analysis and interpretation and I continue to work on projects related to these approaches.

Educational Background

B.S. Exercise Physiology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1992
M.S. Physical Therapy, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 1994
Sc.D. Ergonomics, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 2003


Dr. Collins joined the faculty in September 1998, and served as Department Chair from 2008-2013.  His clinical experience focused on general and cardiopulmonary physical therapy.  Dr. Collins dissertation on “Job Strain and its Electrocardiographically Assessed Pathophysiological Correlates” in 2003 required computational modeling (at the level of raw electrocardiogram data and heart rate time series modeling) as well as bio-statistical analysis for within and between subject contrasts. This multi-scale approach to data integration and analysis in the consideration of human health, performance and disease continues to influence Dr. Collins’ teaching and research.

He has over 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals, has presented at local, national, and international conferences and is the author of a Cardiac System chapter in the Acute Care Handbook for Physical Therapists, edited by Jaime Paz and Michelle Panik; and a chapter on Cardiopulmonary Anatomy for Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy, a text edited by William DeTurk and Lawrence Cahalin.

Dr. Collins is an Associate Editor for the Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal and for the PT Now in the area of cardiovascular and pulmonary tests & measures. Dr. Collins is a peer reviewer for the journals: Hypertension; Safety and Health at Work; Computers in Biology and Medicine; and Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Collins is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, including the Cardiopulmonary Section and has been elected as a Fellow in the Human Biology Association. He has been accepted as a full member of the American Psychological Association and American Physiology Society (Exercise & Environmental Section; Cardiovascular Physiology Section; Teaching Physiology Section).  He is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and National Strength and Conditioning Association.