Christina Helging Opava

Christina Helging Opava

Professor Emeritus/Emerita
Visiting address: ANA 23 (B3), 14183 Huddinge
Postal address: H1 Neurobiologi, vårdvetenskap och samhälle, H1 Fysioterapi Brodin, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • Christina H Opava (formerly Stenström) is from 2021 Professor emerita, formerly a full Professor of physiotherapy since 2006, a registered physiotherapist since 1978 and formally specialised in physiotherapy in rheumatology since 1996. Founder and member of research team with main focus on Physical Activity and Health in Rheumatic Disease.

    Is a foreign adjunct professor at Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam College of Physiotherapy, Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences, Loni, India.

    Education and career:
    • University diploma, Physiotherapy, Lund University, 1978
    • Doctoral degree, Medical Science, Karolinska Institutet, 1993
    • Associate Professor (docent), Physiotherapy in Rheumatology, Karolinska Institutet, 1999
    • Full Professor, Physiotherapy, Karolinska Institutet, 2006

    Academic honours, awards and prizes:
    • Distinguished Scholar Award, Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, USA 2002
    • Nanna Svartz prize in Clinical Rheumatology Research, Pfizer/Swedish Rheumatology Association, 2004
    • Ann Kunkel Advocacy Award, Association of Rheumatology Health professionals, USA, 2016
    • Honorary membership, European League Against Rheumatism, 2017
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, Association of Rheumatology Health professionals, USA, 2018
    • Leadership in Rehabilitation Award, World Confederation for Physical Therapy, 2019
    • Honorary membership, Swedish Society of Rheumatology, 2019
    • Honorary membership, Swedish Physiotherapy Association, 2020
    • Honorary Award for Zealous and Devoted Service to the Nation, Swedish Agency for Government Employers/Karolinska Institutet, 2021
    • Silver Medal recognising excellent efforts to support the activities of Karolinska Institutet, 2021
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology, Health Professionals in Rheumatology, 2022


  • Main research focus on physical activity and exercise in the rheumatic diseases in intervention studies and implementation studies, development and adaptation of assessment methods and exploration of patients’ and care givers’ perspectives on physical activity. Studies on physical activity effects on mechanisms behind systemic and local inflammation, pain modulation and cardiovascular function are performed in collaboration with specilists in these areas. The research is translational and multiprofessional and performed in collaboration with researchers from multiple universities in Sweden and abroad.


  • Teaching experiences mainly from the KI physiotherapy program, but also from all levels at eight Swedish universities and in the USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and India. Development and administration of courses within the KI Physiotherapy program and editorship and writing of textbooks (chapter) and other teaching materials in Swedish and English.

    Regular lectures and presentations on evidence-based physiotherapy by invitations from clinics, professional organisations and patient organisations.


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