Dr. William Miller

Principal Investigator

B.Sc. [OT] (University of British Columbia), M.Sc. [OT] (University of Western Ontario), Ph.D. [Epidemiology & Biostatistics] (University of Western Ontario), Post-Doctoral Fellowship (University of British Columbia)
Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Associate Dean, Health Profession, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia

Research Interests

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Dr. Miller works on wheelchair mobility issues, wheeled mobility devices, determinants of wheelchair use, developing and evaluating measurement tools, balance and ambulation confidence, and the assessment of technology used to assist with mobility. He also researches the social impacts of wheelchair use. The goal of improving mobility for wheelchair users is to help them integrate back into society more easily and effectively. Dr. Miller’s childhood was spent with a father who was in a wheelchair following military service, and thus, for Dr. Miller wheelchairs were a part of regular life. It wasn’t until he headed out on his own that he realized that life was different for many, and he decided then to help improve life for all wheelchair users.Em

Dr. Miller is a Professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of British Columbia. He also holds a joint appointment with the UBC School of Rehabilitation Sciences and is a Principal Investigator at ICORD. He pursued his B.Sc. in occupational therapy at the University of British Columbia, followed by an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship back at the University of British Columbia.

For Dr. Miller, the interdisciplinary nature of ICORD is its main strength. It grants researchers the ability to see something from an entirely different perspective, using different lenses to view the world and the research related to SCI.

Currently recruiting for:

Evaluation of occupational engagement while using an activity chair

This UBC Master of Occupational Therapy capstone project aims to understand how the use of an activity chair affects daily living among adults with chronic conditions resulting in pain, fatigue, or low standing endurance. Participants will first decide on an Read More...

eHealth program to support family caregivers of individuals with SCI

As part of our multi-phase eHealth module development study, we have completed our first stage of co-creating the contents of the module from family caregivers and healthcare professionals through numerous interviews. We have identified 9 main topics that may be Read More...

Exploring empathy amongst individuals with SCI or TBI

The purpose of this study is to explore the role of empathy in the daily lives of individuals who have an acquired spinal cord injury (SCI) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI). Individuals will participate in a phone or Zoom interview Read More...

Recent Collaborations:

The Canwheel team encompasses six institutions from across Canada with fourteen investigators (including ICORD researcher Dr. Bonnie Sawatzky) from a wide variety of fields, including Psychiatry, Occupational Therapy, Engineering, Gerontology, and Sociology. There are five main projects designed to provide a comprehensive, systematic, and unified approach to enhancing the mobility of older adult wheelchair users.

Dr. Miller is a member of F2N2, otherwise known as Fatigue and Function of Neuromuscular and Neurological conditions. This team of local investigators, which includes ICORD clinical scientists Drs. Hugh Anton, Sue Forwell, and Andrea Townson, is attempting to address the debilitating effects of fatigue by developing improved measures and strategies to cope with this secondary health condition.

Dr. Miller is co-investigating a number assistive technology development projects with ICORD scholar Dr. Jaimie Borisoff. Together they are examining clinical and consumer views of a novel accessibility design (e.g. outside stair lift) as well as the utility of the elevation wheelchair.

Major Findings:

Dr. Miller’s work has developed to remedy what he sees as a real gap in rehabilitation: the role of self-efficacy in mobility issues arising during rehabilitation. Many rehabilitation professionals focus on skills but not on confidence. Dr. Miller’s work suggests that confidence is perhaps even more important, as it provides greater motivation than the development of specific skills. Dr. Miller was among the first to publish in this area for key rehabilitation populations (e.g. lower limb amputation, stroke and spinal cord injury) in areas related to falling, ambulation and wheelchair use. Members of his lab are currently developing interventions to promote confidence which will hopefully lead to increased participation in social activities.

Dr. Miller research program also features the development and evaluation of clinical outcome measures. The focus of his work to date relates to measures of wheelchair seating and mobility as well as tools designed to capture information on confidence with ambulation and wheelchair use.

For more of Dr. Miller’s major findings, please see the selected publications below, as well as his recent publications listed at the bottom of the page:

Techniques employed in the lab:

  • Measurement tool development including item response and classical test theory
  • Physical activity for assessment of mobility technology
  • Randomized control trials
  • Simulated outdoor environment for wheelchair skills training
  • Social cognitive theory to examine both mobility and fatigue
  • Virtual reality software (Wii Fit)

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • Canadian Association of Gerontology (CAG)
  • Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)
  • Canadian Society of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CSEB)
  • Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation (C2E2)
  • Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)


Some of Dr. Miller’s recent awards and accomplishments include:

  • Barbara Sexton Lectureship (Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, 2016)
  • Nominated for Excellence in Student Mentoring: In Honour of Evelyn Shapiro (Canadian Association on Gerontology, 2016)
  • Swinburne Visiting Fellowship (Swinburne Institute of Technology, 2016)
  • Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Fellowship (Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, 2010)
  • Outstanding Occupational Therapist Award (BC Society of Occupational Therapists, 2005)
  • Ginny Fearing Learning as a Way of Being Award (Bridges 5, 2002)

Current Lab Members

Masters of Occupational Therapy Students Ph.D. Students Post-Doctoral Fellow Research Staff
Colby Draney* Gordon Tao Dr. Somayyeh Mohammadi Heather Cathcart
Maureen Montealegre* Tanya Fawkes Noah Tregobov
Lisa Hsieh Isabelle Rash Ethan Simpson
Brittany Wong Pegah Derakhashan Olivia Yung
Colleen Hamilton Himani Parajapati Kai Leong
Nicole Ruston Farzad Ravari Natalie Yu
Josh Ferreira Staci Mannella
Carly Jordan Parmeet Matharu
Buffy Chen* Sarah Park
Eunice Wong* Aditya Dhariwal
Rebecca Wong
Victoria Mah
Rita Jin
Magalee Blumenkrans

*has graduated in the past year

Trainee Awards

Year Name Award
2017-2021 Elham Esfandiari Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (UBC)
2016-2019 Elham Esfandiari Rehab Sciences PhD Scholarship (UBC)
2017 Elham Esfandiari Travel Grant (ISPO 2017 World Congress)
2016 Pooja Viswanathan Strategic Investment Project Award (AGEWELL)
2016 Pooja Viswanathan Access Award (AGEWELL)
2016 Pooja Viswanathan Postdoctoral Trainee Award (AGEWELL)
2016 Emma Smith Friedman Scholarship (UBC)
2016-2019 Emma Smith Fellowship Health Professional (CIHR)
2016 Emma Smith Most Moving Demo (AGEWELL)
2015-2018 Emma Smith ab Sciences PhD Scholarship (UBC)
2014 Kay Fung UBC Delegate for the Canadian National Medical Students Research Symposium (CNMSRS)
Bita Imam
  • Vanier Scholarship (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Killam Fellowship Award (UBC)
  • Doctoral Award (CIHR) [declined]
  • 4 Year Doctoral Fellowship (UBC) [declined]
Emma Smith
  • 2nd Place in the Three Minute Thesis in the Faculty Level (UBC Faculty of Medicine)
  • Student Travel Grant (Canadian Association on Gerontology)
  • Rehabilitation Sciences Alumni Margaret Hood Scholarship in Occupational Therapy (UBC)
  • Faculty of Medicine Graduate Award (UBC)
  • Emerging Leader Award (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America)
3 Bitma Imam Rising Star Award (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute)
Brodie Sakakibara Postdoctoral Award (Canadian Association of Gerontology)
2012 Brodie Sakakibara Doctoral Trainee Competition (Canadian Association on Gerontology)
2010 Debbie Field Women’s & Children’s Professional Development Scholarship Fund
Ed Giesbrecht UBC 4 for 4 Entrance Scholarship, 2010-2014
Jeanne Yiu British Columbia Society of Occupational Therapists Shaugnessey Research Award
2009 Krista Best
  • 4 for 4 Entrance Scholarships
  • PhD Scholarship (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) [Declined]
Paula Rushton  Student Research Data Collection Award (BC Network for Aging Research)
Brodie Sakakibara
  • Frederick Banting & Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Level (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
  • Margaret Hood Scholarship
 2008 Paula Rushton  PhD Trainee Award, 2008-2011 (Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research)
2007 Cary Cunic Rejean Hebert Prize in Geriatric Research (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)
Christie Ekegren Women’s Auxiliary Scholarship in Rehabilitation Sciences
Paula Rushton Clinical Post-Doctoral Scholarship, 2007-2011 (Canadian Institutes of Health Research)

Current Opportunities in the Lab

If people are interested in wheel mobility and Dr. Miller’s research, then please contact Dr. Miller with inquiries.

Recent publications

  • Kenyon, LK et al.. 2024. Enabled to Stand: A Single-subject Research Design Study Exploring Pediatric Power Wheelchair Standing Device Use.. Pediatr Phys Ther. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000001110.
  • Rash, I, Miller, WC, Tao, G, Payne, MW. 2024. What are relevant predictors of physical activity in older adults with lower limb loss (LLL)? Results of a retrospective analysis.. Prosthet Orthot Int. doi: 10.1097/PXR.0000000000000336.
  • Esfandiari, E, Miller, WC, King, S, Ashe, MC, Mortenson, WB. 2024. A qualitative study of clinicians' and individuals' with lower limb loss perspectives on the development of a novel online self-management program.. Disabil Rehabil. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2024.2326185.
  • Simpson, E, Miller, WC, Schmidt, J, Borisoff, J, Mortenson, WB. 2024. Changes in functioning and health during the first 6-months of the COVID-19 pandemic among individuals with a spinal cord injury.. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0299570.
  • Labbé, D et al.. 2024. Positive and negative experiences of caregivers helping power wheelchair users: a mixed-method study.. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2024.2313080.
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