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.

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.

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:

  • 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

Ph.D. Students Post-Doctoral Fellow
Debbie Field Delphine Labbe
Bita Imam Pooja Viswanathan
Ed Giesbrecht
Emma Smith
Caryne Torkia

Trainee Awards

Year Name Award
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)
2013 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

  • Mattie, J, Borisoff, J, Miller, WC, Noureddin, B. 2017. Characterizing the community use of an ultralight wheelchair with "on the fly" adjustable seating functions: A pilot study.. PLoS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173662.
  • Routhier, F et al.. 2017. Clinicians' and Researchers' Perspectives on Manual Wheelchair Data Loggers.. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.01.013.
  • Smith, EM, Low, K, Miller, WC. 2017. Interrater and intrarater reliability of the wheelchair skills test version 4.2 for power wheelchair users.. Disabil Rehabil. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2016.1271464.
  • Rushton, PW et al.. 2016. Intelligent power wheelchair use in long-term care: potential users' experiences and perceptions.. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2016.1260653.
  • Zbogar, D, Eng, JJ, Miller, WC, Krassioukov, AV, Verrier, MC. 2016. Physical activity outside of structured therapy during inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation.. J Neuroeng Rehabil. doi: 10.1186/s12984-016-0208-8.
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