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 InterestsAging; Fatigue; Mobility; Occupational therapy; Self-efficacy; Wheelchair
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.
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.
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:
- Development and content validation of the Wheelchair Use Confidence Scale: A mixed-methods study
- A self-administered graded repetitive arm supplementary program (GRASP) improves arm function during inpatient stroke rehabilitation: A multi-site randomized controlled trial
- The development of the Wheelchair Outcome Measure (WhOM)
- Overarching principles and salient findings for inclusion in guidelines for power mobility use within residential care facilities
- Balance confidence among people with lower limb amputations
- The prevalence and risk factors of falling and fear of falling among lower extremity amputees
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 Student||Ph.D. Students||Post-Doctoral Fellow||Research Staff|
|Dolapo Owonuwa||Elham Esfandiari||Delphine Labbe||Kate Keetch|
|Darren Wiebe||Ed Giesbrecht*||Pooja Viswanathan||Matt Queree|
|Justin Turner||Debbie Field*||Naomi Bartz-McCormick|
|Talia Budlovsky||Bita Imam||Jennifer Zelmer|
|Rhiannon Evans||Emma Smith||Zoe Greig|
|Jeannise Nichols||Emma Vinnie|
|Alan Osiovich||Kaitlyn Lee|
|Abilee Kellet||Nathalie Manuel|
|Rhaya Howich||Colleen O’Melinn|
|Michelle Russell||Minnie Teng|
|Kimberley Jung||Isabel Gubas|
|Marina Khenson||Michael Li|
|Chelsey Tyler||Geoffrey Charm|
|Hina Mahmood||Amna Khan|
|Danelle Fuller||Halima Elmi|
* has graduated in the past year
|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)|
|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|
|Paula Rushton||Student Research Data Collection Award (BC Network for Aging Research)|
|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
- Routhier, F et al.. 2019. Mobility and Participation of People With Disabilities Using Mobility Assistive Technologies: Protocol for a Mixed-Methods Study.. JMIR Res Protoc. doi: 10.2196/12089.
- Labbé, D, Rushton, PW, Mortenson, WB, Demers, L, Miller, WC. 2019. Longitudinal Outcomes Among Family Caregivers of Power Mobility Users.. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2018.08.194.
- Imam, B, Miller, WC, Finlayson, HC, Eng, JJ, Jarus, T. 2019. Lower Limb Prosthetic Rehabilitation in Canada: A Survey Study.. Physiother Can. doi: 10.3138/ptc.2017-39.
- Smith, EM, Best, KL, Miller, WC. 2019. A condensed wheelchair skills training 'bootcamp' improves students' self-efficacy for assessing, training, spotting, and documenting manual and power wheelchair skills.. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2019.1572231.
- Bigras, C, Owonuwa, DD, Miller, WC, Archambault, PS. 2019. A scoping review of powered wheelchair driving tasks and performance-based outcomes.. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2018.1527957.