Occupational TherapyWestern Health Sciences

Research Interests

The School of Occupational Therapy has highly qualified faculty with specialized area of research including the following:

  • Accessibility for persons with disabilities
  • Analysis of human movement
  • Assistive technology
  • Client-centered practice
  • Clinical/fieldwork education and evaluation
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Education, policies and practices influencing occupations in the health professions
  • Environmental influences of childhood obesity
  • Ethical issues in occupational therapy practice
  • Falls and fear of falling
  • Impact of vision impairments
  • Issues in safe and timely return to work
  • Occupational competence in children
  • Occupational engagement
  • Occupational narratives
  • Occupation of adults with persistent and serious mental illness
  • Physical accessibility
  • Physical activity participation
  • Professionalism and mentorship
  • Reflective practice
  • Rehabilitation measurement
  • Safe transportation
  • Social and political influences on occupation

Research Facilities

AUTO21 Research Lab

The research conducted in this lab investigates safe transportation for seniors. Ongoing projects investigate the fit between the environment (i.e., the automobile) and the needs and abilities of seniors, including:

  • Survey of seniors' readiness and use of vehicular technology and strategies used to maintain safe driving
  • Biomechanical analyses of seniors' use of various devices and controls within the vehicle and an occupational analysis of seniors' use of emerging vehicular technologies

These projects are done in collaboration with the University of Alberta, Lakehead University, and the University of Waterloo. In addition, work is done to understand outcomes of seating and mobility technology. Current projects include analysis of pressure distribution using wheelchair tilt technology and development of an outcome measurement of seating and mobility intervention, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia.

Child Health & Physical Activity Laboratory

Through measurement and promotion, the Child Health & Physical Activity Laboratory is dedicated to better understanding the components that impact the physical activity levels of preschool-aged children and the environmental influences of physical activity in childcare settings.

Driving Rehabilitation and Community Mobility Lab

For more information please contact Sherrilene Classen, PhD

We use multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and international collaborations to research fitness to drive abilities of at-risk older drivers, drivers with neurological conditions (Parkinson’s Disease and Returning Combat Veterans with TBI and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and adolescent drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Believing that driving is a powerful facilitator for occupational performance, societal participation, well-being, and quality of life, we are specifically:

  1. Examining the predictive validity of driving screening tools and off-road clinical tests
  2. Testing intervention strategies for driving rehabilitation via simulated and/or on-road driving
  3. Understanding participants’ lived experiences of driving cessation
  4. Finding acceptable, accessible, available, and affordable alternative transportation options

Fieldwork Research and Student Resource Lab

This area is designed to serve as a resource area for students as well as Prof. Bossers' research space. There are a number of general resources and fieldwork facility files. Research areas for Prof. Bossers include models of fieldwork, professionalism and mentorship, and competency based evaluation.

Interdisciplinary Movement Disorder Laboratory

This laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the assessment of gait, posture, and upper limb movement. Researchers within this lab are currently working on the evaluation of function, and the assessment of rehabilitation strategies within a variety of populations experiencing movement disorders (e.g., Parkinson's disease).

Occupation and Later Life Laboratory

Research occurring within this lab seeks to further our understanding of occupation in later life, including its relationship to health and well-being, barriers and facilitators to occupational participation, and strategies to enable occupation. Specific foci include retirement, later life work, and adaptation to disability.

Occupational Science Research Laboratory

The overarching aim of research in the Occupational Science Laboratory is to advance the understanding of the multi-faceted relationship of occupation, both in terms of participation and lack of participation, to health, quality of life and productivity. Research is predicated on a broad notion of occupation, consistent with the discipline of occupational science, to include the various forms of doing people engage in within a variety of life realms (e.g. work, creative pursuits, leisure, self-care, etc.). Current themes of research include: environmental barriers to and facilitators of occupation for individuals and groups; the changing nature of occupations in contemporary Canadian society; and strategies for enabling occupation.

Occupational Performance Laboratory Classroom Instruction

The occupational performance laboratory is designed to be used for teaching and research in occupational performance including: self-care tasks, household chores, work, leisure and play activities. The lab consists of a central teaching area surrounded by breakout spaces or pods. These pods include a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living room.

Practice Dimensions Laboratory

Areas of research include the study of various dimensions of professional life, professional identity, and professional practice. Such dimensions include reflective practice, discernment, clinical reasoning, ethical relationship, ethical uses of power, moral reasoning, mentorship, identity, narrative, intersubjectivity, dialogue, and arts-based approaches to reflection, therapy and education.

Rehabilitation Measurement Lab

The research conducted in these labs pertains to the measurement of rehabilitation phenomena. Many aspects of rehabilitation and occupation are not easily measured; research in these labs focuses on the development of reliable and valid methods of measuring phenomena important to understanding occupational performance and the rehabilitation process. Current projects include the development of an instrument to measure the physical accessibility of schools, the measurement of chronic health and disability as distinct constructs in survey research, and the use of the repertory grid to measure personal constructions of participation. The Rehabilitation Measurement Laboratory comprises two offices, an office for computing activities such as computerized testing and data analysis, and an office for individual testing and interviewing.

Supervised Research in Occupation (SRO) Support Office

This office-based resource allows students to access word processing facilities and the internet to support their supervised research projects. A compact cassette dictating/transcribing system is also available to support qualitative studies.

Work Transitions and Work Practice Laboratory

The research conducted in this lab investigates issues in work rehabilitation practice that focus on the workplace, workers (clients), and service providers. Projects will also focus on the tools used to evaluate the workplace using an occupational framework. Projects developing and evaluating tools that offer workers (clients) opportunities to be included in assessment, goal setting, planning, and implementation of programs will be initiated. In addition, this lab will develop and evaluate provider-training resources, which support involving workers in the work rehabilitation process.