Researcher

    Danielle Levac , Ph.D.

    danielle.levac.hsj@ssss.gouv.qc.ca
    Danielle Levac
    Research Axis
    Musculoskeletal Health, Rehabilitation and Medical Technologies Axis
    Research Theme
    Pediatric rehabilitation and sports medicine
    Address
    CHUSJ - Centre de Recherche

    Phone
    514 345-4931 8576

    Title

    • Associate Professor, University of Montreal (2021)
    • Assistant Professor, Northeastern University (2015-2021)

    Laboratory

    Laboratoire des Innovations Numériques, Polytechniques, et Interactives en Réadaptation pour Enfants (INSPIRE)

    Education

    • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Motor Control Laboratory (Dr. Heidi Sveistrup), University of Ottawa (2012-2014)
    • Ph. D., Rehabilitation Sciences, McMaster University (2012)
    • M. Sc., Rehabilitation Sciences, McMaster University (2007)
    • B. Sc., Physiotherapy, University of Ottawa (2001)

    Research Interests

    My research focuses on the integration of virtual reality and active video games in pediatric rehabilitation practice, particularly for children with cerebral palsy. The mission of LaboINSPIRE is to use a problem-based, integrated knowledge translationapproachin partnership with children, families and clinicians to promote the sustainable and evidence-based integration of digital innovations, such as virtual reality, in pediatric rehabilitation. All of our efforts are focused on the functional use of innovative, interactive and immersive technologies to facilitate the evolution of interventions from the clinical setting to children’s home, school and environments with the goal of improving their functioning and participation. We develop, create and evaluate digital interventions with the broad objective of creating best practice guidelines and a pan-Canadian knowledge transfer network that will help clinicians and families stay abreast of rapid developments in this field and improve the quality of pediatric rehabilitation and telerehabilitation. 

    Research Topics

    • Virtual reality integration in pediatric rehabilitation
    • Motor learning and transfer in virtual environments
    • Affective impacts of learning in immersive virtual environments
    • Knowledge translation of virtual reality research into clinical practice
    • Immersive virtual reality as an assessment and intervention method for children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy
    • Telerehabilitation using virtual reality for children with neuromotor impairments
    • Methodological conduct and reporting of scoping reviews

    Career Summary

    After completing her undergraduate training in physiotherapy at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Levac worked as a pediatric physiotherapist at McMaster Children's Hospital (Hamilton) and Bloorview Kids Rehab (Toronto) in acute care, rehabilitation and school health support. She completed her Masters and Doctorate in Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University, in the CanChild Center for Childhood Disability Research. Her graduate studies were funded by the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program. She then completed postdoctoral training, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa, before joining Northeastern University (Boston, MA, USA) in 2015 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. Her research program at Northeastern was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, the Deborah Munroe Noonan Foundation, the Charles H. Hood Foundation and the Tufts Medical Center Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

    Awards and Distinctions

    • 2020, Faculty Excellence in Community Engagement Award, Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences
    • 2019, Early Career Investigator Award, International Society for Virtual Rehabilitation
    • 2018, Best paper award, International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality, and Associated Technologies
    • 2017, Best presentation award, International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation

    Major Financing

    Levac (PI)
    01/09/2020-31/08/2021

    American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology/National Pediatric Rehabilitation Research Center (C-PROGRESS, NIH)

    Immersive virtual reality for eye-hand coordination assessment in children with hemiplegia

    Role: Principal Investigator

    NIH- K01HD093838
    Levac (PI)
    11/01/2017-10/30/2022

    National Institutes of Health Mentored Research Scientist Career Development (K01) award

    Enhancing transfer of motor skill learning from virtual to physical environments in children with cerebral palsy

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Levac (PI)
    01/01/2020-12/31/2020

    Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, Small Research Equipment Grant

    Taking virtual reality 'on the road': A mobile VR system to explore motor learning in children with cerebral palsy

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Levac (PI)
    1/07/2020 - 30/06/2021

    Northeastern University Mentored Tier 1 Research Grant

    Novel methods to quantify the affective impact of virtual reality for motor skill learning.

    Role: PI

    Northeastern University COVID-19 Crisis Seed Funding

    Assessing the impact of changes in therapy service delivery during the

    COVID-19 pandemic on function, socialization and participation of children with disabilities.

    Role: co-PI

    Levac (PI)
    07/01/2017-06/30/2019 
                                                            

    Charles H. Hood Foundation, Child Health Research Award                         

    Is motor learning enhanced by practice in a virtual environment for children with cerebral palsy?

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Levac (PI)
    05/01/2017-04/30/2018

    Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute Pilot Studies Grant

    Influence of virtual environment complexity on motor learning in children with cerebral palsy: Implications for virtual reality use in rehabilitation.

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Levac (PI)
    09/01/2016-08/31/2017

    Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund

    Usability evaluation of the FITBoard (Fun Interactive Therapy Board): A motivating, movement-based rehabilitation tool for children with disabilities.

    Role: Principal Investigator

    Presentations

    • Levac DE. (2021, September). Best practices for promoting the sustainable, evidence-based uptake of VR in rehabilitation’. New Perspectives in Virtual Rehabilitation: Breaking down barriers to clinical uptake / Methodologies of VR clinical trials.REHABWeek 2021 (Virtual).
    • Allison K, Levac DE. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on School-aged Children with Disabilities: Changes in Therapy Service Delivery and Functioning.American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, 2021 (Virtual).
    • Levac DE, Allison K. Device use during teletherapy sessions for children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic: Parent perspectives. Presentation at the VR4REHAB Conference - from ideas to reality - 24 June 2021
    • Levac DE. (2021, March). How do children with cerebral palsy learn and transfer new skills in virtual environments? 31st Physiotherapy Congress: New Technologies applied in physiotherapy. Escuela Universitaria de Fisioterapia de la Once; Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.
    • Levac DE, Glegg S, Pradhan S, Fox E, Chicklis E, Espy D & Deutsch J. (2019). A comparison of virtual reality and active video game usage, attitudes and learning needs among therapists in Canada and the US. 2019 International Conference on Virtual Rehabilitation (ICVR), Tel Aviv, Israel, 2019, pp. 1-7. DOI: 10.1109/ICVR46560.2019.8994624.

    Publications

    • Cheng, M., Anderson, M., Levac, D.E. Performance variability during motor learning of a new balance task in a non-immersive virtual environment in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy and typically developing peers. 2021. Frontiers in Neurology. 2021 Mar 15;12:623200. PMID: 33790848.
    • Levac, D.E., Huber, M., Sternad, D. Learning and transfer of complex motor skills in virtual reality: a perspective review. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. 2019 Oct 18;16(1):121. PMID: 31627755.
    • Rohrbach, N., Chicklis, E., Levac, D.E. What is the impact of user affect on motor learning in virtual environments after stroke? A scoping review. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation. 2019 Jun 27;16(1):79. PMID: 31248439.
    • Ryan, J.L., Wright, F.V., Levac, D.E. Exploring Physical Therapists’ Use of Motor Learning Strategies in Gait-based Physical Therapy Interventions for Children with Cerebral Palsy. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics. 2020;40(1):79-92. PMID: 31154883
    • Levac, D.E., & Lu A.S. Does narrative feedback enhance children’s motor learning in a virtual environment? Journal of Motor Behavior. 2019;51(2):199-211. PMID: 29708467
    • Levac D.E., Glegg, S.M.N. Barriers, facilitators and interventions to support virtual reality implementation in rehabilitation: A scoping review. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.  2018 Nov;10(11):1237-1251.e1. PMID: 30503231.
    • Levac D.E., Glegg, S., Colquhoun, H., Miller, P. & Wright, V. Virtual reality and active video game-based practice, learning needs and preferences: A cross-Canada survey of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Games for Health Journal. 2017 Aug;6(4):217-228. PMID: 28816511.
 

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