Dr. Paula van Wyk

Assistant Professor

Email:  pvanwyk@uwindsor.caPaula van Wyk
Phone: 519-253-3000 ext 4287
Office: HK 137


BHSc (Hons) - Western University
MHK - University of Windsor
Ph.D. - Western University

Post doc - Toronto Rehab Institute, University Health Network


Aging. We all do it. You are aging as you read this profile. Aging is not a synonym for BEING old, however. It is a process. We all age differently, but we only get to do it once. We do not get a practice run. In Canada, and in many other countries, there is a trend towards there being a greater number of older adults. With this demographic shift there are new opportunities and new challenges to which we will be exposed. Dr. van Wyk’s research interests include person-environment fit required to enable an older adult to remain living at home, cognitive reserve, increasing the quality of life among the increased quantity of life, caregiver burden, education in geriatrics, fall prevention, and rehabilitation interventions.
Older adults are essentially a “special population” or a “vulnerable population.” Dr. van Wyk also has research interests focused on improving the quality of care, quality of life and enabling physical abilities of individuals who may be considered a “special population.” In addition to older adults, this includes individuals with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s and an Autism Spectrum Disorder, to name a few.

Dr. van Wyk first became interested in kinesiology, how the body works, and injury prevention when she was younger. Dr. van Wyk was extensively involved in dance and a variety of sports. Thus, she wanted to understand how to fully optimize her abilities and avoid injuries. These interests expanded to how to minimize injuries among healthcare workers (nurses, personal support workers) and the patients for whom they care. Specifically, Dr. van Wyk has a passion for research related to transfers (bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to toilet, in and out of a motorized vehicle).

More recently, Dr. van Wyk has been investigating the role of physical literacy and health literacy plays in the motivation among older adults to remain physically active, and how older adults understand healthcare information related to their various potential interactions with the healthcare system.

Areas of Research Interest

In general, Dr. van Wyk uses various tools, skills and knowledge based on Motor Control/Behaviour, Ergonomics and Biomechanics, and Physiology to focus on ENABLING populations through the investigation and assessment of aspects related to:

  • E – Environments (e.g. Person-Environment Fit, Modifications, Environment Scan, Age-Friendly Environments/Age-Friendly Domains)
  • N – Nursing staff (e.g. Musculoskeletal Injuries, Patient Transfers, Attitudes)
  • A – Access to care (e.g. Transitions, Health Literacy) at-home Interventions, Community Rehab Tool)
  • B – barriers to mobility (e.g. Sarcopenia/Atrophy, Balance & Gait, Dual Task, Fall Prevention)
  • L – living actively/active living (e.g. Physical Literacy, Adapted Physical Activity, Aging Successfully, Physical Activity Guidelines
  • E – Equipment (e.g. Isometric Hang Grip Exercise [Hypertension and Orthostatic Hypotension], Modified Ride-on-Cars [GoBabyGo project])

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

  • Certificate of Online and Open Learning (COOL) – in progress
  • Anatomy of the 21st Century Online and Open Educator – completed
  • Practice what you teach: Practical tools and strategies for technology-enhanced teaching – in progress
  • Exploring the Edges of online teaching

Sample of Scholarly Activities

Book Chapter:

Weir, P.L., van Wyk, P.M., Smith, K.*, Deneau, J.*, & Horton, S. (2019). Aging and involvement in sport and physical activity. P. Crocker. Sport and Exercise Psychology: A Canadian Perspective: 4th Edition. (in press). Pearson, Canada
* denotes student involvement

Articles and Publications:

Baker, N., Freer, J., Fujita, N., Higgison, A., Lubrick, M., Sabourin, B.M., Sylvester, J., & van Wyk, P.M. (2020). Online Instructor Development: A COOL story. CELT (in press).

Mitchell, F.R.*, Santarossa, S.*, Ramawickrama, I.L.*, Rankin, E.F.*, Yaciuk, J.A.*, McMahon, E.R.*, & van Wyk, P.M. (2019). An evaluation of social media images portrayal of disability discourse: #amputeefitness. European Journal of Adapted Physical Activity (EUJAPA), 12(2): 1-15.

Deneau, J.*, Horton, S. & van Wyk, P.M. (2019). Seven ‘A’s of Active Aging: Older Men’s Suggestions for Physical Activity Programs. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity (JAPA), 28(1): 53-62.

Deneau, J.*, van Wyk, P.M., & Horton, S. (2019). Capitalizing on a “Huge Resource”: Successful Aging and Physically Active Leisure Perspectives from Older Males. Leisure Sciences, 2019: 1-18.

Gyemi, D.L.*, Clarke D., van Wyk, P.M., Altenhof, W.J., & Andrews, D.M. (2018). Quantifying forearm soft tissue motion from massless skin markers following forward fall hand impacts. International Journal of Kinesiology & Sport Science, 6(3): 1-11.

Deneau, J.*, van Wyk, P.M., Mallender, M.*, & Duquette, A. (2018). Anthropometry of the Canadian adult population: developing comprehensive, updated normative-reference standards. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 68: 199-204.

Gyemi, D.*, van Wyk, P.M., Allsop, M., Casey, J., & Andrews, D.M. (2016). 3D peak and cumulative low back and shoulder loads and postures during greenhouse pepper harvesting using a video-based approach. Work, 55, 817-829.

McGilton, K.S., Chu, C.H.*, Naglie, G., van Wyk, P.M., Stewart, S., & Davis, A. (2016). Factors influencing outcomes of older adults after undergoing rehabilitation for hip fracture. JAGS, 64, 1601-1609.

Chu, C.*, Paquin, K.*, Puts, M., Babineau, J., McGilton, K.M., & van Wyk, P.M. (2016). Community-based rehabilitation hip fracture rehabilitation interventions for older adults with cognitive impairment: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies, 3(1): 1-12.

van Wyk, P.M., Weir, P.L., & Andrews, D.M. (2015). Manual patient transfers used most often by nurses are consistent with their perceptions of transfer training, and performance confidence. Work, 50, 249-260.

van Wyk, P.M., Chu, C.*, Babineau, J., Puts, M., Brooks, D., Saragosa, M.*, & McGilton, K. (2014). Community-based rehabilitation post hospital discharge interventions for older adults with cognitive impairment following a hip fracture: a systematic review protocol. JMIR Research Protocols, 3(3): e47: 1-7.

van Wyk, P.M., Stewart, S., & McGilton, K.S. (2014). The effects of a person-centred rehabilitation model of care targeting older adults with cognitive impairment on healthcare practitioners. Advances in Aging Research, 3(1): 48-58.

van Wyk., P.M., & Salmoni, A. (2013). Using photovoice to identify patient transfers risk factors in a participatory ergonomics approach to reducing healthcare workers risk of injury in long-term care. International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 2, 49-65.

Fiedler, K.M., Weir, P.L., van Wyk, P.M., & Andrews, D.M. (2012). Analyzing what nurses do during work in a hospital setting: A feasibility study using video. Work, 43, 515-523.

DeForge, R., van Wyk, P., Hall, J., & Salmoni, A. (2011 – Dec). Afraid to care; unable to care: A critical ethnography within a long-term care home. Journal of Aging Studies, 25, 415-426.

Weir, P.L., Andrews, D.M., van Wyk, P.M., & Callaghan, J.P. (2011 – Feb). The influence of training on decision times and errors associated with classifying trunk postures using video-based posture assessment methods. Ergonomics, 54(2), 197-205.

* denotes student involvement