Université de Montréal
Laval University, Quebec, Canada B.Sc. (OT) 06/1995 Occupational Therapy
McGill University, Montreal, Canada M.Sc. 06/1998 Rehabilitation Sciences
McGill University, Montreal, Canada Ph.D. 06/2008 Rehabilitation Sciences
McGill University, Montreal, Canada Post-Doctoral fellowship 01/2010 Experimental Medicine
Positions and Honors
1999-2000 Occupational Therapist, acute care, McGill University Health Center (MUHC), Montreal
1999 Occupational Therapist, home care, CLSC du Vieux Lachine, Montreal.
1998-1999 Occupational Therapist, long-term care, Broad Acres Health and Rehabilitation Centre, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.
01/2010 - 06/2015 Assistant professor, occupational therapy program, University of Montreal
06/2015 - current Associate professor, occupational therapy program, University of Montreal
06/2019 - current Director of occupational therapy program, University of Montreal
01/2010 - current Researcher, Centre for interdisciplinary research in rehabilitation of Greater Montreal (CRIR).
2001-2002 Doctoral Training Award, McGill University Health Centre Research Institute. (5000 $)
2001-2004 Doctoral Training Award, Canadian Stroke Network. ($25,000 / year for 3 years)
2001-2004 Doctoral Training Award, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. ($40,000 / year for 2 years). DECLINED for multiple awards.
2004-2007 Postgraduate scholarship for holders of a professional permit from the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ). ($40,000 / year for 3 years).
2006 Presentation in Clinical Sciences - American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Boston, MA. (500 $)
2007 Award for best oral presentation. 6th Research Day, McGill University Health Centre. (1 000 $)
2008 Award in recognition and appreciation of long-term service to the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy In Clinical Education. McGill University.
2008 Award for Best Oral Presentation - Postdoctoral Level - Eastern Canada Health Outcomes Conference. Montreal. (1 500 $)
2008-2009 Postdoctoral Fellowship. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada/CIHR (partnership). ($25,000 per year for 2 years)
Contributions to Science
I have published over 40 peer-reviewed original full-length articles.
Complete List of Published Work: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Johanne_Higgins2/publications
My most significant contributions to science are:
Development and validation of measures of upper extremity function in different populations using Rasch analysis.
In terms of measurement in the field of rehabilitation, we have developed a unique bank and adaptive measure of upper extremity function items using an Item Response Theory Model (i.e., the Rasch measurement model). This allows true measurement of upper extremity function post-stroke and opens the way to computer adaptive testing, in which items are administered based upon previous responses or performance. Instead of being presented with all the items in a single test, patients need respond only to those items that are the most informative. This can considerably shorten the evaluation time required to determine the patient’s level of ability in upper extremity function and decrease the level of stress and fatigue for participants and therapists alike.
From this bank, we have developed an adaptive measure of upper extremity function, the Stroke Arm Ladder. The Stroke Arm Ladder is composed of a selection of items that are either observable tests of capacity or performance or questions aimed at identifying the activity and participation components of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The new measure displays sound psychometric characteristics and is designed to measure upper extremity function after a stroke.
We have also mapped numerous upper extremity function measures for persons with musculoskeletal conditions to the ICF. Our aim was to report the theoretical foundation of generic patient-reported outcomes for measuring functioning related to upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders and perform content coverage analysis and content comparison using the ICF.
We have evaluated the psychometric properties of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH), a frequently used patient-reported outcome measure. Its reliability and validity had never been demonstrated specifically for a population affected with Dupuytren's contracture. We found that the original version of the 30-item DASH did not display adequate validity evidence for use in a population with Dupuytren's contracture using the Rasch measurement model. Further development is required to improve the DASH for this population.
Higgins J, Finch L, Kopec J, Mayo NE. Development and initial psychometric evaluation of the stroke arm ladder - a measure of upper extremity function post-stroke. Clinical Rehabilitation. 52(8):740-759, 2011.
Higgins J, Finch L, Kopec J, Mayo NE. Development and initial psychometric evaluation of an item bank created to measure upper extremity function in persons with stroke. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 42:170–178, 2010.
Forget N*, Jerosch-Herold C, Shepstone L, and Higgins J. Psychometric evaluation of the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand with Dupuytren's contracture: validity evidence using Rasch modelling. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 30:15:361, 2014.
Forget N*, Higgins J. Comparison of generic patient-reported outcome measures used with upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders: linking process using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. 46:327-334, 2014.
The development of a measure of QoL for children in contexts of vulnerability
Improving and monitoring the quality of life (QoL) of an organization’s beneficiaries is a performance indicator particularly relevant for non-governmental organizations that want to assess the outcomes/impact of projects and activities deployed in various environments and with different populations. Yet the measures and methodologies to verify rigorously and adequately the impact of such projects and interventions are scarce. We received funding to work with Humanity and Inclusion (HI – formerly known as Handicap International) to develop a measure of QoL.
A new project piloted by HI aims to help communities to raise socially and emotionally healthy children in displacement settings, by creating safe opportunities for children to learn and develop their potential, whilst also having fun. The need for a tool capable of measuring the impact of such interventions on the QoL of children regardless of their gender, age or disability status is essential.
The aims of our study were to (1) develop a new measure of QoL (Scopieo-Kids) and to (2) evaluate the clinimetric properties of the Scopeo-Kids, including validity and reliability according to the Rasch measurement model. The specific project targeted children in contexts of vulnerability, namely, those living in refugee camps and host communities in Thailand, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The qualitative phase consisted of focus groups conducted with children and parents as well as field workers to explore the concept of QoL and to develop a core set of items and appropriate response options. Children, parents and field workers were involved in the design and content of the measure to ensure that it is meaningful and relevant to them and their living situations. The qualitative phase of this project led to the creation of a 43-item questionnaire with items rated on a 5-point scale.
Title of research project Organisation Year Amount Role
Development of a tool to measure children's quality of life IKEA foundation for children 2016-2019 70 000 Euros
(100 000 Can) Principal Investigator
Higgins J, Poissant L. Validity of the Scopeo-Kids: a new measure of quality of life for children living in contexts of vulnerability – A Rasch analysis. In preparation.
Additional Information: Research Support and/or Scholastic Performance
1 - NEURO-MBAM PROJECT: Characterization of the interaction of the effect of a museum visit on the mobility, cognition and well-being of people with an acquired brain injury or neurodegenerative disease (co-researcher). Quebec Network for Research on Aging Inter-network Pilot Project Grant Competition INTERREPAR- RQRV 2019-2020
Total - $30,000
2 - Relieving chronic pain in seniors using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS): towards a personalized care approach. (co-researcher). Réseau de bio-imagerie du Québec Regular Pilot Project Program
Total - $12,500
3- Technology for Innovation in Sensorimotor Upper and Lower Limb Rehabilitation in Post-Stroke and Spinal Cord Injuries (LMÉ) (co-investigator)
Lindsay Foundation Competition launched in September 2017 by PD Foundations
Total - $53,000
4- Characterize the interaction between the environment and the person during a musical visit: a feasibility study of multiple and specific data collection on mobility in space. (co-researcher)
Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et lesTechnologies (FQRNT) INTER mandate - strategic alliance.
Total - $21,410
5- Feasibility study to conduct a pragmatic randomized trial to evaluate the impact of accompanying resource patients in the burn unit at the CHUM (Co-principal investigator)
Fondation des Pompiers du Québec pour les Grands Brûlés (Quebec Firefighters Foundation for the Burn Victims)
Total - $50,000
6- The resource patient in the context of emergency microsurgical reimplantation. Controlled clinical trial in traumatic amputation victims in Quebec (Co-Principal Investigator)
Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQS) Consortium for the Development of Trauma Research
Total - $190,000
7- Optimization of the bimanual exerciser for the evaluation and training of the upper limbs of people who have suffered a stroke (INTER = 22
225$) (co-researcher) - Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Nature et les Technologies (FQRNT) Mandate INTER
Total - $73,425
8- Bilateral repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in acute post-stroke aphasia: Does it
stimulate changes in white matter? (Co-investigator) -Canadian Partnership for Stroke recovery CPSR-REPAR
Total - $50,000
9- Art therapy in the chronic phase of a stroke: a pilot study of feasibility. (Co-investigator)
Quebec Network for Research on Aging Pilot Projects 2017-2018
Total - $22,000
10- Towards the Co-creation of an Interdisciplinary Self-Management Support Program for Seniors with Chronic Pain (Co-investigator) - CRIUGM - Strategic and Structuring Research Projects Support Program
Total - $10,000
11- Brain Stimulation: An Innovative Approach to Treating Attention Deficits in Persons with Head Trauma (Principal Investigator) - CRIR New Initiatives
Total - $7,000
12- Development of an innovative approach combining virtual reality and transcranial stimulation to reduce neuropathic pain (Principal investigator)
CRIR New Initiatives
Total - $7,000