Vicki Komisar

Assistant Professor

Mechanical, School of Engineering

Graduate student supervisor

Research Summary

Assistive Technology; Aging; Fall and Injury Prevention; Biomechanics; Motor Control, Ergonomics; Accessible Design

Courses & Teaching

Wearable Devices


Vicki Komisar is an assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering (Digital Health Technologies) at the School of Engineering at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus). Her research aims to promote safety and independence in activities of daily living (e.g., walking or rising from bed), and prevent falls and fall-related injuries. To achieve this, she uses the tools of biomechanics and motor control to generate evidence on how the design of assistive technologies and built environments (e.g., stairways and corridors) affects balance control and risk for falls and injuries. This evidence informs the development of building codes, accessibility standards, and design guidelines, for safer assistive technology and built environment design.

Dr. Komisar completed her PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute where she researched the effect of handrail height on balance recovery reactions.  She holds an MSc (with distinction) from Imperial College London and a BASc in Engineering Science (Biomedical Engineering Option) from the University of Toronto.

She developed and evaluated technologies for preventing fall-related injuries while promoting mobility in frail older adults as a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) and AGE-WELL Postdoctoral Fellow with the Injury Prevention and Mobility Laboratory at Simon Fraser University.

Dr. Komisar’s research expertise is complemented by four years of working with Hart Mobility, with whom she collaborated to invent, develop and commercialize two novel transfer and walking aids that incorporated her research on handrail design. Both aids are patented and are on the market.


PhD – (Biomedical Engineering) University of Toronto, Canada
MSc with Distinction – (Biomedical Engineering – Neurotechnology Stream) Imperial College London, United Kingdom
BASc – (Engineering Science – Biomedical Engineering Option) University of Toronto, Canada

Research Interests & Projects

With a focus on mobility, aging, and fall and injury prevention, Dr. Komisar uses engineering design, biomedical signal processing, ergonomics, biomechanics, motor control, and statistics to develop and evaluate technologies that make the world a safer place. She collaborates with other engineers, scientists, clinicians, and community partners (including older adults and caregivers) to achieve these goals.

Selected Publications & Presentations

For up-to-date publications, please see Dr. Komisar’s Google Scholar

  1. V Komisar, N Shishov, Y Yang, SN Robinovitch. (2020). Effect of holding objects on the occurrence of head impact in falls by older adults: Evidence from real-life falls in long-term care. The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences; in press.
  2. Y Yang, V Komisar, N Shishov, B Lo, AMB Korall, F Feldman, SN Robinovitch. (2020). The effect of fall biomechanics on risk for hip fracture in older adults: A cohort study of video-captured falls in long-term care. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 35 (10): 1914-1922.
  3. P Gosine, V Komisar, AC Novak. (2020). A kinematic analysis of balance recovery following an unexpected forward balance loss during stair descent. Applied Ergonomics; in press
  4. V Komisar, BE Maki, AC Novak. (2019). Effect of handrail height and age on the timing and speed of reach-to-grasp balance recovery reactions during slope descent. Applied Ergonomics; 81; 102873.
  5. V Komisar, K Nirmalanathan, EC King, BE Maki, AC Novak. (2019). Use of handrails for balance and stability: Characterizing loading profiles in younger adults. Applied Ergonomics. 79: 20-31.
  6. V Komisar, WE McIlroy, CA Duncan. (2019). Individual, task and environmental influences on balance recovery: A narrative review of the literature and insights for preventing occupational falls. IISE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors; 7(2): 91-118.
  7. E Post**, V Komisar**, J Sims-Gould, AMB Korall, F Feldman, SN Robinovitch. (2019). Development of a stick-on hip protector: A multiple-methods study to improve hip protector design for older adults in the acute care environment. Journal of Rehabilitative and Assistive Technology Engineering; 6: 1-11. (** joint primary author).
  8. P Gosine, V Komisar, AC Novak. (2019). Characterizing the demands of backward balance loss and fall recovery during stair descent to prevent injury. Applied Ergonomics; 81; 102900.
  9. V Komisar, K Nirmalanathan, AC Novak. (2018). Influence of handrail height and fall direction on center of mass control and the physical demands of reach-to-grasp balance recovery reactions. Gait and Posture. 60: 209-216.
  10. V Komisar, AC Novak, BC Haycock. (2017). A novel method for synchronizing motion capture data with other data sources for millisecond-level precision. Gait and Posture. 51: 125-131.
  11. AC Novak, V Komisar, BE Maki, GR Fernie. (2016). Age-related differences in dynamic balance control during stair descent and effect of varying step geometry. Applied Ergonomics. 52: 275-284.

Selected Grants & Awards

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2019-2020

AGE-WELL NCE Postdoctoral Fellowship in Technology and Aging, 2018-2019

AGE-WELL NCE Graduate Scholarship in Technology and Aging, 2015-2017

Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Graduate Student Scholarships, 2013-2017

Ontario Graduate Scholarships, 2014-2016

Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, 2017

Professional Services/Affiliations/Committees

Engineer in Training (E.I.T.), Association of Professional Engineers and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGA), Canada.


“Reducing the risk of falls and minimizing their consequences”, The Globe and Mail – Aging Well special report,

“Technology’s stand on fall prevention”, YouAreUNLTD Magazine,


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