Dr. Stephen Robinovitch

B.App.Sc. Mechanical Engineering (University of British Columbia)
M.Sc., Ph.D. Medical Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Phone: (778) 782-3566
Fax: (778) 782-3040

Injury Prevention and Mobility Laboratory

Technology for Injury Prevention in Seniors

Injury Prevention & Mobility Biomechanics

My research focuses on understanding the cause and prevention of injuries in humans. Current projects focus on understanding the mechanisms of falls and fall-related injuries in older adults, and the mechanisms of injury in sports.

Falls in older adults. While falls in older adults have been studied intensely over the past 40 years, we lack objective evidence on the cause and circumstances of these events to inform prevention. We are addressing this barrier by collecting and analyzing video footage of real-life falls in older adults in two partnering two long-term care (LTC) homes. We are analyzing the data to generate a better understanding of human postural responses, and the cause and prevention of fall-related traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures. We are also developing wearable sensor systems that incorporate machine learning algorithms to automatically detect falls and monitor fall risk from the measured kinematics. Our approach has been adopted by several industry partners. Another focus of our efforts is to develop and evaluate protective clothing that is acceptable and effective in preventing fall-related injuries in older adults. In a cohort study of 14 LTC homes in BC, we found that wearable hip protectors were worn in 60% of falls, and reduced fracture risk 3-fold. We are now working with partners to develop implementation strategies to increase use of hip protectors in other areas of Canada and internationally. We also led the development of the first biomechanical testing standard for hip protectors, which has been adopted by research groups internationally.

Head impacts in ice hockey. Repeated head impacts in hockey and other contact sports, even at sub-concussive levels, are associated with long-term neurological damage. The mechanisms of these events are poorly understood. We have partnered with the SFU men’s hockey team to analyze the causes of head impacts to players and to examine how head accelerations can be reduced by modifications to protective gear and glass shielding.

Mechanisms of falls in mountain biking. Falls are common in mountain biking, and the consequences can be extreme. We are studying mountain biking as a microcosm for understanding decision making, risk taking, and postural responses for avoiding injury in the event of a fall.

Recent Publications

  • Chilton EP, Robinovitch SN: Perceived risk for falls and decision-making in riding raised ramps in mountain biking: A pilot study. Frontiers in Psychology, 14:1243536 (8 pages), 2023
  • Aguiar OMG, Chow TR, Chong H, Vakili O, Robinovitch SN: Associations between the circumstances and severity of head impacts in men's university ice hockey. Scientific Reports. 13(1):17402 (10 pages), 2023
  • Heidel MMM, Robinovitch SN, Yang Y: Association between falls, head impacts, and mortality among older adults in long-term care. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 24(12):1990-1995, 2023
  • Robinovitch SN, Onyejekwe C: Research priorities for wearable hip protectors for hip fracture prevention in long-term care. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 24(7):1010-1012, 2023
  • Te B, Komisar V, Aguiar OM, Shishov N, Robinovitch SN: Compensatory stepping responses during real-life falls in older adults. Gait Posture. 100:276-283, 2023
  • Komisar V, van Schooten KS, Aguiar OMG, Shishov N, Robinovitch SN. Circumstances of falls during sit-to-stand transfers in older people: a cohort study of video-captured falls in long-term care. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 104(4):533-540, 2023
  • Robinovitch SN, Dojnov A, Komisar V, Yang Y, Shishov N, Yu Y, Bercovitz I, Cusimano MD, Becker C, Mackey DC, Chong H: Protective responses of older adults for avoiding injury during falls: evidence from video capture of real-life falls in long-term care. Age Ageing. 51(12):afac273 (10 pages), 2022
  • Komisar V, Dojnov A, Yang Y, Shishov N, Chong H, Yu Y, Bercovitz I, Cusimano M, Becker C, Mackey DC, Robinovitch SN: Injuries from falls by older adults in long-term care captured on video: Prevalence of impacts and injuries to body parts. BMC Geriatrics. 22(1):1-11, 2022
  • Kudzia P, Robinovich SN, Donelan JM: Characterizing the performance of human leg external force control. Scientific Reports. 12(1): 1-12, 2022
  • Shishov N, Elabd K, Komisar V, Chong H, Robinovitch SN: Accuracy of Kinovea software in estimating body segment movements during falls captured on standard video: effects of fall direction, camera perspective and video calibration technique. PLOS ONE, 16(10): e0258923 (22 pages), 2021
  • Aguiar OMG , Radivojevic O , Potvin BM , Vakili O , Robinovitch SN: Effective stiffness, damping and mass of the body during laboratory simulations of shoulder checks in ice hockey. Sports Biomechanics. 28:1-12, 2021
  • Komisar V , Robinovitch SN: The role of fall biomechanics in the cause and prevention of bone fractures in older adults. Current Osteoporosis Reports. 19:381–390, 2021
  • Komisar V, Shishov N, Yang Y, Robinovitch SN. Effect of holding objects on the occurrence of head impact in falls by older adults: Evidence from real-life falls in long-term care. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 76(8): 1463-1470, 2021
  • Yang Y, van Schooten KS, McKay HA, Sims-Gould J, Hoang RA, Robinovitch SN. Recreational therapy to promote mobility in long-term care: A scoping review. J Aging Phys Act. 29(1): 142-161, 2021
  • Aguiar OMG, Potvin BM, Yang Y, Hua KN, Bruschetta ML, Virani S, Robinovitch SN: American society of biomechanics journal of biomechanics award 2019: Circumstances of head impacts in men's university ice hockey. Journal of Biomechanics. 108:109882 (7 pages), 2020
  • Kuo C, Shishov N, Elabd K, Komisar V, Chong H, Phu T, Anderson L, Hoshizaki B, Laing A, Cripton P, Robinovitch S. Estimating Trunk and Neck Stabilization for Avoiding Head Impact during Real-World Falls in Older Adults. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2020: 4823-4826.
  • Yang Y, Komisar V, Shishov N, Lo B, Korall AMB, Feldman F, Robinovitch SN: 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, 2020

For a full listing of publications, please visit PubMed