Faculty  >  Vrkljan, Brenda H.
Vrkljan, Brenda H.
Contact Information

Phone: (905) 525-9140 ext: 27817
Fax: (905) 521-0069
Office: Rm. 450, IAHS
Email: vrkljan@mcmaster.ca
Curriculum Vitae: Download



While working as an occupational therapist at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance in Chatham, ON, Brenda learned just how important driving an automobile was to her patients, particularly her older clients. The lack of research evidence to address the issue of driving for older Canadians propelled her to completed her doctorate in Rehabilitation Science.

Brenda is the lead investigator of the McMaster-Candrive team, a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)-funded initiative (http://www.candrive.ca/). Her passion for promoting safe and functional mobility across the lifespan is the theme that “drives” her research. The Candrive longitudinal study involves six other Canadian centres as well as a site in Melbourne, Australia. She is also co-principal investigator of another project involving the development of an in-vehicle camera system for tracking the actual driving performance of older drivers, an examination of premature infants and car seat safety (http://www.auto21.ca/) and is co-investigator on the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (http://www.clsa-elcv.ca/). The principles of ageing-in-place and universal design inform her current and future program of research.

Research Specialty

Brenda's area of research is in driver rehabilitation and community mobility across the lifespan as well as technology use and participation in older adulthood.

Fun Fact

Brenda enjoys playing tennis, ultimate Frisbee, golf…(well any sport really) and making the trek to any one of Hamilton’s gorgeous waterfalls (http://www.waterfalls.hamilton.ca/).  She’s also been known to frequent auto shows in Toronto and Detroit to check out the latest automotive designs and gadgets.

Taking Graduate Students


Lab/Research Institute

AUTO21 – Network for the Centres for Excellence.

Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly (Candrive).

Courses Taught

MSc OT, McMaster University

Term 1: Wellness, Health & Occupation, Course Coordinator of Inquiry and Integration
Term 5: Adulthood, Community & Participation: PBT, Course Coordinator
Term 5: Adulthood, Community & Participation, Course Coordinator of Professional Reasoning and Skills

Term 1: Wellness, Health & Occupation: PBL, Course Coordinator and Tutor
Term 4: Youth & Development of Self: Evidence-Based Practice, Guest Facilitator         
Term 5: Adulthood, Community & Participation: PREP, Course Coordinator & Guest Facilitator 
Terms 4-6: Evidence-Based Practice Research Study, Supervisor

Recent Research

Project Title: Innovations in automobile design for an aging population
Investigators: Brenda Vrkljan and Robert Fleisig,
Funding Agency: Canada Foundation for Innovation
Amount: $200,000
Funding Period: 2013-2015

Project Title: Developing capacity in occupational therapy training for evaluating medically-at-risk drivers: Best practices in office-based and on-road assessment.
Investigators: (Co-PIs). Vrkljan, B. H., & Zur, B.
Funding Agency: Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT) Strategic Priorities Research Grant.
Amount: $5,000
Funding Period: 2012-2013

Project Title: Evaluating the on-road performance of older drivers: Innovations to enhance safety.
Investigators: (Co-PIs). Vrkljan, B., Gélinas, I., Mazor, B. (PIs), Marshall, S., & Fleisig, R.
Funding Agency: AUTO21-Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE).
Amount:  $202,976
Funding Period: 2012-2014

Project Title: Driving-related screening, assessment, and referral practices of OTs treating older individuals experiencing mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Investigators: Korner-Bitensky, N. & Rapoport, M. (co-PIs). Vrkljan, B., Gelinas, I. (co-Investigators)
Funding Agency: Edith-Strauss Rehabilitation Research (McGill University)
Amount: $15,000
Funding Period: 2012-2013.

Project Title: CIHR Team in Driving in Older Persons (Candrive II)
Investigators: Marshall, S., Man-Son-Hing, M (Co-PIs), Vrkljan, B. (1 of 23 Co-Investigators)
Funding Agency: Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR)
Amount: $6,786,227
Funding Period: 2008-2013

  • A) Common Cohort Study – Longitudinal Study of Older Drivers (5 years):
    Role: Vrkljan, B., Lead Site Investigator, Hamilton, Ontario  [$321,750. (2008-2013)]
  • B) Advancements in Automotive Design: Development of a Vehicle Rating System
    Role: Vrkljan, B. & Polgar Miller, J. (Co-PIs) [$143,658. (2008-2013)]

Project Title: Evaluating Policies and Procedures in Canada for Determining Fitness-to-Drive and Licensure Recommendations
Investigators: Vrkljan, B. & Myers, A. (Co-PIs), Marshall, S., & Blanchard, R.
Funding Agency: Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF)
Amount: $146,788
Funding Period: 2009-2011.

Project Title: Addition of Canadian data to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAFTS) online web database
Investigators: Myers, A. (PI), Vrkljan, B., & Marshall, S.
Funding Agency: Transport Canada
Amount: $24,668
Funding Period: 2010

Project Title: Innovations in Child safety in vehicles
Investigators: Snowden, A., Altenhof, W., & Vrkljan, B. (Co-PIs), Kobti, Z, Kent, R., Moussa, W., Cretu, E., & Boyd, H. 
Funding Agency: SafetyAuto21-Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE)
Amount: $310,000
Funding Period: 2009-2011

Project Title: Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA)
Investigators: Raina, P., Wolfson, C. Kirkland, S. (Co-PIs), Vrkljan, B. et al. (1 of 160 Co-Investigators and Collaborators)
Funding Agency: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Amount: $23,500,000
Funding Period: 2008-2012.



Recent Publications

Book Chapters
Bradley, L., & Vrkljan, B. H. (2010). Self-care outcomes. In Law, M., & McColl, M. A. (Eds.). Interventions, Effects, and Outcomes in Occupational Therapy: adults and older adults. Thorofare, NJ.: Slack.

Journal Articles
Bondy, M.*, Altenhoff, W., Chen, X., Vrkljan, B.H., Snowdon, A. (2012). Development of a finite element/multi-body model of newborn infant for restraint analysis and design. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. [Epub ahead of publication]

Bédard, M, Weaver B, Man-Son-Hing, M, Classen S and Candrive investigators (including BH Vrkljan listed alphabetically) (2011). The SIMARD screening tool to identify unfit drivers: Are we there now? Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, 2, 133-135.

Forhan, M., Law, M., Vrkljan, B. H., & Taylor, V.H. (2011). Factors associated with the satisfaction of participation in daily activities for adults with class II obesity. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health. [Online Advanced Release]

Forhan, M., Law, M., Vrkljan, B. H., & Taylor, V.H. (2011). Participation profile of adults with class III obesity. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health. 31(3), 135-142.

Vrkljan, B. H. Leuty, V., & Law, M. (2011), Aging-in-Place: Exploring the transactional relationship between habits and health in a community context. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health, 31(3), 151-159.

Vrkljan, B. H., & Anaby, D. (2011).The influence of safety on vehicle purchase decisions An examination of consumer preferences by driver age and gender. Journal of Safety Research. 42(1), 61-65.

Forhan, M., Law, M., Vrkljan, B. H., & Taylor, V.H. (2011). Participation profile of adults with class III obesity. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health. 31(3), 135-142.

Vrkljan, B. H., McGrath, C. & Letts, L. (2011). Office-based screening tools for assessing fitness to drive: A critical appraisal of evidence. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 78(2), 80-86.

Vrkljan, B. H. (2011). Collaborative Learning Among Older Married Couples: An Exploratory Study. Educational Gerontology. 37(2), 117-137.

Vrkljan, B. H. (2010). Facilitating technology use in older adulthood: The Person-Environment Occupation framework revisited. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73(9) 396-404. 

Forhan, M. Law, M. Vrkljan, B. H., & Taylor, V. (2010). Lives on hold: The experience of participation in the occupations of everyday living for adults with obesity Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77(4), 210-218.

Vrkljan, B. H. Cranney, A., Worswick, J., O’Donnell, S., Li, L. C., Gelinas, I., Man-Son-Hing, M., & Marshall, S. (2010). Supporting safe driving with arthritis:  Developing a driving toolkit for clinical practice and consumer use. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 259-267.

Shaw, L.  Polgar, J., Vrkljan, B. H. & Jacobson, J. (2010). Seniors’ Perceptions of vehicle safety risks and needs. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 215-224.

Forhan, M., Vrkljan, B. H., & MacDermid, J. (2010). A systematic review of the quality of psychometric evidence supporting the use of an Obesity-Specific Quality of Life Measure for use with persons who have class III obesity. Obesity Reviews, 11(3), 222-228.