Danielle Levac Biography

Danielle Levac

Assistant Professor
Bouvé College of Health Sciences

[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Physical Therapy

Virtual Reality


Danielle Levac is a physical therapist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences, with an affiliate position in the Department of Bioengineering, at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. She directs the Rehabilitation Games and Virtual Reality Laboratory, where her research and scholarship focuses on the sustainable, evidence-based integration of virtual reality (VR) and active video games into rehabilitation practice.

Project Description

Immersive virtual reality as a training modality for the development of a growth mindset in socioeconomically-disadvantaged children and youth

The objective of this research is to refine and pilot test an accessible, equitable virtual environment (VE) for growth mindset development in children and youth experiencing significant learning gaps secondary to socioeconomic disadvantage and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. A growth mindset is the belief that personal attributes are malleable rather than fixed. Having a growth mindset enhances psychological well-being and academic resilience, buffering the effects of poverty and stress on achievement. Current interventions for growth mindset development primarily rely on teacher-led practices in classroom or intensive small group settings. In contrast, VEs offer low-cost, individualized learning opportunities in which children can experience scaffolded failure without social repercussions, titrated challenge, real-time feedback, and motivating, repetitive practice. Through this funding, we will refine our VE task and test it with children and youth to collect pilot data supporting a subsequent federal grant application.

Publications – Past 5 years

Levac DE, Huber M, Sternad D.  (2019). Learning and transfer of complex motor skills in virtual reality: a perspective review. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation;16, 16(1):121. doi:10.1186/s12984-019-0587-8 

Rohrbach N, Chicklis E, Levac DE. (2019). What is the impact of user affect on motor learning in virtual environments after stroke? A scoping review. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation;16(1):79. doi: 10.1186/s12984-019-0546-4.  

Ryan JL*, FV Wright, Levac DE(2019). Exploring Physical Therapists’ Use of Motor Learning Strategies in Gait-based Physical Therapy Interventions for Children with Cerebral Palsy. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics:1-14. doi: 10.1080/01942638.2019.1622623.  

Proffitt R, Glegg S, Levac DE, Lange B. (2019). End-user involvement in rehabilitation virtual reality implementation research. Journal of Enabling Technologies: 13(2): 92-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/JET-10-2018-0050  

Ryan JL*, Levac DE, Wright FV. (2019). Inter- and intra-rater reliability of the Motor Learning Strategies Rating Instrument in physiotherapy intervention for children with cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 2019. 61(9): 1061-1066.  

Levac DE & Lu A.S. (2019) Does narrative feedback enhance children’s motor learning in a virtual environment? Journal of Motor Behavior 2019;51(2):199-211. doi:10.1080/00222895.2018.1454398 

Mills R*, Levac DE & Sveistrup H. Mills R*, Levac DE & Sveistrup H. (2018). The Effects of a 5-Day Virtual-Reality Based Exercise Program on Kinematics and Postural Muscle Activity in Youth with Cerebral Palsy. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics; 39(4):388-403  

Levac DE, Miller P, Glegg SMN, Colquhoun H. (2018). How do the perspectives of clinicians with and without virtual reality or active video game experience differ about its use in practice? International Journal of Child Health & Human Development 2018;11(2):249-254  

Levac DE, Glegg SMN. (2018) Barriers, facilitators and interventions to support virtual reality implementation in rehabilitation: A scoping review. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 10(11): 1237-1251 

Levac DE, Dumas H, Meleis W. (2018)  A Tablet-Based Interactive Movement Tool for Pediatric Rehabilitation: Development and Preliminary Usability Evaluation. JMIR: Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology, 5(2):e10307   

Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, O’Brien KK, Colquhoun H, Levac DE, et al. (2018) PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR): checklist and explanation. Annals of Internal Medicine. doi:10.7326/M18-0850  

Levac DE, Pradhan S, Fox E, Espy D & Deutsch J. (2018) Usability of the ‘Kinect-ing with Clinicians’ website: A knowledge translation resource supporting decisions about active video game use in rehabilitation. Games for Health Journal. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2017.0159  

Mills R*, Levac DE & Sveistrup H. (2018) Kinematics and postural muscular activity during continuous oscillating platform movement in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy. Gait & Posture. 018 Aug 8;66:13-20. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.08.002. 

Levac DE, Galvez J*, Driscoll K*, Mercado K*, O’Neil L*.  (2017) OPTIMAL practice conditions enhance the benefits of gradually increasing error opportunities on retention of a stepping sequence task. Human Movement Science, 56(Pt B):129-138. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2017.10.017.  

Levac DE, Glegg S, Colquhoun H, Miller P & Wright V. (2017). Virtual reality and active video game-based practice, learning needs and preferences: A cross-Canada survey of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Games for Health Journal, 6(4): 217-228.  

Levac DE, Sveistrup H, Levin M, McCormack A, Brien M & Mills R*. (2017). Active video gaming home exercise programs for children with cerebral palsy: does a clinic-based virtual reality intervention component offer an additive benefit? A pilot study. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 6(4): 217-228. https://doi.org/10.1089/g4h.2016.0089  

Levac DE, Glegg SMN, Sveistrup H, Colquhoun H, Miller P, Finestone H, Harris J & DePaul V. (2016). Promoting therapists’ use of motor learning strategies within virtual reality-based stroke rehabilitation. PLOS One, 11(12): e0168311. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone  

Levac DE, Glegg SMN, Sveistrup H, Colquhoun H, Miller P, Finestone H, Harris J   & DePaul V. (2016). A knowledge translation intervention to enhance clinical application of a virtual reality system in stroke rehabilitation. BMC Health Services Research, 16:557: DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1807-6  

O’Brien K, Colquhoun H, Levac DE, Baxter L, Tricco A, Straus S, Wickerson L, Nayar A, Moher D, O’Malley L. (2016). Advancing Scoping Study Methodology: A web-based survey and consultation of perceptions on terminology, definitions and methodological steps. BMC Health Services Research,16:305 DOI: 10.1186/s12913-016-1579-z  

Levac DE, Nawrotek* J, Deschenes* E, Giguere* T, Serafin* J, Bilodeau, M, Sveistrup H. (2016). Development and Reliability Evaluation of the Movement Rating Instrument for Virtual Reality Video Game Play. JMIR Serious Games, 4(1):e9 doi:10.2196/games.5528  

Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, O’Brien K, Colquhoun H, Kastner M, Levac DE, Ng C, Sharpe JP, Wilson K, Kenny M, Warren R, Wilson C, Stelfox H, Straus S. (2016). A scoping review on the conduct and reporting of scoping reviews. BMC Medical Research Methodology,16:15 DOI 10.1186/s12874-016-0116-4  

Sheehy, L, Taillon-Hobson A, Sveistrup H, Bilodeau M, Fergusson D, Levac DE, Finestone H. (2016). Does the addition of virtual reality training to a standard program of inpatient rehabilitation improve sitting balance ability and function after stroke? Protocol for a single-blind randomized controlled trial. BMC Neurology, 16:42 doi: 10.1186/s12883-016-0563-x.  

Levac DE, Glegg S, Camden C & Rivard L. (2015). Best practice guidelines for the development, implementation, and evaluation of online knowledge translation resources in rehabilitation. Physical Therapy, 95(4): 648-62.  

Levac DE, Fox E, Espy D, Pradhan S & Deutsch J. (2015). ‘Kinect-ing’ with clinicians: A knowledge translation resource to support decision-making about virtual reality video game use in rehabilitation. Physical Therapy95(4):426-40.