• Zwicker, Jill


    Investigator, BC Children's Hospital
    Associate Professor, Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
    Associate Member, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
    Clinician Scientist, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children 
    Associate Investigator, Kids Brain Health Network

    Degrees / Designations
    BA (Psychology)
    BSc Honours (Occupational Therapy)
    Master of Arts (Educational Psychology: Learning & Development)
    PhD (Rehabilitation Sciences)
    Primary Area of Research
    Brain, Behaviour & Development
    Secondary Area(s) of Research
    604-875-2345 ext. 5948
    Lab Phone
    604-875-2345 ext. 5948
    Janet Rigney
    Assistant Phone
    604-875-2345 ext. 5948
    Mailing Address

    BC Children's Hospital
    Room K3-180
    4480 Oak Street
    Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4

    Affiliate Websites
    Research Areas
    • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD)
    • Brain Development and Motor Outcomes of At-Risk Newborns (premature infants, infants with neonatal encephalopathy or congential heart disease)

    Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) have difficulty learning motor skills and performing activities of daily living, such as using a knife and fork, printing, and riding a bicycle. The cause of DCD is not well understood, but our research has shown that children with DCD use their brain differently and show subtle differences in their brain pathways compared to typically-developing children. Our research program aims to further unravel the brain differences in children with DCD in an effort to better understand the disorder and to inform rehabilitation interventions for these children. 

    Critically ill newborns (such as premature infants or infants with brain injury or heart disease) are at risk for motor impairments in childhood. Our research program aims to better understand the relationship of early brain development and motor outcomes of these at-risk newborns, and how rehabilitation interventions may affect brain and motor outcomes.

    Current Projects

    Developmental Coordination Disorder: Through the DCD Research Clinic at Sunny Hill Health Cenre for Children, we aim to identify and diagnose children with DCD who meet the diagnostic criteria for the disorder and to provide education and resources to children and families with DCD. As part of this clinical service, we will be establishing a database over time of children with DCD from which to answer many important questions about the disorder, including the impact of DCD on children and families, intervention and outcomes for children with DCD, and neuroimaging studies to better understand the neurobiology of the disorder.

    Brain Development and Motor Oucomes of Premature Newborns: We have conducted serial MR scans of premature infants (within weeks of birth and again at term-equivalent age) and collected detailed neonatal  clincial data to characterize early brain development of these babies. We are following this cohort throughout childhood and assessing their motor development at 18 months and 36 months corrected age, 4.5 years and 8 years. Our aim is to determine brain and clinical predictors of motor impairment in children born preterm.

    Selected Publications

    Zwicker, J.G., Harris, S.R., & Klassen, A. (2013). Quality of life domains affected in children with developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review. Child: Care, Health, and Development, 39, 562-80. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2012.01379.x.
    Montgomery, I., & Zwicker, J.G. (2013). Power of partnership: Development of Printing Like a Pro! using the Knowledge to Action framework. Occupational Therapy Now, 15(2), 8-10.

    Zwicker, J.G., Grunau, R.E., Adams, E., Chau, V., Brant, R., Poskitt, K.J., Synnes, A. & Miller, S.P. (2013). Score for Neonatal Acute Physiology-II and neonatal pain predict corticospinal tract development in premature newborns. Pediatric Neurology, 48, 123-129. doi.org/10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2012.10.016

    Zwicker, J.G., Yoon, S.W., Mackay, M., Petrie-Thomas, J., Rogers, M., & Synnes, A. (2012). Perinatal and neonatal predictors of developmental coordination disorder. Archives of Diseases in Children – Fetal and Neonatal Edition, Published Online First: 20 December 2012 doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302268

    Zwicker, J.G., Missiuna, C., Harris, S.R., & Boyd, L.A. (2012). Developmental coordination disorder: A review and update. European Journal of Paediatric Neurology, 16, 573-81 [epub 2012 Jun 15] doi:10.1016/j.ejpn.2012.05.005

    Zwicker, J.G., Harris, S.R., & Klassen, A. (2012). Quality of life domains affected in children with developmental coordination disorder: A systematic review. Child: Care, Health, and Development, [epub ahead of print] doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2012.01379.x

    Zwicker, J.G., Missiuna, C., Harris, S.R., & Boyd, L.A. (2012). Developmental coordination disorder: A pilot diffusion tensor imaging study. Pediatric Neurology, 46, 162-167. doi:10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2011.12.007

    Edwards, J., Berube, M., Erlandson, K., Haug, S., Johnstone, H., Meagher, M., Sarkodee-Adoo, S., & Zwicker, J.G. (2011). Developmental coordination disorder in school-aged children born very preterm and/or with very low birth weight: A systematic review. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32, 678-687. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31822a396a

    Zwicker, J.G., Missiuna, C., Harris, S.R., & Boyd, L.A. (2011). Brain activation associated with motor skill practice in children with developmental coordination disorder: An fMRI study. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 29, 145-152. doi:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2010.12.002. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

    Zwicker, J.G., Missiuna, C., Harris, S.R., & Boyd, L.A. (2010). Brain activation of children with developmental coordination disorder is different than peers. Pediatrics, 126, e678-686. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0169. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

    Zwicker, J.G., Missiuna, C., & Boyd, L.A. (2009). Neural correlates of developmental coordination disorder: A review of hypotheses. Journal of Child Neurology, 24, 1273-1281. doi: 10.1177/0883073809333537. Epub 2009 Aug 17.

    Honours & Awards
    • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar Award - 2014
    • Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Career Development Award - 2014-2018
    • Holland Bloorview Pursuit Award in Childhood Disability - First Prize - 2012
    • American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine Scholarship - 2012
    • Pediatric Academic Societies Young Investigator's Travel Award - 2011-2013
    • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/NeuroDevNet Postdoctoral Award 2011-2013
    • CIHR Institute of Human Development - Child & Youth Health Travel Award - 2011
    • Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Postdoctoral Award 2010-2013
    • Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Senior Graduate Training Award - 2008-2010
    • CIHR Quality of Life Training Program in Rehabilitation Research 2006-2008
    Research Group Members
    • Research Coordinator: Janet Rigney
    • Research Nurse: Sandy Belanger
    • Respiratory Therapist: Mark Chalmers

    Undergraduate Students: 

    • Vivian Kwan
    • Samuel Cato

    Medical Students:

    • Sacha Ludgate
    • Anna Kubow
    • Hanna Edward (Sweden)
    • Anna-Maria Harstad (Sweden)

    Graduate Students:

    • Kim Durlacher - Master of Rehabilitation Science Student
    • Nikol Vlasakova - PhD Research Practicum (Czechoslavakia)