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Audrey Hicks


My research focuses on exercise rehabilitation in special populations, specifically in the elderly, people with spinal cord injuries and people with multiple sclerosis. By following the basic principles of exercise physiology together with sophisticated training equipment for people with limited mobility, we explore the myriad benefits (both physiological and psychological) of increased physical fitness in people with various neuromuscular impairments. Using techniques such as muscle biopsies, ultrasound imaging, EMG and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) we have the ability to understand the mechanisms underlying exercise-induced improvements in strength or function.  Our research takes place primarily in the Centre for Health Promotion and Rehabilitation at McMaster, a state-of-the-art fitness center with the widest variety of specialized exercise training equipment for people in wheelchairs in the province, including hybrid cycle ergometers and steppers for whole-body exercise, two body-weight support treadmills and a robotic gait orthosis.  Collaborations with Drs. Rathbone and Jiang in the Neurorestorative Group have greatly expanded our potential to translate knowledge gained in the animal laboratory to the human model.


Exercise rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, health benefits, muscle physiology

Featured Publications

  • Hicks, AL and Martin Ginis, KA.  Treadmill training after SCI:  It’s not just about the walking.  Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 45(2):  241-248, 2008.
  • Martin Ginis, KA, Latimer, AE, Buchholz, AC, Bray, SR, Craven, BC, Hayes, KC, Hicks, AL, McColl, MA, Potter, PJ, Smith, K and Wolfe, DL.  Establishing evidence-based guidelines:  Methods for the study of health and activity in people with spinal cord injury (SHAPE-SCI).  Spinal Cord 46(3):  216-221, 2008.
  • Martin Ginis, KA and Hicks, AL. Considerations for the development of a physical activity guide for Canadians with a physical disability.  Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism, 32(Suppl. 2E):  S135-S147, 2007.
  • Adams, MM, Martin Ginis, KA and Hicks AL.  Spinal Cord Injury Spasticity Evaluation Tool (SCI-SET): Development and evaluation.  Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 88(9): 1185-1192, 2007.
  • Ditor DS, Kamath M, MacDonald MJ, Bugaresti J, McCartney N, Hicks AL. Reproducibility of heart rate variability and blood pressure variability in individuals with spinal cord injury. Clinical Autonomic Research 15:  387-393, 2006.
  • Giangregorio, LM, Webber, CE, Phillips, SM, Hicks, AL, Craven, BC, Bugaresti, JM and N. McCartney. Can body weight supported treadmill training increase bone mass and reverse muscle atrophy in individuals with chronic incomplete spinal cord injury?  Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 31:  283-291, 2006.
  • Adams, MM, Ditor, DS, Tarnopolsky, MA, Phillips, SM, McCartney, N, and Hicks, AL.  The effect of body-weight supported treadmill training on muscle morphology in an individual with chronic, motor-complete spinal cord injury: a pilot study.  Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 29(2):167-71, 2006.
  • Latimer, AE, Martin Ginis, KA, Craven, BC and Hicks, AL.  The Physical Activity Recall Assessment for people with spinal cord injury:  Validity.  Med Sci Sports Exerc, 38(2):  208-216, 2006.
  • Giangregorio, LM, Hicks, AL, Webber, CE, Phillips, SM, Craven, BC, Bugaresti, JM and McCartney, N.  Body weight supported treadmill training in acute spinal cord injury: Impact on muscle and bone.  Spinal Cord, 43: 649-657, 2005.
  • Ditor, DS, MacDonald, MJ, Kamath, MV, Bugaresti, J, Adams, MM, McCartney, N, and Hicks, AL. The effects of body-weight supported treadmill training on cardiovascular regulation in individuals with motor-complete SCI. Spinal Cord, 43: 664-673, 2005.
  • Martin Ginis, KA, Latimer, AE, Hicks, AL and Craven, BC.  Development and evaluation of an activity measure for people with spinal cord injury.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 37(7):  1099-1111, 2005.
  • Adams, MM and Hicks, AL. Spasticity after spinal cord injury: A comprehensive overview.  Spinal Cord, 43: 577-586, 2005.
  • Ditor, DS, Kamath, MV, MacDonald, MJ, Bugaresti, J, McCartney, N, and Hicks, AL. The effects of body-weight supported treadmill training on heart rate variability and blood pressure variability in individuals with SCI.  J Appl Physiol, 98: 1519 – 1525, 2005.
  • Hicks, AL, Adams, MM, Martin Ginis, K, Giangrigorio, L, Latimer, A, Phillips, S and McCartney, N.  Long-term BWSTT and subsequent follow-up in persons with chronic SCI:  Effects on functional walking ability and measures of psychological well-being.  Spinal Cord, 43:  291-298, 2005.
  • Martin Ginis, KA and Hicks, AL.  Exercise research issues in the spinal cord injured population.  Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews , 33: 49-53, 2005.

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