Skip to main content

Nicholas La Delfa

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Health Sciences

My research objective is to reduce the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, through enhancement of our knowledge on human capability, function and performance.

Contact information

Science Building - Room B347
North Oshawa
2000 Simcoe Street North
Oshawa, ON L1G 0C5

905.721.8668 ext. 2139

Research topics

  • human neuromechanics
  • occupational biomechanics
  • proactive ergonomics
  • neuromuscular fatigue and recovery
  • upper extremity strength prediction
  • digital human modelling and work simulation
  • musculoskeletal modelling

Research and Expertise

  • Background

    Nicholas La Delfa, PhD, completed his undergrad and graduate studies at McMaster University, under the supervision of Jim Potvin, PhD, with a focus in occupational biomechanics and proactive ergonomics. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Waterloo, where he trained with Clark Dickerson, PhD, in the areas of clinical and occupational shoulder biomechanics.

    The overall objective of Dr. La Delfa’s research program is to reduce the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), through enhancement of our knowledge on human capability, function and performance. His research interests can be represented by a paradigm that includes three interrelated themes:

    • Generating fundamental knowledge pertaining to human capability and the biological processes/strategies employed by the neuromuscular system in response to work-related challenges.
    • Leveraging our fundamental knowledge on human capacity into enhanced prediction of WMSD risk.
    • Establishing an association between WMSDs and actionable biomechanics limits, though small- and large-scale epidemiological evaluations with industrial partners.

    Dr. La Delfa endeavours to translate his research into advanced methods that proactively assess injury risk, with particular emphasis being placed on integrating his work within digital human modeling and proactive work simulation processes. By doing so, work tasks can be assessed virtually, early in the design phase, well before they ever exist in reality—saving both workers and employers from the financial, physical and emotional burdens of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Publications

    For a comprehensive list of publications, please visit Research Gate or Google Scholar.


    La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. (2017). The ‘Arm Force Field’ method to predict manual arm strength based on only hand location and force direction. Applied Ergonomics, 59 (Pt A): 410-421.

    La Delfa, N.J., Grondin, D.E., Dresser, J., Potvin, J.R, Howarth, S.J. (2016). The biomechanical demands of manual scaling on the shoulders & neck of dental hygienists. Ergonomics, 60(1): 127-137.

    La Delfa, N.J. & Potvin, J.R. (2016) Multi-directional manual arm strength and its relationship with resultant shoulder moment and arm posture. Ergonomics, 59(12): 1625-1636.

    La Delfa, N.J. & Potvin, J.R. (2016). Predicting manual arm strength: A comparison of artificial neural network and regression models for predicting manual arm strength in ergonomics. Journal of Biomechanics, 49: 602-605.

    Hodder, J.N., La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. (2016). Testing the Assumption in Ergonomics Software that Overall Shoulder Strength Can Be Accurately Calculated by Treating Orthopedic Axes as Independent. Journal of Electromyography & Kinesiology, 29: 50-54.

  • Research Collaborators
    • United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) and Dr. Clark Dickerson: Continuing project evaluating task-specific shoulder occupational injury risk assessment approaches for digital human models.
    • City of Toronto: Evaluating manual pill crushing tasks by long term care workers.
    • Dr. Jim Potvin: Development, advancement and integration of the ‘Arm Force Field’ method within digital human modeling software.
    • Ford Motor Company.
  • Courses Taught


    • Ergonomics I: Workplace Injury Risk Assessment (McMaster University)
    • Clinical Biomechanics
    • Occupational Ergonomics


    • Theory and Application of Biomedical Signals

  • Graduate Student Research
    • Master of Health Sciences (MHSc) supervisor for Daniel Abdel-Malek (2017 to 2019).
    • MHSc co-supervisor for Mathew Russel (2017 to 2019) - with Dr. Bernadette Murphy.
  • Grants
    • Centres of Research Expertise: Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) Seed Grant (2017-2018). Assessing upper extremity muscular demands while operating a pill crushing device: Towards best practices. Value: $9,543; Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Archana Kunasegaram & Dr. Clark Dickerson).
    • Centres of Research Expertise: Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) Seed Grant (2014-2015). Improving the prediction of wrist and elbow strength based on distal upper extremity posture. Value: $7,673; Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Dr. Jim Potvin).
  • Education
    • PhD Occupational Biomechanics MCMASTER UNIVERSITY
    • MSc Biomechanics MCMASTER UNIVERSITY
    • BSc Kinesiology (Honours) MCMASTER UNIVERSITY