School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Professor Vicky Tolfrey PhD

Photo of Professor Vicky Tolfrey

Professor of Applied Disability Sport

Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport

Dr Vicky Tolfrey talks about her research

As Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Dr Vicky Tolfrey discusses about her research focused around wheelchair athletes.

Vicky completed her first degree in Sport Science at Manchester Metropolitan University in 1993 for which she was awarded the Exercise and Sport Science Department prize for best all-round Sport Scientist. Following this, Vicky was appointed as the Project Assistant for the British Wheelchair Racing Association (BWRA) whilst completing a part-time PhD.

In 1999, she completed her PhD entitled 'Pushing economy and wheelchair propulsion technique of wheelchair racers'. After completion of the work with the BWRA, Vicky went on to work with the Great Britain Men's wheelchair basketball team for four years (1998-2002) and then embarked on academic career at the Manchester Metropolitan University (2002-2007) and moved to Loughborough University in 2007.

Vicky is a BASES Re-accredited and has provided applied sport science support to Paralympic athletes since 1994. Vicky attended the Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and London 2012 Paralympic Games and was involved in the Cyprus holding camp for Athens 2004 and the Far East holding camp for Beijing 2008. She led the applied sport science project for the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby Association over-seeing the delivery of a programme of applied support leading to Rio 2016 and also worked with the GB paratriathlon squad. Vicky is now still working with this two sports leading into the Tokyo 2020 Cycle.

In 2005, Vicky received a BASES Award for Good Practice in Applied Sport Science and in 2011 was awarded a BASES Fellowship for her work in Disability Sport and mentorship of others in this area. Vicky served as a member of the International Paralympic Committee Sport Science and Medicine Group 2005-2010. In 2017, Vicky received the prestigious IPC Paralympic Scientific Award and was named one of Loughborough Universities Inspirational Women in Sport. Vicky is editor of one of the few scientific international handbooks on sport physiology and biomechanics in adapted sports ‘Wheelchair Sport’ published by Human Kinetics.

Vicky is the Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport which is based at Loughborough University.

Vicky's research areas include:

  • Disability sport
  • Wheelchair propulsion kinematics
  • Elite sports performance physiology
  • Exercise testing and interpretation
  • Training and performance

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • £87,667 awarded by the EPSRC for a PhD Studentship in partnership with the English Institute of Sport (supported by British Cycling) (2015-2018) with Dr Barry Mason (CI)
  • £108,000 Whelechair Rugby Support leading to Rio 2016 - Research Associate Position (2013-2017)
  • £1,500,000 awarded by the The Peter Harrison Foundation for the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport. (2011-2019). Principle Investigator.
  • £294,447 – A 3-year Coca-Cola Active Healthy Living Grant with a research focus to encourage disabled people to become ‘fit for life, fit for sport and fit for success’. PI Vicky Tolfrey with CI’s Dr Brett Smith and Dr Lettie Bishop (2011).

PHC Team Awards:

  • 2017 Penny Mullen Poster Prize of Multidisciplinary Association for Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (MASCIP), on behalf of the international spinal cord injury exercise guideline team (£150).
  • 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Loughborough University, for the team of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport; a reward to invest in new equipment, attend a conference or other academic activity (£5,000).
  • 2016 Extra Mile Award of School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science, Loughborough University, for the team of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (£500).

Highlighted project

Vicky has been overseeing the post-doctoral work of Dr Jan van der Scheer – his translational work has focused on developing guidelines for people with disabilities and their health care providers to benefit from improved fitness, health and well-being.

Some of this work is international work is highlighted in:

  • Impact

    Recent Invited Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations

    • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2017). The Paralympic Athlete: Common Performance Issues. 43rd Annual Meeting of the Japanese Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Miyazaki, Japan. September.
    • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2017). Exercise performance in the heat - challenges and solutions for Paralympic athletes with a spinal cord injury. Invite Prof. Takeshi Nishiyasu in University of Tsukuba, Japan. International Forum would be "Sport Science for Olympic and Paralympic Games."
    • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2016). Sharing best practice between spinal cord injury rehabilitation specialists and applied sports scientists supporting the Paralympic athlete. 53rd Meeting of the Japanese Association of Rehabilitation Medicine. 9-11th June.
    • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2016). Racing the London Marathon on three wheels. The 33rd London Marathon Conference, RIBA, London, 23rd April.
    • Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2015). Novel Approaches to Exercise Testing Symposium: Testing functional capacity in Paralympic athletes: Considerations according to classification. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s Annual Meeting and Conference (CSEP): Where Science is the New Steel. Hamilton. Canada. 14-17 Oct.
    • Goosey-Tolfrey VL. (2015). The journey to London and beyond: Supporting the Paralympic athlete. 6th International Sports Medicine and Sports Science Conference, Marina Putrajaya, Malaysia, April.
    Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2015). Wheelchair Sport: Pushing from Atlanta to Rio – the Sport Science Journey. 70th Annual Meeting of Japanese Society of Physical Fitness and Sports Medicine. 17-19th Sept. Wakayama. Japan.
  • Review Articles

    1. van der Scheer J.W, Martin Ginis K.A, Goosey-Tolfrey V.L, Hicks A.L, Ditor D, West C.K, Wolfe D.L. (2017). Effects of exercise on fitness and health of adults with spinal cord injury: A systematic review. Neurology. 2017 Jul 21. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004224. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000004224. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 28733344
    2. van der Scheer J.W, Hutchinson, M, Paulson, T.P. Martin Ginis K.A, Goosey-Tolfrey V.L. (2017). Reliability and validity of subjective measures of aerobic intensity in adults with spinal cord injury: a systematic review. PM R, 2017 Aug 31. pii: S1934-1482(17)30254-X. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2017.08.440. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID:28867664
    3. Griggs, K., Price, M.J. and Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2015). Cooling Athletes with a Spinal Cord Injury. Sports Medicine. 45(1), 9-21.
    4. Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L and Leicht, C. (2013). Field based testing of wheelchair athletes. Sports Medicine. 43(2):77-91.
    5. Leicht, C.A., Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. and Bishop, N.C.  (2013). Spinal cord injury: Known and possible influences on the immune response to exercise.  Exercise Immunology Review 19.146-165.
    6. Mason, B., Woude, van der L.H. and Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2013). The ergonomics of wheelchair configuration for optimal performance in the wheelchair court sports. Sports Medicine. 43(1):23-38


    Selected Peer Reviewed

    1. Martin Ginis, K.A., van der Scheer, J.W., Latimer-Cheung, A.E., Barrow, A., Bourne, C., Carruthers, P., Bernardi, M., Ditor, D.S., Gaudet, S., de Groot., S., Hayes, K.C., Hicks., A.L., Leicht, C.A., Lexell, J., Macaluso., S., Manns., P.J., McBride., C.B., Noonan., V., Pomerleau., P., Rimmer., R.H., Shaw, R.B., Smith,. B., Smith, K.M., Steeves., J., Tussler, D., West, C.R., Wolfe, D.L., and Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2017). Evidence-Based Scientific Exercise Guidelines for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury: An Update and a New Guideline. Spinal Cord Oct 25. doi: 10.1038/s41393-017-0017-3. [Epub ahead of print].
    2. Graham-Paulson, T.S., Paulson. T.A.W., Perret, C., Tolfrey, K., Cordery, P., Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2017) Spinal cord injury level influences acute plasma caffeine responses. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Feb;49(2):363-370.
    3. Griggs, K.E., Havenith, G., Paulson T.A., Price, M.J. and Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. (2017). Effects of cooling before and during simulated match play on thermoregulatory responses of athletes with tetraplegia. J Sci Med Sport. 2017 Mar 21. pii: S1440-2440(17)30340-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2017.03.010. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:28389216
    4. West, C., Campbell, I.G., Mason, B., Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L. and Romer, L.M. (2014). Effect of an abdominal binder on measures of field-based fitness in Paralympic wheelchair rugby players. Australian Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2014 Jul;17(4):351-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Jul 21.
    5. West, C., Goosey-Tolfrey, V.L., Campbell, I.G. and Romer, L.M. (2014). Effect of abdominal binding on respiratory mechanics during exercise in athletes with cervical spinal cord injury. Journal of Applied Physiology. Jul; 117(1):36-45.