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Home > Professor Jennifer Jelsma

Professor Jennifer Jelsma

Professor Jennifer Jelsma

Job Title:

Physiotherapy Convener for Postgraduate Studies by Dissertation


  • BSc Physio (University of Stellenbosch)
  • MPhil (University of Zimbabwe)
  • PhD (Katholieke University  Leuven)
  • PG Dip Adult Education (UNISA)
  • PG Dip International Research Ethics (UCT)


Prof Jelsma worked as a lecturer at the Universities of Stellenbosch and Zimbabwe before joining UCT in 2001. She is an NRF rated scientist and the co-ordinator of the Post-graduate Degree by dissertation programme of the Division of Health and Rehabilitation. She is a member of the Functioning and Disability Group of the WHO Family of International Classifications Network and has run several courses on the use of the International Classification of Functioning, both nationally and internationally. She is a member of the EuroQol  Foundation, a group dedicated to developing and validating health related quality of life measures and has received a considerable amount of research funding from this group. She served on the Panel to choose Focussed symposia for the 2014 World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress to be held in Singapore.

Teaching areas

Paediatric neurology at undergraduate and Research Methodology and Biostats at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

Research focus areas

Paediatric neurology, Health related quality of life in children, use of the International Classification of Functioning in different contexts, disability epidemiology.

Supervision of Post-graduate degrees

Prof Jelsma has supervised or co-supervised seven doctoral students and sixteen masters students to completion.

Research focus

  • Pediatric neurology
  • Health related quality of life
  • Use of the ICF
  • Adult Neurology



Tel: +27 21 406 6595
Email: Jennifer Jelsma


Selected Publications

Prof.Jelsma has made over 50 presentations, most of which were at international conferences.  She has published over 80 papers in peer reviewed journals.


Publications in the last four years

Benjamin N, Jelsma J: An Innovative Approach to Reducing Pain In Patients with Peripheral Neuropathy Related to HIV:  A Single Case Study. In print – African Journal of Disability 2014

Buchanan H,  Siegfried N,  Jelsma J, Lombard C,  Comparison of an Interactive with a Didactic Educational Intervention for Improving the Evidence-based Practice Knowledge of Occupational Therapists in the Public Health Sector in South Africa: a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2014 Jun 10;15(1):216. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-15-216.

Cobbing S,  Chetty V, Hanass-Hancock J,  Jelsma J, Myezwa H, Nixon SA. Position paper: The essential role of physiotherapists in providing rehabilitation services to people living with HIV in South Africa. SA Journal of Physiotherapy Vol 69 No 1. 2013

Dambi J, Jelsma J: The impact of hospital-based and community based models of cerebral palsy rehabilitation: a quasi-experimental study. BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:301 doi:10.1186/s12887-014-0301-8

Edries N, Jelsma J, Maart S (2013): The impact of a factory-based wellness programme; A randomised control trial. BMC Public Health.  BMC Public Health. 11;13(1):25.

Ferguson G, Jelsma D, Jelsma J, Smits-Engelsman B (2013): The efficacy of two task-orientated interventions for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: Neuromotor Task Training and Nintendo Wii Fit Training. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 34: 2449–2461

Ferguson G, Verhoef-Aertsen W, Rameckers E, Jelsma J, Smit-Engelsman BCM (2014) Physical fitness in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder: Measurement matters” Research in Developmental Disabilities Research in Developmental  Disability. 2014 May;35(5):1087-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2014.01.031. Epub  Feb 26.

Ferguson G, Jelsma J, Versfeld P, Smits-Engelsman BCM, (2014) Underlying mechanisms associated with DCD: one, a few, many? Accepted Current Developmental Disorders Reports DOI 10.1007/s40474-014-0013-7.

Frantz J, Diener I, Jelsma Does the South African Physiotherapy Journal fulfill the needs of its constituency? A retrospective article review. South African Journal of Physiotherapy. 67:3:4-8

Jelsma J, Scott D: Impact of using the ICF framework as an assessment tool for students in paediatric physiotherapy: a preliminary study Physiotherapy 97 (2011) 47–54

Jelsma J, Davids N, Ferguson G The motor development of orphaned children with and without HIV: Pilot exploration of foster care and residential placement BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:11 doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-11

Jelsma J contributor to Chapter 3, General Health Care in The World Report on Disability. WHO and World Bank. WHO 2011, Geneva.

Jelsma J  (2012) The ICF: a decade later.  Editorial SA Journal of Physiotherapy. Vol 68 No 1 2-3

Jelsma J, McKenzie J, Rama L (2012). Differences in subjective construction of Health related Quality of Life (as described by the EQ-5D) for adults and children. Lloyd A (Host): Proceedings of the 28th Scientific Meeting of the EuroQol Group, Oxford, 15-17 September, 2011.  Published by EuroQol Group, Rotterdam,. P113-133

Jelsma J, Burgess T, Henley L (2012): Does the requirement of active consent result in a biased sample in school based studies of children? An empirical study.  Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 7:5:56–62,

Jelsma J, Maart: What additional domains, if any, should be added to the EQ-5D to increase its explanatory power? Proceedings of 24 Plenary Meeting of the EuroQoL Group, Rotterdam, 13-15 August, 2012. P200-201.Published by EuroQoL Group, Rotterdam.

Jelsma J, Ferguson G, Pronk M, Smit-Jelsma D (2013). The effect of the Nintendo Wii Fit on balance control and gross motor function of children with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Developmental Neurorehabilitation,16(1):27-37

Jelsma J, Kachwiza J, Ka-Toni M, Struthers P (2013): The importance of accurate translation:  Newsletter of the WHO-FIC, Volume 11, Number 2, p11. (Not accredited)

Kyriakos U, Jordan S, Jelsma J: Monitoring vital signs using early warning scoring systems: a review of the literature. Journal of Nursing Management, 2011, 19, 311–330.

Kyriakos U, James, M, Jelsma J, Jordan S (2014):  Monitoring vital signs:  development of a modified early warning scoring (mews) system for wards in a developing country.  PLOSOne January 24, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087073

Kyriacos U, Jelsma J, Jordan S (2014) Record Review to Explore the Adequacy of Post-Operative Vital Signs Monitoring Using a Local Modified Early Warning Score (Mews) Chart to Evaluate Outcomes. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87320. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087320

Kyriakos U, Jelsma J, Jordan S: Early warning scoring (EWS) systems for wards in South Africa: a cluster randomised controlled trial. In print PLOS-One

Maart S, Jelsma J (2013): Disability and access to health care –a community based descriptive study. July5 Epub  Disability and Rehabilitation.

Martin W, Jelsma J, Rogers C  (2012) Motor proficiency and dynamic visual acuity in children with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol.76(10):1520-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2012.07.007.

Mckenzie J, Braswell B, Jelsma J, Naidoo N. A case for the use of Q-methodology in disability research: lessons learned from a training workshop. Disability and Rehabilitation, 2011;33(21-22):2134-41

Myezwa H, Buchalla, C, Jelsma J, Stewart A (2011): HIV/AIDS: use of the ICF in Brazil and South Africa – comparative data from four cross-sectional studies. Physiotherapy 97 17–25

Parker R, Jelsma J, Stein D (2014). Pain in people living with HIV/AIDS; a systematic review. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2014, 17:18719 http://www.jiasociety.org/index.php/jias/article/view/18719 | http://dx.doi.org/10.7448/IAS.17.1.18719

Parker R, Jelsma J, Stein D. The development of an intervention to manage pain in amaXhosa women living with HIV/AIDS. In print: SA Journal of Physiotherapy.

Parker R, Jelsma J, Stein D (2014). Response to comment on "Pain in people living with HIV/AIDS: a systematic review (Parker et al. 2014)". Journal of the International AIDS Society 01/2014; 17(1):19234.

Rouillard S, De Weerdt W, De Wit L, Jelsma J Functioning at 6 months post stroke following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. South African Medical Journal 102 (6) 545-548. 2012

Scott D, Jelsma J (2014): The effectiveness of peer taught group sessions of physiotherapy students within the clinical setting: A quasi experimental study. Journal of Peer Learning  7, 105-117. http://ro.uow.edu.au/ajpl/vol7/iss1/9

Unger M,  Jelsma J, Stark, C.(2013) Effect of a trunk-targeted intervention using vibration on posture and gait in children with spastic type cerebral palsy: a randomised control trial. Developmental Neurorehabilitation.  16(2):79-88. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2012.715313.