Adam Bleakney's directory photo.

Adam Bleakney

Research Affiliate

Primary Affiliation

Cognition, Lifespan Engagement, Aging, and Resilience


Status Affiliate Faculty

Home Disability Resources and Educational Services




  • Biography

    Adam Bleakney is a research affiliate at the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services. He has served as the head coach of the University of Illinois wheelchair track and road racing team since 2005. In that time his athletes have won 55 medals across four paralympic games while setting 14 world records on the track, and have won the Boston Marathon, London Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and New York City Marathon. In recognition of such performances, he has been named the USOC U.S. Paralympic Coach of the Year on three occasions.

    In 2017, he established the UIUC Human Performance and Mobility Maker Lab, an interdisciplinary lab where students with and without disabilities collaborate to design and develop assistive technology. As director of the HPML, Bleakney is faculty in the School of Art + Design at UIUC.

    He has also consulted with BMW, Toyota, Bridgestone Americas, and several Champaign-based start-ups in advancing racing wheelchair and other accessible technology research and development initiatives.


    • M.S., print journalism, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2002
    • B.A., English literature, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000
  • Honors
    • 2019: Chancellor's Academic Professional Excellence Award
    • 2016: USPOC U.S. Paralympic Coach of the Year
    • 2015: USOPC Doc Counsilman Science Award
    • 2015: USPOC U.S. Paralympic Coach of the Year
    • 2009: Alexis Wernsing Innovation Award
    • 2007: USPOC U.S. Paralympic Coach of the Year
  • Research

    Bleakney conducts research related to assistive technology and devices for individuals with disabilities as well as research related to human performance, specifically for athletes with disabilities.

    At the Beckman Institute, he collaborates with Deana McDonagh, a professor of art and design and the 2022 Beckman Institute Vision and Spirit Award winner, in the research, development, and testing of novel and improved technologies, strategies and techniques to facilitate increased participation in daily activities leading to improved quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

  • 2021

    • Jan, Y. K., Hou, X., He, X., Guo, C., Jain, S., & Bleakney, AW (2021). Using Elastographic Ultrasound to Assess the Effect of Cupping Size of Cupping Therapy on Stiffness of Triceps Muscle. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation, 100(7), 694–699.


    • Cooper RA, Tuakli-Wosnornu YA, Henderson GV, Quinby E, Dicianno BE, Tsang K, Ding D, Cooper R, Crytzer TM, Koontz AM, Rice I, and Bleakney AW (2018). Engineering and technology in wheelchair sport. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am, 29(2): 347-369.


    • Rice I, Dysterheft J, Bleakney AW, and Cooper RA (2016). The influence of glove type on simulated wheelchair propulsion: A pilot study. Int J Sports Med, 37(1): 30-35.