Author Archives: comm

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Enabling resiliency after an acquired brain injury

New research with community impact conducted through Paul J.J. Martin Early Career Professorship

Five years after its endowment establishment, the March of Dimes Canada Paul J.J. Martin Early Career Professorship has made an important contribution to  improving community integration for individuals with acquired brain injury. Driving this progress has been Dr. Emily Nalder, Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and the inaugural researcher to hold the professorship. From the start, Dr. Nalder’s vision has been to use the best available evidence to optimize service delivery and ultimately ensure that experiencing a brain injury is not a barrier to successful community participation.

In delivery of her research program, Dr. Nalder has worked in collaboration with March of Dimes Canada and their clients, families and partners. She has examined how to optimize the participation of individuals living with brain injury, by understanding and targeting resiliency, breaking down silos in service delivery and through innovations in housing services and supports.

March of Dimes Canada is one of the country’s largest organizations serving and supporting people with disabilities, and recognizes that acquired brain injury is a leading cause of disability worldwide, and that there is an urgent need for community services and supports that would maximise community participation. Their funding of the career professorship supports emerging researchers and provides evidence-based knowledge to better develop best practices in service areas and program priorities.

“We are excited to see the results of Dr. Nalder’s research,” said Dr. Michelle Nelson, Chief Knowledge and Innovation Officer, March of Dimes Canada. “We are committed to continuing our support of this professorship and research that can improve the lives of people affected by a disability and provide opportunities to translate evidence to  practice.”

Dr. Nalder has facilitated educational and training opportunities for staff at March of Dimes Canada and students from the University of Toronto with the aim to contribute to a culture of evidence-based practice, developing research capacity within a national service organization, and supporting professionals working in community services so that they can be change agents and responsive to community needs.

The importance of resiliency

It will require a shift in thinking, but my dream is to see resiliency become an explicit part of rehabilitation.

Dr. Nalder’s work explores how to enable resiliency, that is, the ways in which individuals and communities negotiate life challenges. Resiliency is important to services optimizing participation, as it prepares people to negotiate the challenges they may face in their lives.

“It will require a shift in thinking,” said Dr. Nalder, “but my dream is to see resiliency become an explicit part of rehabilitation.”

Together with March of Dimes Canada, she has developed and begun validating a conceptual model of resiliency specific to the context of living with traumatic brain injury. She has determined that resiliency must involve engaging in meaningful and productive activities, feeling a sense of belonging, making sense of difficult experiences and having hope. The next stage is to examine how service providers foster resiliency, and using arts-based research, to uncover stories of resiliency from individuals with brain injury.

Breaking down silos

Imagine someone living with a brain injury that develops dementia later in life. Will they continue receiving services from the disability organization that may have been providing them with housing and personal care support for many years, or a care facility with specialized knowledge of dementia?

March of Dimes Canada has been a strong advocate for the need to break down silos that exist between aging and disability services and policies. Dr. Nalder and March of Dimes Canada have developed a framework that describes initiatives intended to integrate aging and disability services.

“The framework outlines actions that can be taken in research to facilitate collaboration and exchange of knowledge on disability and aging to address common challenges and in policy and service delivery,” said Dr. Nalder. “These steps address barriers to individuals accessing the right care at the right time.”

A place to live

Housing is recognized as a core building block shaping how individuals live their life. Individuals with traumatic brain are at high risk of homelessness, with two-thirds of vulnerably housed individuals in Canada reporting a lifetime history of brain injury.

Dr. Nalder and her colleagues, in collaboration with March of Dimes Canada − which provides housing services as well as attendant care in supportive housing settings − are examining the critical characteristics of housing and support services for individuals with brain injury. Preliminary findings suggest that housing services extend well beyond provision of a dwelling and include case management, crisis support, and supports for community participation. For example: life skills training, and employment services and opportunities.

Support through technology

Dr. Nalder is also working with researchers in Quebec to develop technological innovations such as smart home or wearable technologies, that can support individuals with brain injury and their caregivers in the home. The goal: harnessing emerging technologies that can be used to support the person and their families to remain living in their home, engaged in activities they need or want to do, for as long as possible.

The March of Dimes Canada, Paul J.J. Martin Early Career Professorship has been a significant investment in research to enhance community services and optimize participation for individuals with brain injury. It is also building capacity in junior scholars like Dr. Nalder, and by supporting over 50 University of Toronto learners who have collaborated with March of Dimes Canada in research, program evaluation or clinical fieldwork placements.

The early career professorship and partnership between the University of Toronto and March of Dimes Canada is unique and an excellent model for bringing community and academic organizations together to address areas of community need.

With Dr. Nalder’s term ending, applications are being sought to fill the second five-year term for the professorship.

“The early career professorship and partnership between the University of Toronto and March of Dimes Canada is unique and an excellent model for bringing community and academic organizations together to address areas of community need”, said Dr. Heather Colquhoun, associate professor and interim chair. “We are excited to see what the next person appointed to this role will bring to this body of research.”

Find out more and how to apply at the University of Toronto Careers Website.

Four MScOT Students Receive 2021 U of T Student Leadership Award

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers.

This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.

 

Photo of Bismah Khalid Photo of Meera Premnazeer Photo of Gobika Sithamparanathan Photo of Marcus Yu
Bismah Khalid Meera Premnazeer Gobika Sithamparanathan Marcus Yu
Bismah, Meera, Gobika and Marcus shared their perspectives on leadership as occupational therapy students.  Click on each photo to read their stories.

Photo of Meera Premnazeer

2021 U of T Student Leadership Award: Meera Premnazeer

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers. This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.
Below, Meera Premnazeer shares thoughts on leadership as an occupational therapy student:


What motivates you to take on leadership roles?

As the eldest daughter of immigrant parents and being an immigrant myself, I found I was automatically placed into the role of a speaker for and on behalf of my family at a young age. Because of this, I was always outspoken but also enjoyed supporting others. I strived for unique roles that would allow me to grow as an individual. Ever since I was young, I ensured I was involved within the community I was part of. I mainly did this by joining various student-run groups. As I grew, I took upon more executive positions and leadership roles. I found I relished speaking in front of people and collaborating with others on various initiatives. This also was one of my motivators for the leadership roles I undertook. Through my experiences, I learned that leadership in general does not mean telling others what to do. Rather, it implies that you listen and take the time to consider the opinion of others and work together by guiding them in a plausible direction. This has and continues to be my approach to leadership.

Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.

To date, the leadership role I am most proud of is my involvement in the cross-departmental Creative Wellness Committee at the University of Toronto. I am currently an executive member who also co-chairs one of the Project Planning subcommittees within this group. I am most proud of this initiative because it is a cross-departmental collaboration that impacts mental health of students in 13 programs across the Faculty of Medicine through arts-based initiatives. Moreover, I was able to assist in leading this project from when it was just an idea to where it is now. It is a project that is three-years long, and I hope to see meaningful change within the student community.

What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?

I’ve always found that, first, it is good to find out what you are most passionate about, and then seek leadership opportunities relating to that area. Moreover, another important aspect of becoming an active leader in something one is passionate about is to ensure that you gain experience related to that particular topic. For instance, it may be good to start off as a volunteer or hold a general role and then progress to hold stronger leadership roles.

Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?

My mother has always been a strong supporter of any initiatives I’ve undertaken. She has always helped me to make decisions and encouraged me to take leadership roles that I’ve been unsure about. If it was not for her support, I may not have taken up half of the opportunities I am in now. My mother always taught me to be there for those who need help and to be selfless. I feel all the values and advice she provided helped me to shape my pathway. Furthermore, for any leader you always need the emotional support and I feel that my friends and family have been there to provide me with that.

How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?

At the time when I was nominated for the award, I was unsure if I would be selected. I knew I had a vast amount of leadership experiences, yet I also knew that there were so many individuals within the Faculty of Medicine and all of University of Toronto who had shown great potential as well. Having received this award has reiterated to me that I am well prepared to function as a leader. I could not have achieved this without the support of my friends and family who always encouraged me to push myself. Overall, I hope many others take to such opportunities within their programs to follow their passion.

March 4, 2021

Photo of Gobika Sithamparanathan

2021 U of T Student Leadership Award: Gobika Sithamparanathan

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers. This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.

Below, Gobika Sithamparanathan shares thoughts on leadership as an occupational therapy student:


What motivates you to take on leadership roles?

Growing up in a war torn- country, my passion for leadership to creatively support folks with finite resources started from an early age and has remained close to my heart ever since. In fact, potential for leadership in healthcare is one of my main motivations to pursue a career in occupational therapy, where I can advocate for this holistic profession with a wide scope of practice. Leadership roles allow me to collaborate with a team, using a strengths-based approach, to incorporate everyone’s personal and professional goals to achieve outcomes that benefit all those involved. I value fostering leadership competencies in others I work with and supporting their growth in leadership roles.

Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.

I value representing the student voice in committees. Students are often on the receiving end of many department/institution wide amendments and it is important that our voices are amplified in decisions that impact our learning experience. Acting as a liaison between the student body and the University’s administration provides me the opportunity to advocate for students’ needs. Over the past year, I was especially grateful for the opportunity to liaise between the Professional Curriculum Committee in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the student body by organizing student feedback to inform amendments on the curriculum due to COVID-19.

What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?

I would suggest starting by creating a vision map (a rough draft is also sufficient). I would also suggest writing down where they want to be in one year, in five years, and in ten years. I would then like to invite folks to reflect on why they want to be there and what skills/experiences would support their path towards that goal. This will help them devise actionable SMART goals towards achieving short term goals that support long-term goals surrounding leadership.

Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?

I am very fortunate to have many role models. I appreciate the opportunity to learn from each and every leader I have worked with because each leader contributes their diverse perspectives, leadership style, and experiences to inform the work I do. I truly value the time my role models have taken to mentor me and support my growth. Many of them took time out of their busy schedules to ensure I was meeting my learning objectives. This is a quality I also practice as an educator, researcher, clinician in training, and I envision carrying onto my practice as an occupational therapist.

How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?

I am truly honored to be nominated and selected as a recipient of this award. My contribution to the U of T community for six years would not have been possible without the support of my peers, faculty, staff, and most definitely my family. I am humbled to have learned from and be mentored by faculty, clinicians, senior students, and teammates, who shaped me into the leader I am proud to be today. I hope to continue contributing to the department, faculty, and university upon graduation through research, teaching, mentorship, and advocacy through advisory committees and task forces.

March 4, 2021

Photo of Marcus Yu

2021 U of T Student Leadership Award: Marcus Yu

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers. This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.
Below, Marcus Yu shares thoughts on leadership as an occupational therapy student:


What motivates you to take on leadership roles?

Growing up, I was relatively quiet. It was not until I started taking on leadership opportunities while volunteering and working with children at summer camps that I developed my confidence and realized the impact that leadership has on personal growth. I am motivated to take on leadership roles for the opportunities not only to develop my own skills, but to share learning with others and work to make a lasting impact.

Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.

Two leadership roles that I am most proud of are being a Student Representative on the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) which was one of my first leadership roles in the OT program, and in my second year, my classmates had the confidence to elect me as their Student Association Co-President. These leadership roles allowed me to play an integral role in many initiatives to improve the student experience and student wellbeing. For instance, I represented the MScOT program at the Vice Dean’s Graduate Student Wellness Grant review meeting to address mental health among graduate students in the Faculty of Medicine at U of T. I was able to collaborate with a team of students and faculty spanning across the Rehabilitation Sciences Sector to receive a $10,000 grant for our proposal aimed at promoting wellbeing through creative arts.

What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?

Step outside of your comfort zone and push yourself to make as many connections as possible. I later called upon many of these connections to support me and help me succeed while in the program. I also recommend finding strategies to strike a healthy work-life balance. Involving yourself in one of the many clubs at U of T is an incredible start for those seeking to become more active leaders. Find a cause that is meaningful to you and find a group or others who support that cause. If that club or committee does not already exist, consider starting your own. Another word of advice is to not spread yourself too thin. The OT program is fast paced, so balancing several commitments can be draining at times; striking that balance is key.

Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?

I have a strong support network made up of current and past professors, work supervisors, mentors, family, and peers who have supported my academic and extracurricular pursuits. This network has provided me with opportunities to reflect on many situations that I encountered while in the OT program and provided me with feedback and insight into how I can grow and develop personally, academically, and professionally. I have built rapport with many faculty members who have taken the time to get to know me outside of the classroom and connected me with individuals and resources that they felt would benefit my development and leadership activities.

How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?

It is an honour to be nominated for this award and be a recipient. I am humbled to receive this award and I am grateful for all my peers and faculty members who have supported, encouraged, and believed in my potential and leadership. Receiving such an incredible award reaffirms the actions and decisions that I have made over the past year-and-a-half and encourages me to continue to be a leader of today and tomorrow.

March 4, 2021

Photo of Bismah Khalid

2021 U of T Student Leadership Award: Bismah Khalid

The University of Toronto Student Leadership Award recognizes graduating students for their exemplary contributions and significant impact at U of T and on the university experience of their peers. This year, four MScOT students (Class of 2021) received this prestigious award: Congratulations to Bismah Khalid, Meera Premnazeer, Gobika Sithamparanathan,  and Marcus Yu.
Below,  Bismah Khalid shares thoughts on leadership as an occupational therapy student:


What motivates you to take on leadership roles?

My family has been my greatest motivation to pursue leadership roles within the university. As immigrants to Canada, my parents gave up many of their own roles, interests, and education to provide my brother and I with valuable opportunities. I feel beyond grateful to be able to attend a university with endless opportunities and support for any endeavor I choose to take. This alone has been the greatest motivation for me to become involved in meaningful initiatives.

However, the path to feeling comfortable in leadership roles has not been the easiest. I have frequently felt imposter syndrome stepping into these roles and never quite felt like I belong in these spaces. But these feelings have only motivated me further to carve out the space that I need to feel confident and best serve my community.

Tell me about the leadership role(s) you are most proud of, and why.

During my undergrad at UTM, I was involved in the early years of establishing UTM Global Brigades – a non-profit organization that strives to end healthcare and economic disparities through community empowerment. In the summer of 2018, I led our annual medical brigade to Honduras with a group of student volunteers from UTM. It was here that I learned about the value of community care and capacity for creating lasting change. This was a pivotal moment for understanding the “why” behind the work I was doing internationally and locally. I am most proud of my contributions to this organization and the impacts we have made in the communities we serve.

What advice or support can you give to students who would like to be active leaders but are unsure how to get started?

My first piece of advice would be to begin by exploring the spaces that you genuinely want to be in. Looking back, the most impactful leadership opportunities were the ones that I felt the most passion for. For example, I grew up in a family of musicians so music has always been an important part of my identity and self-care. At the beginning of the OT program, Robyn Sirkin and I created an open music group called “The Sagittal Bands” (pun intended) for students to come jam out or just listen. It allowed me to re-connect with my musical roots and foster meaningful relationships in the program.

My second piece of advice is to turn to the university for support. It is important to make your voice heard and advocate for the gaps you want to fill. UofT has a multitude of opportunities, financial support, and mentors that can help students make a meaningful change. But these supports will go unused unless you reach out yourself and ask – and if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Do you have any role models who supported and encouraged your leadership capabilities, and if so, what did they do to support you?

In these past two years, I have looked up to many of my peers in the OT program. My cohort has some of the most thoughtful, creative, intelligent, and innovative individuals that I have ever met in my life. I truly have gained momentum and encouragement to pursue university and community initiatives through their courageous and infectious energy.

How did it feel to be nominated for this award, and to be a recipient?

I feel incredibly grateful to be the recipient of this award alongside a few of my peers that I have had the pleasure of working with throughout the program. It gives me a lot of hope and confidence to continue to serve in my community even after graduating from the OT program. This has been an incredible way to conclude my six years at the University of Toronto.

March 4, 2021

Assistant Professor position in OS&OT, Early Career Professorship

TheDepartment of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto, invites applications a three-year Contractually Limited Term Appointment (CLTA) in the area of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy with a specialization in community integration and participation. The appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor. The successful candidate will also hold the March of Dimes Canada Paul J. J. Martin Early Career Professorship for three years and may be renewed for an additional two years following a successful review. The expected start date is July 1, 2021 or shortly thereafter.

The successful candidate must have a PhD in occupational science, occupational therapy, rehabilitation science, or a related field at the time of the appointment and will have completed a post-doctoral fellowship or equivalent (such as a junior scientist role at a university or research institute) for a minimum of one year. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated record of excellence in research, innovative scholarship and teaching. An occupational therapist eligible for registration with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario is preferred.

This position will support a researcher with innovative approaches to community integration and participation related to achieving wellbeing through occupational engagement. We are seeking candidates with programs of research in effective and cost-effective community-based interventions, measurement, epidemiological and policy studies, and technological or systems innovations that focus on community integration and/or participation.

The applicant should have strong collaboration and user engagement skills. March of Dimes Canada serves 70,000 Canadians of all ages through its programs and services each year, and is in an excellent position to facilitate the application and dissemination of scientific evidence to individuals and organizations across Canada.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. The University strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity among its community members. Our values regarding equity and diversity are linked with our unwavering commitment to excellence in the pursuit of our academic mission.

Visit the University of Toronto Careers Website for full details, including links to apply.

Application Deadline: April 15, 2021, 11:59 pm ET

Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream and UTM Academic Coordinator

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, invites applications for a full-time continuing teaching stream appointment in the area of occupational science and occupational therapy at the rank of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream. The successful candidate will be appointed the Academic Coordinator at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. The position will start on July 1, 2021 or shortly thereafter.

The successful candidate must have a PhD in occupational science, occupational therapy, rehabilitation science, or a related field at the time of the appointment; will have a degree in occupational therapy from a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT)-approved educational program; at least three years of experience as an occupational therapy educator, and at least five years of experience as a practising occupational therapist. Eligibility for registration with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario is required.

Candidates must also have teaching expertise in an entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy program. Additionally, candidates must possess proven leadership abilities and a demonstrated commitment to excellent pedagogical practices and teaching-related scholarly activities. Candidates must also convey a demonstrated commitment to, and appreciation of, equity, diversity and inclusion issues impacting student mental health, learning experiences and access to the program. We seek candidates whose teaching interests complement and strengthen our existing departmental strengths.

The successful candidate will work in close collaboration with the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy’s Graduate Coordinator and the Vice-Chair Education, and has UTM-specific responsibilities related to the implementation of the MScOT program and graduate coordination.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. The University strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity among its community members. Our values regarding equity and diversity are linked with our unwavering commitment to excellence in the pursuit of our academic mission.

Visit the University of Toronto Careers Website for full details, including links to apply.

Application Deadline: March 31, 2021, 11:59 pm ET

Welcome New Tenure-Stream Faculty: Rotenberg, Farragher

The Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is delighted to announce the appointments of our newest tenure stream faculty members, Shlomit Rotenberg and Janine Farragher:

Photo of Prof. Shlomit RotenbergShlomit Rotenberg, PhD, MSc, BScOT, Assistant Professor, Tenure Stream.  Dr. Rotenberg received her PhD in 2017 from The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto. Dr. Rotenberg’s scholarship focuses on understanding occupational challenges and enabling participation in meaningful activities of people experiencing cognitive impairments due to aging and/or neurological deficits. Dr. Rotenberg uses both quantitative and qualitative methodologies to examine the nature of occupational limitations experienced by adults and older adults with cognitive impairments and the factors that impact their activity participation. Dr. Rotenberg also focuses on the development and validation of standardized ecologically valid cognitive functional assessments. Using the knowledge gained on facilitators and barriers to participation, Dr Rotenberg has developed and examined meta-cognitive interventions to promote everyday functioning, health and wellbeing of older adults, with a specific interest in older adults with subjective cognitive decline.

Dr. Rotenberg worked as an occupational therapist for 10 years in an inter-disciplinary geriatric clinic and community-based rehabilitation unit, working with adults and older adults with cognitive impairments.

Dr. Rotenberg has taught undergraduate and graduate occupational therapy courses at the Hebrew University and Haifa University in Israel, and has been a guest lecturer and student research project supervisor in the MScOT program in the Department of OS&OT since 2017, and joined the Department in her current position in October 2020.  View Dr. Rotenberg’s faculty web page


Photo of Prof. Janine FarragherJanine Farragher, PhD,  Assistant Professor, Tenure Stream. Dr. Farragher received her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Toronto in 2018, and completed post-doctoral training at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and via the Kidney Research Scientist Core Education and National Training (KRESCENT) Program in Montreal.

Dr. Farragher’s research focuses on holistic approaches to the management of advanced chronic diseases, with a focus on geriatric conditions such as chronic kidney disease. Such approaches include an occupation-focused energy management intervention, a mindfulness practice called mindful “doing”, and a focus on environmental design that promotes mental well-being in care settings. Dr. Farragher is also interested in applying a life course perspective to understand experiences of and responses to chronic conditions.

Dr. Farragher has been involved in the MScOT program in the Dept. of OS&OT since 2017 as a sessional course instructor, student research project supervisor, guest lecturer, teaching assistant, and workshop facilitator, and joined the Department in her new role in January 2021. View Dr. Farragher’s faculty web page 

Two faculty awarded prestigious Canada Research Chairs

Researchers to examine traumatic brain injury for underserved people, pediatric concussions

Two faculty members of the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy will be doing research in expanding understanding of traumatic brain injuries and pediatric concussions, after receiving Canada Research Chairs.

Photo of Prof. Nick Reed

On December 16, the 2020 Canada Research Chairs were announced. Professor Angela Colantonio was awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Traumatic Brain Injury in Underserved Populations. Professor Nick Reed was awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Concussion.

Colantonio is a Professor in the Department of OS&OT and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a Senior Scientist at University Health Network’s Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-KITE.

Reed is an Associate Professor in the Department of OS&OT and the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and an Adjunct Scientist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.

We asked Professors Colantonio and Reed to share with us how their research will impact society and occupational therapy practice.

Professor Colantonio, Why is the area you’re doing research of public importance, and what are you hoping to learn more about through the Canada Research Chair?

Colantonio: My research explores health services for people with traumatic brain injury with a focus on marginalized Canadians who are underserved by the health care system.

We have to address the lack of awareness, understanding and support for people with brain injury, particularly among the most underserved populations. Some of these communities are women who experience intimate partner violence, people who experience housing instability or who interact with the justice system.

My work aims to create more capacity inside and outside the health care system to address the unique needs of  Canadians who have a traumatic brain injury.

I hope to enable greater access to rehabilitation professionals, such as occupational therapists, who can support people experiencing cognitive and other health outcomes resulting from brain injury.

I also plan to address larger societal and environmental conditions that historically lead to discrepancies in health services available to underserved people, for example, by creating educational and training tools for health professionals and other front line workers who interact with members of these communities. My research considers sex and gender, ethnicity, age and other determinants of health that affect provision of and access to services.

What is the goal of your work, Professor Reed?

Reed: The goal of my work is to raise concussion awareness, improve concussion-related health behaviours and optimize care and rehabilitation options for children and youth following a concussion.  The need for concussion support and care has never been higher in Canada.
Concussion, which is a mild traumatic brain injury, isn’t only a sports injury and can happen from many different causes.

As a society, we need to know more about concussion so that we can properly recognize when an injury has taken place and take the right steps towards recovery and positive health outcomes.

My goal over the next five years is to create and share new treatments for concussion, positively change concussion knowledge, attitudes, and health behaviours, and improve social support for children and youth with concussion.

Concussion, which is a mild traumatic brain injury, isn’t only a sports injury and can happen from many different causes. Because of this, I hope to engage a broader population beyond athletes to provide necessary supports to children and youth impacted by concussion.  This research will have a particular emphasis on populations and communities that have largely been left out of concussion research, education and care initiatives to date.

How will your research benefit occupational therapy practice and education?

Colantonio: Occupational therapists are uniquely positioned to advance the health and well-being of people with traumatic brain injury in underserved populations because of their holistic approach to care. They understand the impact of the environment and the wider social context in which people live, and are therefore well equipped to recognize and address barriers.

Occupational therapy and rehabilitation in general have not yet been included in the care of people with traumatic brain injury in underserved populations.

However, occupational therapy and rehabilitation in general have not yet been substantially included in the care of people with traumatic brain injury in underserved populations. This program of research will highlight the important role of occupational therapists and rehabilitation to improve health outcomes and reduce social injustice, and ultimately, advance occupational therapy practice with, and the profession’s contribution to, this area.

My research program embodies the values of the occupational therapy profession and I couldn’t think of a better place to conduct this research. This program will provide extraordinary research and clinical training opportunities and will open the door for new areas of practice for occupational therapy students. I feel extremely fortunate to be advancing our research in this environment.

Reed: This research is fundamentally grounded in occupational therapy by virtue that it aims to enable children and youth with concussion to do the things they need, want and love to do in their lives.

Often after a concussion, a lot of emphasis is put on the symptoms that a child feels or reports (e.g., headaches, nausea, decreased attention etc.). However, we really need to focus on how these symptoms impact function, or what a child can or cannot do in their lives, for instance  go to school, play sports, or spend time with friends or family.

Occupational therapists focus on function, on getting people back to life after injury, and can provide such an important perspective during concussion care and rehabilitation.

Occupational therapy practice will benefit by putting the findings of this research into action, informing new approaches to education and care, and creating a role for occupational therapy when caring for children and youth after a concussion.

“As international leaders in their fields, Professors Angela Colantonio and Nick Reed are committed to enabling meaningful participation and improving the quality lives of people with traumatic brain injury,” states Heather Colquhoun, Interim Chair, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.  “The investment by the Canada Research Chair program will allow them to further advance their work and train the next generation of promising researchers in the field. I am thrilled to have their expertise in our Department and look forward to the contributions they will make to health and well-being in the groups they serve.”


The Canada Research Chair program was created by the Government of Canada in 2000 to help Canadian universities attract and retain world-renowned researchers, develop Canadian research expertise and achieve excellence in training. Tier 1 awards provide researchers $200,000 annually for seven years and Tier 2 awards provide researchers $100,000 for five years.

Authors: Dayna Frydman and Sandra Sokoloff