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Conference Debrief

Journées annuelles de santé publique

Public health professionals, program developers and researchers from Ontario and Quebec gathered in Montreal for the 23rd Annual Public Health Days late this November. As fall prevention strategies become increasingly urgent in Quebec, this year there was specific focus on fall prevention among older adults and the public health response to emerging challenges. The half-day focus aimed to initiate reflection on contextual elements that influence the risk of falls among older adults and also to explore intersectoral collaboration opportunities to support existing strategies and develop new ones.

During an informal roundtable discussion, participants were asked to explore three key questions pertaining to fall prevention intervention within small groups:

  • How do you perceive the issues and challenges presented with regard to fall prevention?
  • Which contextual elements have changed in recent years and how do they impact opportunities for action?
  • How can everyone contribute and support multi-disciplinary partnership and collaboration?

ONF was in attendance at this workshop to share the work being done in Ontario and Canada through the Fall Prevention Community of Practice, Loop. Loop, ONF’s bilingual online knowledge-sharing platform will be instrumental in facilitating knowledge exchange between public health practitioners in both provinces to coordinate our efforts and build on existing initiatives in fall prevention for older adults. ONF looks forward to continuing the work in facilitating multi-disciplinary collaborations in the fall prevention community in Ontario and Quebec.

Provincial ABI Conference

The Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) in collaboration with participating community associations hosted the 2019 Provincial ABI Conference November 6-8 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The theme for this year’s conference was Forging New Pathways – Navigating Challenges – Exploring Breakthroughs. Delegates included ABI rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, legal representatives, social support workers and a range of health care providers.

ABI Program Coordinator, Gazal Kukreja, provided highlights on the development and future of the stakeholder engagement network: Brain Injury Speaks , which was developed in collaboration with OBIA and ONF. To address a systemic gap, Brain Injury Speaks is purposed to connect persons with lived experience across Ontario to a centralized platform and streamline communication between stakeholders.

“Building this network means giving a voice to the brain injury community across the province of Ontario. The network has grown steadily since its launch and we anticipate rapid growth for 2020. Opportunities to present at provincial meetings optimize exposure and allow us to connect with stakeholders across the province. This stakeholder engagement network model has been successful in the SCI community and we look forward to ‘forging new pathways’ as we bring it to scale in the ABI community in Ontario.”

Gazal Kukreja

ACRM Women’s Task Force bring focus to sexual health and pregnancy issues

The annual meeting of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) in October featured a workshop specifically devoted to improving awareness and knowledge of the health issues faced by women with spinal cord injury. Dr.Tara Jeji (Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation Program Director SCI) and Dr. Anne Berndl (Associate Scientist and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto and Staff Physician, Maternal and Fetal Medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre) presented information on the topic on “Pelvic Health, Pregnancy and Parenting with Spinal Cord Injury” to a group of clinicians who treat women with SCI. (See news item on Dr. Berndl’s research in this issue.)

“We focused on building awareness among clinicians of the specific health issues such as bladder and pregnancy management for women living with SCI who are or want to become pregnant. It is really a matter of identifying and encouraging clinicians, particularly primary care doctors and physiatrists, to what resources are already available to assist them in caring for their patients especially who plan to be parents.”

Dr. Tara Jeji

Women’s health topics will be explored at a September 11, 2020 Rehabilitation and community conference to be held in Windsor.

NASCIC focused on building research capacity across continent

In just two short years, the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium (NASCIC) has made significant progress in its efforts to improve research, care, cure and policy by supporting collaborative efforts across the spinal cord injury community. NASCIC has also become recognized for its efforts to bring people with lived experience of spinal cord injury into the research process at all stages, from beginning to end. In this way, the SCI community can provide input on design, along with oversight and participation in clinical trials. The goal is to expand clinical research capacity across the continent and, eventually, around the world.

A three-year grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, one of the largest funders of SCI research initiatives in North America, combined with a significant increase in NASCIC membership, has provided the platform to increase the capacity of people with lived experience in SCI research.

“NASCIC had a very strong voice at the spring US National Institutes of Health: 2020 Decade of Disruption meeting,” says Barry Munro of the Canadian Spinal Research Organization (CSRO), and Treasurer of the NASCIC. “We took part in discussions with researchers, bringing the voice of those living with SCI to the forefront. Our main point? More input from the SCI community is required in all aspects of SCI research.”

NASCIC has also helped develop and promote a platform called SCITRIALS.ORG, which is a trial-finder that helps the SCI community connect to viable clinical trials worldwide.

“We believe that we are on the cusp of a breakthrough in terms of possible solutions to the multiple health issues faced by those living with SCI. Advocating for clinical trials and supporting the recruitment of trial participants are the two critical pieces where NASCIC can and will make a difference.”

Barry Munro

ISCoS – 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting

The 58th annual ISCoS meeting was held early November in Nice, France. The themes for this year included:

• Respiratory Issues,
• Musculoskeletal Complications,
• Autonomic Nervous System,
• Neurological Complications,
• Sexuality and Fertility.

ONF-Praxis supported researchers attended and presented posters at the conference.
KITE – Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Senior Scientist, Dr. Cathy Craven presented two posters:

  • Developing Consensus-Derived Tools for Assessment of Sexual Health Service Delivery Needs for Staff and Patients Following Spinal Cord Injury
  • RIISC Team: Development, evaluation and implementation of rehabilitation interventions to optimize endocrine-metabolic health of individuals living with spinal cord injury in Ontario and Quebec

KITE – Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Affiliate Scientist, Dr. Brian Chan presented two posters:

  • Is it good value for money? Incorporating economic analyses into spinal cord injury research
  • Towards the development of a framework for early economic analyses in spinal cord injury technologies

Canadian Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Association 2019 Conference

In October delegates from across Canada gathered in Niagara for the 8th biennial National SCI Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was Sex, Gender and Health of Women, which has become a very current topic in SCI health conversations. ONF and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute along with community engagement partner, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario were proud sponsors of the conference hosted by the Canadian Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Association. View the conference highlights in this video from KITE UHN!

CORPORATE ANNOUNCEMENT – February 2021(Click to learn more)