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NeuroMatters Spring/Summer 2020

Adapting to a new normal

COVID-19 has certainly impacted our lives in a variety of ways, as we continue to adapt to new norms, our programs have advanced their digital strategies in response to the changes. Recognizing COVID-19 as a main priority for our healthcare and research allies, we have continued our efforts to support the acquired brain and spinal cord injury community as well as furthering our fall prevention activities. Our ABI team has partnered with the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) to issue a survey that looks at the impacts of COVID-19 on the brain injury community in Ontario. The SCI program has also been active in mobilizing knowledge around the virus as it relates to the SCI community. While we have engaged new initiatives to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also furthered existing activities and have produced key resources that will help to inform policy to improve care and reduce the risk of neurotrauma injury.

As we know, fall related injuries are a leading cause of neurotrauma injuries particularly among older adults. In April the Ontario Fall Prevention Collaborative, commissioned by ONF, released two documents to inform policy makers on the fall prevention landscape for older adults. The two environmental scans identify current knowledge about fall prevention screening and assessments tools and falls indicators. You can read more about the environmental scans and the work of the collaborative further in this issue.

The SCI community is among the more vulnerable population when it comes to the corona virus. Understanding the risks and potential impacts, the SCI community quickly mobilized a network of researchers, policy makers, healthcare providers, community members to support the SCI community during the pandemic. The committee, comprised of over 40 members and led by KITE Toronto Rehab Institute Senior Scientist Dr. Cathy Craven, was formed in March 2020 to encourage a collaborative approach. Our SCI Program Director, Dr. Tara Jeji has been involved in a series of podcasts with international partner, International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) to discuss the implications of exiting the lockdown from the SCI perspective. This and other developments and resources are shared within this issue.

Along with our address to the current climate, we have also advanced existing activities including our work to build capacity in SCI health economics. In this issue of NeuroMatters you will find a researcher profile on Dr. Brian Chan and the work he is doing to support health economics. We have also profiled Dr. Matheus Weist our CIHR Health System Impact fellow. Dr. Wiest has been integral in the facilitation of the SCI COVID-19 Committee and the production of the new SCI Everything podcast.

Our ABI team has been quite active and have proudly released new resources that are highlighted further in this newsletter. The release of the new TBI report card is a notable achievement of our ABI Program Director, Judy Gargaro who took up the mantle from Corinne Kagan who initiated the project during her tenure as Senior Program Director. In March Corinne, who in many ways pioneered the ABI program at ONF retired from the Foundation after over 20 years of service. We recognize her contributions that led to many great achievements like the TBI report card.

Reflecting on the last few months I am pleased with the agility of our programs and with the great work they have accomplished. We look forward to working with the Ontario government to improve care and advance fall prevention activities as informed by the needs of the communities.

Kent Bassett-Spiers
CORPORATE ANNOUNCEMENT – February 2021(Click to learn more)