Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Vancouver, where I currently reside. I pursued my undergraduate degree in physiology and completed my Master of Science in Physical Therapy, both at the University of Toronto, which took a total of 6 years. I immediately returned after that to Vancouver, drawn back to the natural beauty that the West Coast offers. After practicing in neurological physiotherapy for 4 years, I decided to pursue a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of British Columbia.
What compelled you to pursue stroke research?
There is a certain satisfaction working with stroke survivors to regain mobility and function, which is why I preferred working in neurological physiotherapy rather than orthopedics. At the end of 2014, my great aunt suffered a devastating stroke. I visited her daily and we worked on getting her sitting up in bed, but this was very hard for her and she wasn’t able to manage anything more than that. Her sister, my grandmother, passed away due to stroke 8 years prior. This really hit me at a personal level. I decided to pursue stroke research so that I might have a greater influence on stroke prevention and recovery.
What is the focus of your research?
My thesis project is focused on recovery of walking after stroke, and whether or not use of a robotic exoskeleton has greater outcomes than standard physiotherapy care. With the advancement of these technologies, it is imperative to determine their efficacy in stroke rehabilitation to ensure our patients receive the best care and have the greatest recovery possible.
At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?
Currently I am wrapping up my first year in the four year PhD program, working through coursework and starting my thesis project. As for the research study, we are in the process of recruiting other sites to this study, and getting our staff trained to use the exoskeletons to provide the intervention. I am hoping to begin recruiting for the project by the end of the summer. My future plans are to eventually pursue a post-doctoral fellowship in biotechnology for rehabilitation.
How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?
I am grateful to be a part of the CPSR National Trainee Association because of the many opportunities available. There are scholarships and subsidies available to encourage involvement in the CPSR and to strengthen research in stroke recovery. I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend the trainee event last November, but hope to participate in the next one. There is much mentorship and expertise in stroke recovery, nationally, to take advantage of!
What other interests do you have?
I enjoy keeping active in my spare time, specifically playing Ultimate Frisbee and volleyball, as well as swimming. I have completed an Olympic triathlon and a 25km trail race, and hope to participate in a few more races.