In Canada over 400,000 people are currently living with the aftereffects of stroke making it the leading cause of disability in adults. Even though two thirds of these individuals suffer from persistent visual impairments, they are largely neglected in motor rehabilitation. This is in part because of a lack of knowledge about the interaction between visual and motor function during movement, and an absence of technology that simultaneously assesses visual and motor function.
In Canada over 400,000 people are currently living with the aftereffects of stroke making it the leading cause of disability in adults. Even though two thirds of these individuals suffer from persistent visual impairments, they are largely neglected in motor rehabilitation. This is in part because of a lack of knowledge about the interaction between visual and motor function during movement, and an absence of technology that simultaneously assesses visual and motor function. While rehabilitation of the limb is an effective tool to relearn motor function after stroke and help individuals improve their quality of life, the lack of integrated visual rehabilitation (such as targeted eye-hand movement training) may hinder people’s recovery. By engaging with clinicians and these individuals, I will unpack the needs of the stroke community and address the lack of understanding of their unique impairments of visuomotor function. This will allow me to address their impairments immediately in my research, and subsequently disseminate my findings back to the community. Several important questions will be addressed in my doctoral thesis through qualitative and quantitative measures. Including, understanding the perceived visuomotor deficits of people living with stroke, current strategies for visuomotor rehabilitation, and tools needed to adequately address visuomotor function in rehabilitation. Combined with neuroscientific experiments of eye-hand function, my goal is to improve the quality of life of those living with stroke.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
Being a public scholar means pursuing research that will benefit the wider community, bridging the gap between research of stroke rehabilitation and the community which it directly impacts. It means acting as a public servant, crossing disciplinary boundaries, diversifying my research, and enhancing my professional development.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
The PSI experience will allow me to generate unique knowledge (through report of unique lived experiences and quantifying real-world deficits), partnership (with individuals of the stroke community; patients and clinicians), and expand existing boundaries (beyond the traditional thesis proposal) all to achieve the very important goal of improving the quality of life of individuals after stroke. Without support of the PSI, I may not have had these experiences otherwise.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
Following completion of my PhD, I will have the skills, training, and connections necessary to inform policy and engage the public in issues of neurorehabilitation. This project provides opportunities to engage with diverse individuals, organizations, and professionals. Knowledge gained will help me engage with national and international partners aiming to improve strategies for stroke rehabilitation.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
Working directly with people living with the effects of a stroke is a critical first step in understanding the impact of visual deficits on an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. Community engagement will allow me to understand the perceived effectiveness of existing strategies for stroke recovery, and help me to create a novel framework for enhanced strategies of neurorehabilitation. In the process, I plan to create a lasting partnership between Survivors Offer Camaraderie In Active Living Support (https://sites.google.com/turtletalk.ca/socials/home), neurorehabilitation clinics in Vancouver, and UBC’s Brain Behaviour Lab (led by Dr. Lara Boyd) to enable future collaboration. This project will advance my research and discovery by providing a means for diverse and integrative work that is heavily focused on community engagement.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
A graduate degree allows me to continue to learn new things every single day, while also working directly with people to help advance the health care system. As a scientist, I answer questions that no one has ever answered before. This allows me to use knowledge gained to contribute to the public good.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
I chose UBC for the location (Beautiful British Columbia!), and access to world-renowned researchers with expertise in vision neuroscience and stroke rehabilitation.
The PSI experience will allow me to generate unique knowledge, partnerships, and expand existing boundaries all to achieve the very important goal of improving the quality of life of individuals after stroke.