One Small Step
A paraplegic undergoes pioneering surgery
When a spinal cord is damaged, location is destiny: the higher the injury, the more severe the effects. Read More..
Chronic Trials: 2015 A Banner Year
A year-end look back at spinal cord injury research: by at least one yardstick, it was a very hopeful year. There were an unprecedented number of clinical trials for individuals with long-term SCI. Read More
SCI & Understanding Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is a word that is used frequently when discussing the nervous system especially in terms of recovery. It stems from the words “neuro” meaning pertaining to the nervous system and “plastic” meaning moldable. It is a term that has been created to note the ability of the nervous system to adapt to change from life experiences to recovery for nervous system injury. Nervous system function is an extremely complex process that is not fully understood. But scientists are attempting to unravel the mystery in hope of finding treatments for restoration and recovery. This is a very simplistic review to understand neuroplasticity as it is a word you will be hearing frequently.
Discovering more about Sex, Women & SCI
Most SCI/sex information after an injury is geared toward men: performance enhancing drugs, male fertility, catheters, penile implants, etc. Women are often told little beyond the fact that they are still able to have children. But we find out there is much, much more.
FES-Rowing can alter cardiac structure and function in SCI:
Gary Wheeler PhD MS Society – Alberta and NWT Division, Adjunct Professor, University of Alberta and Psychologist, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, contributed to a recent study entitled, FES-Rowing can alter cardiac structure and function in SCI: a pilot study, which holds promise for improved physical fitness and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease for persons with spinal cord injury. For many with SCI, being able to exercise with sufficient intensity is problematic. However, FES is changing all that. As a cutting edge exercise therapy for paralyzed limbs, it can offer a high intensity workout. While further studies involving greater numbers of SCI individuals is needed, early results demonstrate that people whoengage in FES-rowing can improve their cardiovascular response to high intensity exercises in a similar manner to non-injured persons.The concurrent improvement in physical fitness may also aid participation in various activities of daily living, with the potential to support greater independence.
For more information, visit
The Society for Neuroscience (SFN) annual meeting recently concluded its gigantic week-long data drop. This meeting is something to behold; Washington D.C., overrun with neurogeeks, hosted the world’s largest gathering of scientists who work on brain and spinal cord research, 30,000 strong from more than 80 countries. They gather to share new, often unpublished data, and to keep up what everybody else is working on in dozens of brain research and disease subcategories.
The Spinal Cord Injury Research Initiative (SCIRI) Group
SCITCS has partnered with three students, who are registered with the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) University of Alberta. Purpose to research areas of benefit to people with SCI and other conditions. We are privileged to introduce Kale, Karl and Sirisha,
Kayle Simpson Karl Narvacan Sirisha Valupadas
Kayle Simpson is a 3rd year undergraduate student in the Mechanical Biomedical Engineering Co-operative program at the University of Alberta. She is particularly interested in the role that Biomedical Engineering plays in assisting individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Kayle is a passionate member and leader of an International Women’s Fraternity on campus, Delta Gamma. Their purpose is to promote community involvement, social responsibility and academic excellence. The organization hosts several large fundraising events each year to raise money and awareness for visual impairment. In addition to this, Kayle is trained as a sighted guide for the visually impaired, and volunteers her time on a weekly basis through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. She also enjoys spending time with residents at the local Strathcona Senior Centre, where she volunteers frequently. Kayle is also a member of the Golden Key International Honors Society.Kayle enjoys music and being physically active. She is a former member of an internationally competitive choir and many competitive sports teams. She now enjoys playing the piano and singing in her spare time, and she is currently training for her first fitness competition.
SCIRI is Kayle’s first experience in undergraduate research. She is eager to dive into such an incredible learning opportunity and to contribute to the advancement of spinal cord injury treatment. She is also excited to pursue similar research initiatives full-time in her future co-operative work terms
Karl Narvacan is a 4th year BSc Honors Neuroscience student in the University of Alberta with deep interest in health care research. He has been working as a summer research student in the last two years with the Alberta Ocular Gene Therapy Team, an interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers within the university. His work focuses on choroideremia, a degenerative retinal disorder causing progressive blindness in men across the world, and how their underlying cardiovascular diseases may adversely affect the efficacy of its potential gene therapy.
He is very excited to be part of SCI Research Initiative (SCIRI) this year and hopes to use his experiences in pursuing the advancement of spinal cord injury research in Alberta!
Sirisha Valupadas is a 3rd year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta. Her major is in the Biological Sciences, with a minor in Political Science. She has pursued research opportunities in a number of different fields including the environment, healthcare and public health; examples of topics include anaerobic digestion, mercury levels in Alberta fish, as well as cardiology and renal function.
In addition to a variety of research interests, Sirisha is a public speech enthusiast. She is currently the Northern Alumni Representative for the Alberta Speech and Debate Association as well as the Director General for the 2015 High School Model United Nations at the University of Alberta, coaching and mentoring after many years of competing herself. She is a Team Leader in Business Development for AIESEC Edmonton, AIESEC being the largest student run international organization, whose job is to facilitate international internship and community development opportunities for students around the world. She is also a National Young Leader with the National Student Network. With a keen interest in internationalism, Sirisha would eventually like to be involved in the sphere of international development and global healthcare. She has also spent 7 years volunteering and working at the University of Alberta Hospital and Stollery Childrens Hospital. Sirisha enjoys music, having been trained in singing, dancing, and classical violin.
She is very excited to be apart of the SCRI, and looks forward to learning and contributing to advancement in spinal cord injury treatment
SCITCS Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Research Laboratory
Vivian K. Mushahwar, PhD Principal Investigator in Spinal Cord Injury and Rehabilitation Engineering
- B.Sc. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA (1986 -1991)
- PhD Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (1992-1996)
- Post-doctoral Fellow in Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (1996 – 1998)
- Post-doctoral Fellow in Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (1998 – 2001)
- Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (2001 – present)
- AHFMR Scholar (2002 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah (2001 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Center for Neuroscience, University of Alberta (2002 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta (2005 – present)
SCITCS wishes to congratulate Dr. Mushahwar, on being the successful applicant for the “Department of Medicine – Translational Research Award“.2015