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This report looks at how programs designed to help vulnerable populations have been trimmed or reworked by various governments. The result is a complicated system of services that can be nearly impossible for those in need to access or maintain – click below to listen


Neuroplasticity & FES Cycling: New evidence suggests recovery in spinal circuits. What does that mean for people living with SCI?

Read Below:

Mushahwar – FES Cycling Webinar (for circulation)

J Neurophysiol 2018 v119pp2194-2211 (FES-cycling for Improving Walking)


We are requesting input on the implementation of a provincial strategy for spinal cord injury through a 7-10 minute survey.

The Alberta Spinal Cord Injury Partner committee, a group of spinal cord injury stakeholders including people with lived experience, community groups, researchers, health care and government, have developed a Spinal Cord Injury Strategy for Alberta with the purpose of improving the quality of life of those living with spinal cord injuries by working together. The Strategy is a roadmap to encourage and support cross-sector collaborations to share expertise and knowledge, leverage funding and resources and create opportunities to work better together. The Strategy is still in draft form but nearly complete and will be publicly launched in the coming months.

We are developing an implementation plan for the Strategy and have created a survey to collect feedback and thoughts on how best to implement the Strategy from of those impacted by spinal cord injury (including people with lived experience, those working in not-for-profits and community groups, academics, healthcare professionals and administrators, government, etc.).

The input we receive is crucial in ensuring the Strategy is properly implemented and best serving those it is meant to support.

The deadline to complete the survey is May 12th.


Thank you for your help and support.

If you have any questions please contact Shannon Wowk (swowk@ualberta.ca), the Research Strategy Coordinator at Campus Alberta Neuroscience.


Partners from community, research and healthcare are co-developing a strategy to improve the quality of life of those living with a spinal cord injury. Fill out this survey and have your say in how the Spinal Cord Injury Strategy for Alberta is implemented https://forms.gle/yH4Gn3Pmr8HdyCdH7


Option 1

Together partners from the community and people with lived experience, researchers and academic institutions, health care professionals and leadership and government advocates and policy-makers are developing provincial strategy to improve the quality of life of those living with spinal cord injuries. This strategy is meant as a roadmap to encourage and support cross-sector collaborations for the sharing of expertise, knowledge and resources. 

These partners would like your feedback on how best to implement this strategy. Please fill out this 7-10 minute survey to provide your thoughts on things like which recommendations to prioritize, current gaps, etc.


Deadline to complete the survey is May 12. 

Option 2 – for organizations that have played an active role and/or are a partner of this strategy

*insert your organization* is pleased to be a partner in the development of the Spinal Cord Injury Strategy for Alberta. This strategy is co-developed by partners from the community and people with lived experience, researchers, health care professionals and government. The purpose of the strategy is to improve the lives of those living with spinal cord injury and will act as a roadmap to support and encourage collaborations across sectors and the sharing of expertise, knowledge and resources.

We would like your feedback on how best to implement this strategy through a short survey. Provide your thoughts on things like which recommendations to prioritize, current gaps, etc.


Deadline to complete the survey is May 12. 


Click&Push Accessibility Inc successfully won the Audience Choice Award at the Praxis Ideation Challenge – SCITCS provided funding for the initial development of the device

Read more here: Click&Push Accessibility Inc

Click&Push Accessibility Inc. was created to commercialize technologies and research from the Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory within the Faculty of
Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. These technologies promote improved accessibility for all.

We are happy to welcome you on our journey to improve universal access for all!

See more here: https://clicknpush.ca/

New Stem Cell Treatment for Paralysis Shows Early Promise

The search for a stem cell treatment has long been the big hope – a kind of “holy grail” –for spinal cord injury research projects. It just makes sense–to medical researchers and neuroscientists as well the rest of us–that stem cell treatments ought to work.

Here’s why: Stem cells have the amazing potential to renew themselves, and to develop into many different types of cells in the body.  So injection of stem cells should logically be able to reverse or repair damage to the spinal cord and restore some feeling and movement after an injury.

However, the “miracle” cures we often read about somehow never pan out.  The research turns out to have major flaws; the “results” don’t last or can’t be duplicated.  Sometimes, the “study” itself is actually a scam to lure hopeful people with spinal cord injuries into undergoing expensive treatments in a foreign country. We don’t usually report such studies on our website or in this newsletter for fear of raising false hopes.

Read More here

My name is Winnie and I work for Saraswathi Vedam, Principal and Professor of Midwifery at the Birth Place lab, University of British Columbia.

We are conducting a nationwide study about people’s experiences of care during Pregnancy and Childbirth in Canada called RESPCCT Study (Research Examining the Stories of Pregnancy and Childbearing in Canada Today.)

What is unique about this study is that a multi-stakeholder team including people with pregnancy and childbearing experiences from different provinces, backgrounds,  identities, circumstances and in different provinces, spent two years working with researchers and healthcare professionals to develop a survey is person-centred and designed through the lens and perspectives from people with lived experiences.

The survey is now available and translated into 7 different languages including French, Inuktitut, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Punjabi, Arabic, Spanish.  We are particularly interested to hear from under-represented and disadvantaged people and communities as their voices are seldom heard.

We are seeking your guidance and support to reach out to people and community you serve via social media network, newsletter, flyers and postcards display etc.

Anyone who is current pregnant or have received care during pregnancy and/ childbearing in Canada in the last 10 years are welcomed to participate.

Follow this link to learn more about the RESPCCT Study and to participate www.respcct.ca

I look forward to hearing from you.  Many thanks for your time.


Winnie Lo MSc (RN, RM-uk)
Community Engagement Coordinator
Birth Place Lab, Faculty of Medicine,
University of British Columbia,
E416 Shaughnessy Building (Mailbox 80)
4500 Oak Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6H 3N1
604 875 2424 ext 5771


Christmas Supports in Alberta

Salvation Army
Edmonton Christmas Food Hamper
People needing food hampers must register through the Edmonton Food Bank by calling 780-425-4190. Registration for hampers ends December 4th.
Edmonton Toy Donations
Individuals or corporations wishing to make toy donations can call 780-424-9222.
Calgary Christmas Assistance Registration
New this year, all clients seeking assistance will go to our website at SalvationArmycalgary.org and sign up online.
Calgary Christmas Food Hampers
Food hampers can be requested through the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank by calling 403-253-2055.
RedDeer Adopt-a-Family
If you are in need of assistance or would like to become a sponsor, please call 403-346-2251 or visit the Red Deer Adopt-A-Family website.
Parkland County
Christmas dinner
Stony Plain United Church will be hosting their annual FREE Christmas dinner on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 at the church located at 5012-51 Avenue, Stony Plain. Dinner will be served at 1:00 p.m. RSVP by December 24, 2019. For more information call 780-963-4843 or email spbc@shaw.ca.
Snow removal support program
Parkland County has a snow removal support program in place that provides funding support to physically challenged residents for snow removal from their private driveways. For more information please visit our snow removal support program page or call Parkland County Parks, Recreation and Culture at 780-968-8888 extension 8311.
Edmonton Christmas Bureau
From donations to fundraising, volunteering to sponsoring a hamper, there are many ways you can support the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton. (780) 421-9627
Walk-In applications will also be accepted by the following agencies (you don’t need to have an association with them):
  • Bissell Centre – 10527 96 St
  • Bethel United Church – 9950 148 Street Tuesday and Thursday 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
  • Boyle Street Community Services – 10006 105 Ave
  • Sage Seniors Association – 15 Sir Winston Churchill Square 780-423-5510
  • WECAN – 248 Riverview Crossing – old Abbotsfield Mall – 780-413-4525
  • Changing Together- 3rd floor – 9538 107 Avenue- 780-421-0174
  • Edmonton Vietnamese, Chinese Seniors Mutual Assistance Society- #6 10650-101 Street
  • Creating Hope Society- 9538 107 Avenue (room #2 basement)- 780-477-7961
  • Frap Settlement Program
  • The Red Road Healing Society- 10045 156 Street- 780-471-3220
  • UBUNTU- Children & Family Boyle Street Community Services- 14023 Victoria Trail
  • Solomon College- #228, 10621 100 Avenue- 780-431-1515
  • Dickensfield Amity House- 9213 146 avenue- 780-478-5022
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Calgary
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a not-for-profit charity that helps economically-vulnerable people with emergency food hampers and assistance meeting basic needs. 403-250-0319
Drayton Valley Santa’s Anonymous
Drayton Valley Santa’s Anonymous makes sure every child has a Christmas. We provide toys as well as a small food hamper to families in need at Christmas!
(780) 234-6065
Red Deer Christmas Bureau Society
The Red Deer Christmas Bureau has been working diligently to help our clients. We need your help so that EVERYONE can enjoy Christmas this year with a full belly and toys to enjoy! 403-347-2210
County of Lamont
780-619-6955 to find out about donations or to book an appointment to get a hamper. countylamontfoodbank@gmail.com
The Kinette Club of St. Albert
Their main service project of the year is our St. Albert Kinette Christmas Hamper which works to source Food and Toy Christmas Hampers in St. Albert, assisting roughly 300 families in need for over 50 years. For More information Email: info@stalbertkinettes.ca or Call:
Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank
The Christmas Hamper Campaign is the primary Christmas assistance program within Fort Saskatchewan. Food and toy hampers are distributed at Christmas to families in need, as well as several children’s homes and shelters. 780-998-4099
Spruce Grove Kinette Club
For the 47th year, the Spruce Grove Kinette volunteers are working to make Christmas brighter for local families struggling with a limited income. Our goal is to support families in need with food and gifts for the holidays and last year, with your help, we assisted 606 families in our area, and supported close to 1900 residents! Please direct any questions to sprucegrovekinettes@gmail.com, or Carolyn Ryan at (780) 960-0550 carolynd.sgkinettes@gmail.com.
Leduc Santa’s Helpers
Every year, your generous donations and support of the charity auction give hope to 100’s of families in Leduc at Christmas time. And this year, we expect more requests than ever. Call 825-995-1008
The Alexandra Centre Society
Every year, the Alexandra Centre Society provides Christmas Hampers to those who are experiencing food insecurity issues within our communities. 403-269-5588 info@alexandracentresociety.org
Calgary Closer to Home Adopt-a-Family
Closer to Home’s annual Adopt-a-Family initiative helps low-income families provide their children with all the joys of Christmas. (403) 543-0550
Medicine Hat & District Food Bank
The Medicine Hat & District Food Bank works collaboratively in the community of Medicine Hat and surrounding area to ensure an adequate and accessible food support system is available to individuals and families in need. This is achieved through support in Emergency Crisis, Security and Sustainability. 403-528-4313
Lethbridge Food Bank
The Lethbridge Food Bank is an important part of a vibrant community to ensure a food security resource for families in need. As a non-profit organization we depend on donations from individuals and businesses like yourself to sustain our clientele.
Lethbridge Interfaith Food Bank
Our assistance includes Monthly Food Hampers, daily food supplements and clothing vouchers.
Grande Prairie Salvation Army
If you need food, please contact us, we are here to help! Please give us a call at 780-532-3720 or you can email: miranda_harris@can.salvationarmy.org
Helping Hands of Grande Prairie
Helping Hands is a group put together to fill needs within our community. These needs are fulfilled by members who are looking to help out their neighbors. helpinghands.grandeprairie@gmail.com
Wood Buffalo Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry Program
The Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry Program is unique and progressive because we directly address geographically isolated low-income communities where residents experience chronic hunger and food insecurity. To register for the Mobile Pantry program, or for more information, please contact mpp@woodbuffalofoodbank.com or 780-743-1125 ext.226.
DIY gifts that look like a million bucks
Here is a collection of some DIY Gifts that won’t cost much to make but still turn out gorgeous! Many of these gifts can be made for around $5 to $20 each (especially if you’re making multiples) instructions, recipes and ideas can be found online by searching goggle.
  • Marble dipped mug: Get a mug and dip it in oil based paint (nail polish works) in a container filled with water for a marbled coffee mug! Use sharpies to personalize it.
  • Mason jar no water snow globes: Use salt as snow and put a small toy glued to the lid of the jar. Seal it with some hot glue.
  • Cookie mix gift:Split cookie mixture between small containers and give individually. Write out the instructions on a piece of nice card stock and personalize the tag.
  • Pantry Accessories: Put together a small pantry pack for a easy but useful gift. Wrap ribbon around some cooking utensils and a tea towel set.
  • Orange Wreath: Make a wreath out of mandarin oranges and plastic wrap. Garnish with a pretty tag for a inexpensive but enjoyable and tasty gift.
  • Dip Mix Ornaments: Fill clear ornaments with spices and give as a gift. You can also use hot chocolate and marshmallows for this gift idea.
  • Essential Oil Bath Salts: Fill a container with Epsom salts and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Layer it in a nice glass container for a pretty display.
  • DIY Tea Towels: Use sharpie markers to draw on white tea towels for a unique design – let dry overnight.
  • Mason Jar Sewing Kit: Use a mason jar and fill it with sewing items. These items can be picked up at the local dollar store.
  • A print in a good frame: Print of a photograph or motivational saying and put it in a nice frame and wrap it up.
  • Lunar calendar: Print a lunar calendar for your friends- there are many links online.
  • Nice stationery, a quality pen, and a few stamps: Make your own personalized letterhead and envelopes, add in a nice pen and some stamps – voila, you have a great gift.
  • A loaf of homemade bread: Everyone loves carbs (even the people who don’t eat them), and almost everyone is impressed by baking, especially when it involves yeast.
  • A nice vase or jar filled with candy: Food, honestly, is never a bad gift. People need to eat, and they’d prefer to eat something delicious. Similarly, home décor is often the last thing on somebody’s mind. So give them a jar or vase full of candy of your choice, and once they’ve scarfed that down, they’ll have a nice receptacle for flowers to go on the dining room table.
  • Bottle of nice olive oil: If you’ve ever watched a show on the Food Network, you know all about using some “good olive oil,” and people who actually follow that advice say that you really can tell the difference.
  • A collection of nice hot chocolate mixes, plus a mug and marshmallows: As apple cider is to fall, hot chocolate is to winter—regular, steaming mugs of that chocolate-y goodness can propel you through the short days and oh-so-long nights of January and February. Grab a few packets of your favorite brand and put them in a festive mug for your recipient’s pleasure.
  • Pancake mix and maple syrup: While the idea of pancakes is almost always appealing, the actual fact of making them usually isn’t. A mix can help expedite and simplify the whole process, allowing for less time measuring flour and more time stuffing your face.
  • A deck of playing cards and a book of rules: Go for a classic deck, or maybe for something themed. Introduce your family or friends to such classic games as whist, bridge, or the many varieties of poker.
  • Slippers with accessories: Fill some slippers with foot lotion, a nail file, some nail polish, and a chocolate treat, wrap with a bow!
  • Ice cream Sundae in a Box: Just add ice cream – prepare a box of all the goodies that you would like to eat on an ice cream sundae.
  • Gift Baskets: Create a gift basket with a theme – spaghetti night for two, movie night with popcorn, home spa, or a wine with glasses in a creative basket. Wrap with clear plastic and a bow!
VAD Holiday Hours
Voice of Albertans with Disabilities will be closed for the following dates:
  • December 24
  • December 25
  • December 28
  • December 29
  • December 30
  • December 31
  • January 1, 2021
Please leave a voice message at 780-488-9088 on the general mailbox if you require our services during this time and someone will call you back at the earliest convenience. Regular service hours resume January 4, 2021.


Great Organizations Featured at Virtual Experience

And now for the stars of the Abilities Virtual Experience…the companies whose virtual booths will be chalk-full of products, services and resources to catapult your independence! See product demos, chat directly with knowledgeable reps, watch videos, download brochure and so much more.

Read more here


We are currently recruiting 15-24 members for a project sponsored by Neuralink and NASCIC. We are reaching out to you to see if you are interested in participating in 1 or 3 focus groups. Two of the Focus Groups will consist of people living with tetraplegia. One focus group will consist of caregivers and/or close family members of a person living with tetraplegia. This is not recruitment for a clinical trial. This is recruitment of 15 members to serve as advisors to the development team.


Richard B. Stein – A Life Well Lived

Remembering our husband and father


Dr. Richard (Dick) B. Stein. Dick is remembered by friends, family and colleagues as a decent man who treated everyone with respect, fairness and kindness. He attended MIT and Oxford University both on full scholarship. In 1968 he moved to Edmonton with his wife Sue and young children Ellie and Eric. Once there, Dick helped build the department of physiology at the University of Alberta. He was a professor at U of A for 50 years before retiring in June 2018. Papers from his final projects on Parkinson ’s Disease are still winding their way to publication.

Dick was proud of his mentorship of generations of neuroscientists. Dick had the vison that multidisciplinary research was needed to answer difficult questions. He co-founded the Neuroscience group now the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at the University of Alberta which supports over 150 researchers. His research and inventions have helped thousands with neurologic and mobility challenges.  Dick was also proud of his family. Losing his own parents at age 16, he threw himself into parenting doing fun activities every weekend. As well, he enjoyed ballroom dancing with Sue and wildflower photography. He jogged, rode or walked to work almost every day of his career. He enjoyed cross country skiing and introduced it to many of the foreign students working with him. Dick and Sue travelled to almost 100 countries and Dick said recently that they had had a good and interesting life together.

During the past several years Dick has been increasingly limited by Parkinson’s Disease and associated conditions. As a resident of the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre during the past 2 years, he has received love and care from the staff on 5AB. They have become our extended family and we thank them for their kindness and devotion. During COVID they have gone over and above risking their own safety to keep our family connected.

An amazing group of former students worked as a team to support Dick and the family over the past 2 ½ years. They enabled Dick to keep walking including outside walks to see the river valley and brought him homemade gluten free cookies. They helped Sue and Dick create a ballroom dance routine which was presented at the Edmonton General in March 2019. You can watch this inspiring performance at


The ”Dream Team” as we call them have supported our family until Dick’s last day and beyond.  Thank you to Dirk Everaert, Su Ling Chong, Jaynie Yang, Jacques Bobet and Kelvin Jones.  When the COVID pandemic led to a facility lockdown, Dick was isolated from friends and family for 3 months. We wondered if he would survive. But he did survive, never complaining. He relished his phone as a connection to the outside world.

The lockdown lifted on July 23rd and we had three months together taking Dick outside for visits. When COVID hit the EGCCC, Dick became ill within days and tested positive for COVID. He fought for several days longer than expected but succumbed on Tuesday November 3rd.  We look forward to having a ceremony to celebrate his life sometime in the future. If you would like to share some of your memories of Dick with his family please email:

Ellie at cdnpsych@gmail.com

Thinking of others until the end, Dick’s wish in recent years was to create a fund to support future neuroscientists. Donations may be made to the “University of Alberta” noting your donation is made in memory of Dr. Richard Stein to support the Richard B Stein Neuroscience Graduate Student Fund.

Mail: Office of Memorial and Tribute Giving | 3-501, 10230 Jasper Ave NW | Edmonton AB T5J 4P6

Phone: 780.492.7587

Online: http://uabgive.ca/RStein

Richard B Stein Neuroscience Graduate Student Fund


This fund will be awarded to students registered in any year of the PhD program in the Department of Physiology or the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. Preference will be given to students doing research in the area of neuroscience.

A Quadriplegic, a Specialty Van and a Lifetime of Adventures

A biking accident left Kirk Williams paralyzed, but he has traveled widely and inspired others to follow in his tire tracks.Kirk Williams loved racing mountain bikes and “enjoyed playing on anything that had a motor,” he said.  Katie Renker, a photographer and musician, chained herself to big pink boats in climate protests and sang songs with refugee choirs.  Mr. Williams graduated in 2009 with a degree in sociology from the University of Colorado in Boulder, “although after spending a semester abroad in Ghana, Africa, I knew my career path was headed towards travel, photography and storytelling,” he said.

Read more here


Researchers discover new path to neuron regeneration after spinal cord injury

Dynamic networks that specialize in the transmission of information generally consist of multiple components, including not only primary processors, like computers, for example, but also numerous support applications and services. The human nervous system is fundamentally very similar—neurons, like computers, process and transmit information, sending molecular signals through axons to other neurons, all of which are supported by non-neuronal components, including an array of cells known as glia.

Read more Here



Busting myths about ageing with a spinal cord injury

Whether you have lived with a spinal cord injury for a long time or were injured later in life, getting older with a spinal cord injury may worry you. You might be concerned about your independence, or your loved ones. That’s why we spoke with Joy Sinclair, a specialist in ageing with a spinal cord injury, to bust some of the common myths surrounding this topic.

Read more here:


Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.

Dear All,

I would like to address recent concerns regarding the AISH program.  During my time as Minister, I have had the opportunity to speak directly with many AISH clients.  I know and understand how important this program is for vulnerable Albertans.  In fact, the AISH program continues to reliably support our clients and I can assure you, there have been no changes to program eligibility, benefits, or program funding.  In terms of funding, it is important to remember that in the most recent Budget,  AISH funding actually went up by 6.2% compared to the previous year forecast, and at $1.29 billion we currently have the highest budget for AISH in Alberta’s history.

However, what is also true is that caseload and cost pressures do present a challenge for program sustainability.  As of July 2020, the total AISH caseload was 69,785 clients, and the AISH caseload growth rate is roughly three times the growth rate of Alberta’s population.

I have always been transparent in stating that all of our programs are continuously under review. We review every aspect of our ministry because we need to ensure that supports continue to be available to those who need them the most, now and into the future. My commitment to Albertans, on behalf of myself, my government colleagues and the Premier, is that any decisions made will be centered on providing compassionate support for the most vulnerable while protecting the long term viability of our vital programs.

Kind regards,



Elon Musk shows Neuralink brain implant working in a pig

With a device surgically implanted into the skull of a pig named Gertrude, Elon Musk demonstrated his startup Neuralink’s technology to build a digital link between brains and computers. A wireless link from the Neuralink computing device showed the pig’s brain activity as it snuffled around a pen on stage Friday night.  The demonstration shows the technology to be significantly closer to delivering on Musk’s radical ambitions than during a 2019 product debut, when Neuralink only showed photos of a rat with a Neuralink connected via a USB-C port. It’s still far from reality, but Musk said the US Food and Drug Administration in July granted approval for “breakthrough device” testing.


Read More here



Alberta Wheel Girls: Support group helps connect women in wheelchairs


It’s just past 11 a.m. and 15 women with spinal-cord injuries settle in front of their computers.

They meet online each week as part of an all-female wheelchair support group.

“Do you guys ever find that people treat you like a child?” Bean Gill asks.

“I’ve been patted on the head,” Margaret Conquest responds.

A chorus of understanding groans follows.

“That’s a no from me,” says Danielle Drouin, a 22 year old from Lethbridge who was paralyzed after a car crash almost two years ago.

“I’ve had somebody call my wheelchair a stroller,” says Gill.

The Alberta Wheel Girls group started in April in an effort to create a community of women who could talk openly about their experiences living with wheelchairs.

Conquest is well-known for her advice. A quadriplegic, she has been in a wheelchair since 1991, the longest of anyone in the group. She injured her back in high school when she tried a backflip off a box horse.

Continue reading this article on the CBC News Website

CBC Radio Active link


United Spinal

As the economy reopens, we’re focused on educating businesses on how COVID-related changes can affect accessibility. This 3-min survey will help document the lived experiences of PWDs, so we can better serve our members & their communities.

Click for Survey here


Praxis Spinal Cord Institute (@praxis_sci) Tweeted:
We’re honoured to be invited by @TCS_SDC as a keynote at the Canadian Rehab & Assistive Device Virtual Roadshow. Also participating is Rehabtronics from our SCI Accelerate cohort & @trexorobotics, winner of the Innovate SCI+Neurotech Pitch with @OntarioBrain. #CanadaChinaRehab

Canadians with disabilities face barriers to financial security, researchers find

When University of Alberta sociologist Michelle Maroto came across a Toronto Star article about an Ontario woman struggling to make ends meet while battling Type 1 diabetes, she knew the story was just the tip of the iceberg.

Anna Costa was juggling four low-paying jobs without benefits, and after paying more than $300 per month for insulin and blood tests in addition to rent and groceries, she had little left for savings.  Costa was grateful for the Ontario Works benefits she received from the provincial government.

But as with so many living with disabilities across Canada, argues Maroto, provincial and federal assistance programs fall short of compensating them for their financial disadvantage

Read more here


Go-2 Spinal Stimulator Helps Return Leg Function: Interview with Jan Öhrström, Chairman of the Board, GTX Medical

GTX Medical, a medtech company with offices in The Netherlands and Switzerland, has announced that it received Breakthrough Device Designation for the Go-2 system, an implant that provides targeted epidural spinal stimulation therapy for patients with spinal cord injuries. The device aims to allow such patients to regain leg motor function and neurological control.

Read More


Robot devices give patients a chance to walk again: Inside China’s Startups


For the paralyzed, standing on their own feet to walk again seems like a far-off dream, with many injuries involving the nervous system being permanent. However, recent updates in innovative robotics technologies can help make this dream a reality.

Yao Fang, a Chinese wheelchair fencing gold medalist in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, regained partial mobility with the help of a wearable robot designed and manufactured by Shanghai Fourier Intelligence. Born in 1972, Yao was badly injured in a car accident in 1998 when she was 26, forcing her to accept life in a wheelchair before the arrival of this specialized robot more than 20 years later.

Read More



Fighting COVID Loneliness from a Wheelchair


A world pandemic may have cramped your style – keeping you from your usual activities and seeing co-workers and friends. But since paralysis brings greater health risks in general, people with spinal cord injuries already understand the need for distancing to avoid infection.

The new challenge of Coronavirus for people living with SCI is to keep our social distancing from turning into social isolation.  In short, we need to find ways to ward off loneliness.

How do you prevent yourself from sliding into a state of social disconnectedness?


Read more here



 (@SPINALpedia) Tweeted: RT @SCI_Illinois: Recent findings show sense of touch can be returned to those with spinal cord injury. Participate in events and SCI trials or read SCIA news at

https://t.co/HQaFafvCL9. https://t.co/19pZNH94Qp


United Spinal (@UnitedSpinal) Tweeted: McGill University @mcgillu is looking for volunteers for a study to assess quality of life for SCI.

If you are someone with SCI, caregiver, health care professional, decision maker or researcher having experience with SCI, consider completing the survey:


Promising gene therapy repairs spinal cord injury in

An international team of researchers has successfully regenerated spinal tissue in rat models using a new gene therapy designed to break down scar tissue and allow new nerve cells to grow. The therapy, which used a common antibiotic as the on/off switch to activate the treatment for two months, resulted in rats with spinal injuries relearning complex hand movements.


Spinal Cord Injury, Urogenital Health and Pregnancy (SCI-UP) Survey

Dr. Berndl is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist who focuses on pregnancy and physical disability. She has created this survey to address the lack of knowledge about reproductive health and pregnancy in women with SCI, which may affect the care they receive or the healthcare choices they make.

Please take here the survey here 

Read more here – Information Sheet


30 years for Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society


The Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society is celebrating three decades of research, technology and support.
When Amy Mercer was three-years-old, she was in a collision that left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Two years later, she walked with functional electrical stimulation (FES) using technology brought to Edmonton by the society.
“My parents’ goals were always to be as independent as possible,” Mercer said. “They thought this could be something that could get me there.”

At school, they incorporated Mercer into everything. She stood or walked from class to class with help from the FES technology. Mercer participated in the program until she was about 10, when scoliosis forced her to stop. “Because I was injured so young, I don’t know any different,” she said.

She added it has opened her eyes and the eyes of her family members to compassion and awareness of people’s needs. Now she calls St. Paul home.

Following the collision, she was at the University of Alberta Hospital and then the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. She works for the provincial government and is passionate about photography and crafting.

Louise Miller, co-founder and president, is a registered nurse and says “everything has changed” since the organization’s founding. The society has no building and no staff — its entirely volunteer-run. The focus has been on research, FES and other technologies. They brought the first ReWalk exoskeleton to Canada in 2014 and eight people have been trained to stand up and walk using the equipment. “If we hear about anything new, we get it to Edmonton,” Miller said.

The society is funded by casinos every two years and by Craig Simpson, who has hosted the Never Say Never golf tournament for 29 years. When Simpson won the Battle of the Blades with Jamie Salé in 2009, he donated the $100,000 winnings to the organization. The society has also brought RT300s, which has allowed people with stroke, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries to ride a bike. “They’re now getting into the community where the equipment can be inclusive,” Miller said. “It’s in the Saville (Community Sports Centre) and the Y downtown.” One of the biggest challenges is in convincing the community at large to accept new technologies, despite the eagerness of patients to try new things. Psychological benefits can be as big as the physical benefits.


Louise Miller receives her medal from then Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell during the Alberta Order of Excellence investiture ceremony at Government House in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. Looking people in the eye when clients first stand up is the biggest thing, Miller said. “It has profound impact, that first standing up and looking people in the eye,” she said. “It’s terribly important.”



This ground-breaking Spinal Cord Injury Treatment is centered around the Epidural Stimulation device. The surgically implanted device sits over the spinal cord protective coating and is connected to the nerve systems where it is able to stimulate locomotor-like activity. Once implanted, the patient learns how to control the device and the resulting limb movements.

Epidural Stimulation can be offered to patients with both incomplete and complete injuries. A combination of the Epidural Stimulation implant with modern Regenerative Therapy undeniably creates the most powerful
treatment package for Spinal Cord Injury survivors.

Our patients have experienced significant improvements with their bodily functions after the Epidural Stimulation surgery. Depending on the location of the injury, these milestones may include the ability to stand, take steps with minimal assistance, improved bowel and bladder control, stabilised blood pressure, muscle mass growth and many more.  Read more here



October 2019

Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society (SCITCS): Enhancing the Lives of People with Spinal Cord Injury, for over 30 years, SCITCS has created opportunities for people with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and others.

SCITCS is managed by a volunteer board and sustained by a dedicated group of volunteers who are committed to improving the quality of life of people with a SCI.  Their motto, Never Say… “Never”, remains the driving force behind their organization. Over the decades, SCITCS has supported newly injured SCI patients and  their families in numerous ways. They host a monthly pizza night on Unit 3B at the Glenrose, served by their board members and volunteers, and provide newly
injured patients with their best-selling book Daring To Live, a SCITCS Never Say…”Never” T-shirt, and a reacher.

A SCITCS board member visits SCI patients on a weekly basis to provide support and education. These meaningful connections have assisted patients and  their families through their rehabilitation journey. Established in April 1987, SCITCS has been promoting and supporting applied research; they were fundamental  in bringing state-of-the-art technology such as the ReWalk and Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) devices to Northern Alberta. FES applies small electrical pulses to paralyzed muscles to restore or improve their function and is commonly used for exercise, but also to assist with breathing, grasping, transferring, standing and walking. SCITCS continues to provide FES bikes and equipment to hospitals and community fitness centres to improve access to this technology; they also strive to ensure that patients have access to the electrodes required to use the technology. SCITCS is a strong proponent of continuing education, and over the years they have sponsored various educational opportunities for patients, families, and clinicians all in the effort to enhance the quality of life for people with SCI.

We wish to extend SCITCS our gratitude for their everlasting passion and commitment to research, education, and support for those living with SCI.



Does your business achieves the barrier free code?

Book an accessibility assessment with VAD and identify opportunities to improve inclusion within your business. Who should get an assessment: Any business open to the public. What is an assessment: An audit of your property that evaluates all areas of accessibility.

Why get an assessment done: The assessment highlights areas that are currently accessible, outlines areas of opportunity and offers best practice recommendations. How do I get an assessment: Contact Sam, 780-488-9088 or e-mail accessibility@vadsociety.ca.



SCITCS Board of Directors 2019 -2020 missing Joel and Sydney



James will continue to use FES cycling on a SCITCS donated FES bike at the Saville Fitness Centre on his discharge from the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. SCITCS will cover the cost of the membership and electrodes for a year.

“My goal is to eat dinner without help on Christmas Eve,” James shared today. Thanks to the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society James is getting state of the art treatment on the Xcite machine, the only one in Edmonton.
This device is used to coordinate muscle contractions in the body and are used by both physical and occupational therapy programs at the hospital. With this device patients are able to work on developing strength and movement to complete tasks such as brushing their teeth, or in James’ case, eating on his own.  We are so grateful for SCITCS support in making this possible!



SCITCS + an FES bike + Hard Work = success.

May name is Maria Hopf.  On June 25, 2018 my world was turned upside down because I fell and broke my back.  And I became paralyzed from the chest down.  On June 26, 2018 I had my 4 back surgery because of this fall.  I was told that I would never walk again and then if I do have any movement in my legs it would not be for about 3 years.

Well of course I was crushed but I did not let that stop be.  I spent 3 weeks at the U of A and then I was transferred to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital where I spent 4 months of physical therapy.  While I was at the Glenrose I was introduced to the FES bike. This bike was amazing the attached electrodes to my Gluts, Quads and Hamstrings and with the stimulation and motor assisted I was able to peddle the bike.  When I was released from the Glenrose I was told that the Don Wheaton YMCA has a FES bike that was generously donated by SCITCS and they will also pay for me a one year membership, and electrodes.  I took advantage of this and I have  had remarkable progress.

I have been using the FES at the Don Wheaton YMCA for the past year. I have made such good progress that the YMCA found the need to reassess me. They brought in a Physiotherapist and I was reassessed on Saturday November 16, 2019  and they said that I no longer need to have the stimulation on my quads and hamstrings because I am strong enough, which means I am now pedalling the bike on my own. So now I am getting the Stim on my calves, gluts and abs. The Stimulation is now to help me walk on my own.  I am walking with braces and a walker and I would not be able to do this if it was not for my hard work and the FES bike at the YMCA.

I am looking forward to see what happens in the next year.



Here is the SCITSC Place Mat!!

Guest Checklist for Accessible Hotel Accommodations

It’s important to call the hotel to confirm acccessibility before making the reservation. Calling the hotel directly will give you the chance to confirm what you’ve read online and to gather more information. Ask questions and raise any concerns you may have about their accessible features.

Not everyone with a disability has the same requirements. We all have different abilities and something one person considers a vital accessible feature might not be vital to someone else. This also applies to the meaning of “accessible” and what hotels interpret as accessible. Before you call the hotel review this checklist and use the questions that pertain to your needs. If a question is not there, the section titled ‘OTHER’ at the end of the list is available for you to write your specific questions in.

If you are using an online site that offer discounts on accommodations, be aware that the person you are talking to is not employed by your hotel. In these cases,it is advisable to contact that specific hotel directly to ask your accessibility questions. This will ensure you are able to have your specific concerns addressed.

Here is a helpful Final reservation checklist

Options for climbing stairs with a wheelchair:



The Barrier-Free Council of the Safety Codes Council, in partnership with Alberta Municipal Affairs has
developed the Barrier-Free Design Guide to provide further interpretation and understanding of accessibility
requirements under section 3.8. of the Alberta Building Code.  The Guide also makes recommendations for best
practice design solutions including residential living.

Free Download of the guide here: Barrier – Free Design Guide

Congratulations to Dr. Chester Ho (second from the R) on receiving a prestigious Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant.

Dr Ho will collaborate with other researchers across Canada to develop a Transitions in Care model of health care delivery for people with a spinal cord injury in Alberta and elsewhere.

I was in attendance and had the opportunity to have my photo taken with the Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor and the Minister of Natural Resources, Amerjeet Sohi.



Dear friends and supporters of SCI Alberta:


On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am excited to announce that the Board has confirmed the appointment of Olle Lagerquist as the new CEO for Spinal Cord Injury Alberta commencing August 19th.

Olle was most recently the Associate Dean of Industry engagement at NAIT. He Brings skills and experience related to strategic planning and operations, private and public fund development, government and industry liaison, change management,communications, and research. Olle also brings great passion for the field of spinal cord injury.

His academic background includes:

MBA Technology Commercialization – U of A
PhD  Neuroscience – U of A
MSc Neuroscience – U of A
BSc Kinesiology – U of Victoria

I know you all join me in welcoming Olle to Spinal Cord Injury Alberta. I will be assisting Olle with his onboarding during his first two weeks and then relinquishing my duties as senior staff member. It has been my sincere honor and pleasure to have served this organization for the past 14 years. I look forward to contributing to the field of SCI in a different capacity, to be announced.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the transition.



Teren Clarke, BN, MM (Mgmt)
Chief Executive Officer
Spinal Cord Injury Alberta
400, 11010 – 101 Street
Edmonton, AB  T5H 4B9
Main: (780) 424-6312
Direct: (587)410-2563
Personal Fax: (587)410-2563
Mobile: (780)991-1565

To empower persons with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities to achieve independence and full community participation.


YouTube spreads ‘misleading information’ about experimental stem cell treatments


Health Canada has warned unlicensed clinics are offering unauthorized cell therapies and making unproven, outsized claims that may pose serious risks to people

In an appearance last year on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast, Mel Gibson raved about how a trip to a Panama stem cell clinic had led to his ailing 92-year-old father’s seemingly superhuman recovery.

Gibson was skeptical at first, he told Rogan. “I’ve heard things about this,” he said he remembered thinking. “You grow a spare mouth on your head.”

That didn’t happen. Instead, after a double dose of stem cells extracted from umbilical cord blood was injected into his father’s hip, he started walking again, Gibson reported. His eyesight improved, his “cognitive power” improved and even his prolapsed heart valve healed, the actor said.

Read more here


Tommy Hilfiger unveils innovative clothing line for people with disabilities

Tommy Adaptive’s mission is to be inclusive and empower people of all abilities to express themselves through fashion – read more here

The SCI 2020: Launching a Decade for Disruption in Spinal Cord Injury Research Conference is just two months away! The meeting is February 12-13th at the NIH Campus in Bethesda, Maryland. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so here

Important Information:

1.) If you are unable to attend in person, don’t worry, this meeting will be live-streamed at the NIH Videocasting site. The archived recording will be available within a few days of the conference.

2.) The poster session application process is now open! Applications are due by January 15th. Space is limited, so only 48 posters will be selected. The goal of the poster session is to help facilitate collaborations and knowledge transfer, therefore the posters and abstracts are in a non-traditional format. Please read the instructions carefully before applying. The application information and form can be found under the Poster Session tab of the registration site.

3.) If you plan to attend in person, please be sure to book your hotel room soon. A limited number of rooms are reserved at the government rate at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel on Pooks Hill Road. The room block will only be guaranteed until January 4th, so don’t delay! Hotel information is available on the Logistics tab of the conference registration site.

Please continue to check back at the Registration site for the updated meeting agenda, which is available at the Agenda tab of the registration site.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact members of the NIH Steering Committee, and stay tuned for details on the Breakout Sessions and Lunch and Learn coming soon.



Stem Cell Tourist Sports Massive Growth: Condition Worsens

“Don’t trust anecdotes.” Take it from Jim Gass. Gass, a 66-year-old former chief

legal counsel for Sylvania, then living in Wilmington, Mass., had a stroke in 2009. He could walk on his own and lived independently, but he wanted to recover his flaccid

left arm and weak left leg.

“I began doing research on the internet,” Gass said. He discovered a lot of online testimonials about successful stem cell treatments. These treatments, unproven and

basically experimental, are not available in the U.S. of course, so you have to travel overseas, and pay a lot of money. Gass was especially impressed with the story of

former football star and golfer Jim Brodie, who recovered from a stroke after cell therapy in Russia.

Read More here: Clinical Trials


Dr Jennifer Leo will be the new Director of The Steadward Centre at the University of Alberta.

She has a doctor of philosophy degree (PhD) focused in Adapted Physical Activity from the University of Alberta.

Read More here: Dr. Jennifer Leo</span


Sherwood Park man determined to walk again with help of clinical trial in Miami

At Reyu Paralysis Recovery Centre on Monday, Landon Smith winces as he’s helped through exercises including rows and sit-ups. Every movement is part of his plan to get full movement throughout his body once again.

Smith is confident he will walk again despite being left paralyzed from the waist down after jumping into a foam pit at a Sherwood Park trampoline park last year.

Read More here: Clinical Trials


July 23, 2018

Dear Gala Attendees,

On behalf of The Steadward Centre staff, participants and their families, I want to sincerely thank you for attending The Steadward Centre’s 40th Anniversary Gala on June 21, 2018. We are grateful for your support and we thank all of you who gave generously towards preserving the legacy of The Steadward Centre, and supporting its important and ongoing work within our community.

At The Steadward Centre, we inspire individual achievement in Adapted Physical Activity and Parasport by conducting and applying innovative research, widely sharing expert knowledge and delivering highly successful programs for individuals experiencing disability. Since its inception, The Centre has expanded exponentially, now serving over 1000 individuals living with impairment from the Capital Region each year.

Once again, the gala provided us the opportunity to raise awareness for our programs, celebrate our successes over the past 40 years, and generate funds to sustain a future so we can ensure that every individual who wishes to participate is able to engage in meaningful physical activity and sport. The generous contribution of our attendees will allow us to continue to reach new heights in the years to come.

The 40th Anniversary Gala event has successfully raised over $200,000 for The Steadward Centre. Remarkably, the generosity of the community continues, as many of you have expressed an interest in supporting The Centre further through volunteering, extending financial support, and sharing our story with your friends and colleagues.
If you would like a tour of our facility to see our programs in action, or would like to discuss alternative ways to support the program, please contact Eric Upton at eupton@ualberta.ca or phone 780.492.6277.

If you have any questions regarding your personal donation, please do not hesitate to contact Nancy Cheung at nrcheung@ualberta.ca or 780.492.7298.

Thank you again for your generosity and support!

With gratitude,

Karen Slater
The Steadward Centre, University of Alberta



Together, We HOLD The Power! Accessibility Conference & Fall Forum

October 18 & 19, 2018

Voice of Albertans with Disabilities is hosting its first Conference and Forum! The conference and forum are a two day dialogue and information exchange, featuring a reception with a keynote speaker, workshops, information tables and presentations. Read More here


Stem Cells Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury


Spinal cord injury (SCI), a serious public health issue, most likely occurs in previously healthy young adults. Current therapeutic strategies for SCI includes surgical decompression and pharmacotherapy, however, there is still no gold standard for the treatment of this devastating condition. Inefficiency and adverse effects of standard therapy indicate that novel therapeutic strategies are required. Because of their neuroregenerative and neuroprotective properties, stem cells are a promising tool for the treatment of SCI. Read More


How do you separate scientifically sound stem cell therapies from scams?

For patients who’ve run out of other options, experimental, unproven therapies like stem cell treatments offer new hope. But how do you sort the scientifically legitimate from the dangerous?

Regenerative medicine is a controversial field, still in its infancy. There are academic researchers and major biotech companies testing key treatments in high-profile, vetted clinical trials — but there are also fringe clinics promising stem cell injections that can cure everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cerebral palsy, though they have no evidence to back up those claims.


Read more here



‘Science-ploitation’: stem cells being used to market dubious therapies, prof says

Stem-cell research can potentially lead to new treatments for all kinds of conditions — but right now, some experts are concerned “pop culture science” is overtaking research-based science. Timothy Caulfield, Canada research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta, says the term “stem cell” is being dubiously used by marketers to sell products. Read More


SCITCS has provided a treadmill to the REYu Paralysis Recovery Centre:


PHYSICAL ACTIVITY GUIDELINES for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury

These guidelines are appropriate for all healthy adults with chronic spinal cord injury, traumatic or non-traumatic, including tetraplegia and paraplegia, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Adults are encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities that are enjoyable and safe.

You should try to be active throughout the day, and in a variety of ways, in addition to your usual activities of daily living.

If you are newly injured, are pregnant, prone to autonomic dysreflexia, or have other medical conditions, you should talk to your health professional to find out what types and amount of physical activity are right for you. A health professional might include a doctor, a physiotherapist, or a qualified exercise professional.

As a safe progression towards meeting the guidelines it is appropriate to start with smaller amounts of physical activity and gradually increase how long, how often, and how hard you engage in physical activity.

Read more here