Connecting to the community
The Mobility Project takes a broad view in its efforts to restore function and mobility to people with neurological disorders and other conditions that impair their abilities. Its work is therefore not confined to laboratories and clinics but extends into the community.
Physiatrist Dr. Lee Kirby is helping people with spinal cord injuries and other disabling conditions become more mobile in their wheelchairs. His work to improve wheelchair safety and performance, and to develop, test and share an effective wheelchair skills training program with countries all over world, has enabled thousands of people to safely manoeuvre their wheelchairs over and around obstacles. Dr. Kirby is continually advancing this work so that more people can enjoy enhanced mobility, freedom and independence in their communities.
Philosopher Dr. Françoise Baylis has a strong interest in the implications of new neuro-regenerative technologies, from a societal perspective. She works with the Mobility Project to provide an ethical sounding board as the group charts a course to potentially transformative new treatments.
Through the Mobility Project, the research community is becoming increasingly linked to organizations which represent those people the research is ultimately designed to help. For example, representatives of the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA) attend Mobility Project meetings, share information and work in partnership with some of the researchers. CPA is in the process of developing new outcomes measures and research priorities that may lead to new collaborations with the Mobility Project.
The ALS Society of Canada has established relationships with several Mobility Project researchers. ALS Canada is committed to supporting research towards a cure for ALS, supporting provincial ALS societies in their provision of quality care for persons living ALS, and building public awareness of ALS and its impact. By connecting with the Mobility Project, ALS Canada hopes to strengthen multi-disciplinary ALS research spanning the spectrum from basic science through clinical trials to investigations into assistive devices for people living with ALS.
Preventing traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries is at the far end of the spectrum. The Mobility Project is building a relationship with the Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection, to support the agency in its work to prevent risk-taking behaviour in youth, which can lead to paralyzing injuries of the brain and spinal cord. For example, Health Promotion and Protection is involved in the PARTY program, which interactively educates high school students about the potential life-altering consequences of drug and alcohol use. The agency sees collaborating with the Mobility Project as a means of furthering research and advocacy for healthier public policy.