Research in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Research in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa covers multiple domains:  basic/translational and clinical research to impact various national/international programs, government policy and Medical Education.

PM&R is the only academic group which deals with the acquisition and transmission of knowledge in the management of persons with disability. This area of scholarship is often overlooked as it is on the opposite end of the research spectrum.  Our members provide significant contributions in the areas of traumatic brain injury and stroke rehabilitation, which align well with the U of O Brain and Mind research mandate.

Through our Institute of Rehabilitation Research and Development, and with the support of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, our members are involved in team-based scholarship addressing key and innovative research areas including:  disability and driving, use of virtual reality in facilitating rehabilitation treatment, contracture management, and effects of immobility.

For more information on the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research Development please visit The Institute for Rehabilitation Research and Development (IRRD) website.

Dr Shawn Marshall spearheaded the internationally acclaimed Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly (CanDrive) program in 2002. Originally established through a CIHR NET grant, the program is aimed at improving the safety and quality of life of older drivers.  Collaboration with key stakeholders including seniors’ organizations, provincial ministries of transportation and professional organizations is imperative in ensuring that Candrive research translates into improved older driver public policy and clinical practice.

Candrive has recently announced its partnership with researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Autstralia.  The $1.8m, five-year Australian Research Council Linkage grant will fund an international study aimed at managing older driver safe mobility and includes collaboration with New Zealand, and the University of Michigan.  To learn more about Candrive please visit their website at:

From driving on the ground to excursions into space, Dr Guy Trudel is part of a research group who have received funding from the European Space Agency (ESA), Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to conduct various studies on the effects of microgravity on bone marrow adipogenesis, its prevention using a vibration exercise program, reversibility and effects on hemopoietic variables.

Dr Trudel’s research extends to the effects of immobility on the musculoskeletal system, specifically, the physical and biological changes occurring during contracture development in joints; mechanical limitation in ROM and the differential participation of various tissues; pannus proliferation in contractures, histomorphometric and biological study; gene expression in the capsule and cartilage in contractures; the study of primary degeneration of the supraspinatous tendon insertion in humans and their relation to tensile strength; and achilles tendonitis.  With his collaborators, Dr Trudel has published over 50 scientific papers in high-impact Journals.

Rehabilitation virtual reality research is an emerging area of scholarship in rehabilitation.  Dr Hillel Finestone is spearheading this initiative at Elisabeth Bruyere with a focus on patients with strokes.  IRRD will be collaborating with Dr Finestone and other key stakeholders internationally to further develop this new and innovative rehabilitation technology.

Research in the Division of PM&R isn’t isolated to rehabilitation.  Dr Nancy Dudek has received a multi-year Medical Council of Canada grant to assess the quality of in-training evaluations (ITER).  She is conducting one of the first multi-site, randomized studies in Medical Education on the effects of a faculty development intervention on faculty behaviour in completing quality ITER.  She has developed a validated rating scale which assesses the quality of completed ITER – the first of its kind.

Dr Sue Dojeiji co-chairs a national working group on communication skills training across the medical spectrum of training and practice.  Through the Milestones project, a consensus framework will be created to assist teachers and educators in levelling communication skills across the education continuum.