MEDIA RELEASE: How innovation can change a life

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patient Paul Garrett holding walking sticks with a physiotherapist watching, next to a graphic that reads: Introducing the Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity

Introducing the Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity

London, Ontario – It started like any other day. Paul Garrett could never have imagined that by the end of that day, he would be paralyzed from the waist down. On May 25, 2019, Paul noticed a slight tingling in the toes of his right foot. Being fairly fit and in his early sixties, he didn’t think much of it – until the numbness got worse, moving up to the base of his spine and down the other leg. Within 30 minutes he had lost all feeling and function in his legs.

Days later, Paul was diagnosed with acute onset transverse myelitis, a rare neuroimmune disorder where inflammation damages the insulating material (myelin) covering the nerves along the spine. Without this protective coating, signals from the brain to the spine and back cannot occur.

Paul received therapy for his condition at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute, Southwestern Ontario’s regional provider of rehabilitation. From the beginning, he knew exactly what he wanted for his recovery, “I wanted to walk out of the building on my own.” 

Paul was fortunate to have access to specialized rehabilitation equipment and the expertise of members of St. Joseph’s Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity as part of his therapies. The Gray Centre is focused on expanding and advancing mobility and rehabilitation treatment through research and collaborations between scientists and health care providers. Through Lawson Health Research Institute, scientists at the Gray Centre are leading the way in integrating technology platforms and innovations in care and tracking real-time data to enhance patient mobility outcomes.  

“Any current patient of St. Joseph’s rehabilitation programs can become part of the Gray Centre,” says Dr. Robert Teasell, Acting Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in London and Acting Scientific Lead of the Gray Centre. “The state-of-the-art equipment and wearable technology from the Gray Centre were instrumental in Paul’s recovery. And on a larger scale, the data we gather from treating patients like Paul is helping us improve and develop new models of care that will benefit future patients from various patient populations such those who have suffered a stroke, brain injury, amputation and neurological diseases.” 

All of Paul’s hard work paid off. After his last rehabilitations session, he met his goal and walked out of the building on his own. 

The Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity launch event

On Oct. 21 guests were welcomed to a virtual introduction of the Gray Centre and presentations on the exciting work of several of its mobility experts:

  • Sue Peters, PhD, Western University Faculty of Health Sciences - Wireless Neuroimaging During Mobility to Predict Recovery Trajectories after Stroke
    Stroke survivors say their top rehabilitation priority is to regain the ability to walk. Yet, one out of three stroke survivors do not walk in after discharge from rehabilitation. Learn more about the possibilities of collecting neuroimaging data using wireless technology during mobility tasks (e.g., overground walking, stairs) at multiple timepoints during a patient’s rehabilitation stay.
  • Swati Mehta, PhD - Virtual Physical Activity Programming During Pandemic
    The current pandemic has reduced access to safe, monitored physical activity programs for persons with spinal cord injury. Inactivity can contribute to a multitude of secondary complications including worsening physiological and psychosocial health. Learn about the use of telerehabilitation for continuing activity engagement without the risk of virus, exposure. 
  • Dr. Manuel Montero-Odasso - Mobility and Cognition The Collision of 2 Giants 
    Until recently, cognitive and mobility research in older persons has been performed in silos, creating knowledge gaps and obscuring the shared mechanisms that cause both cognitive and mobility impairments. Considering cognitive and mobility impairments separately is not only inefficient, it does not acknowledge the reality that leads to insidious disability in older people caused by dementia and falls. Learn more about our research in cognition and mobility.
  • Stephanie Cornell, MPT - Who, What, When? Using Technology in Rehab
    Parkwood Institute is home to specialized rehabilitation programs with access to some of the most advanced rehab technologies in Canada. Effective and appropriate use of rehab technology means that our patients receive the best care possible, when they need it. But there needs to be a coordinated plan in place to ensure both competency in technology use and sustainability over the long-term. Learn about our training, education and evaluation model for using rehabilitation technology in practice. 

Watch a recording of the Gray Centre launch event to hear more.

Announcing the inaugural William and Lynne Gray Research Chair in Mobility and Activity

Formal partnerships with Western University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is providing unique learning opportunities within the Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity with placements for various health disciplines. As well, the establishment of the William and Lynne Gray Research Chair in Mobility and Activity in Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences and the appointment of Siobhan Schabrun, PhD to the position, will further the research and education vision of the centre, translating its work nationally and beyond. Schabrun, who will officially begin in February 2022, is currently a principal research scientist with Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Director of the Centre for Pain Impact at the University of New South Wales.

For more information and to arrange interviews contact: 
Kelsi Break 
Communication Consultant 
Cell phone: 519-200-1397 
About The Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity   
Established in 2020, The Gray Centre for Mobility and Activity at St. Joseph’s Health Care London is expanding and advancing mobility and rehabilitation treatment and prevention solutions through research, collaborations and the latest technology to improve the lives of those living with disease, disability or injury. The Gray Centre is located at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute, Southwestern Ontario’s regional provider of rehabilitation and recovery health care and a national hub for treatment, research and education in mobility and activity. The Gray Centre is made possible through a $7.5 million gift to St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation from William and Lynne Gray. 

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