Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine is dedicated to assisting emotionally, developmentally, and physically handicapped populations by giving them the skills to live a full life.
Established in 1954 in response to a severe polio epidemic, the Faculty began as a training program for physical therapists. Occupational therapy and speech pathology and audiology programs were added later. Together with physical therapy, these programs eventually formed the three departments of the School of Rehabilitation Medicine, so named in 1964. The School of Rehabilitation Medicine became a faculty of the University of Alberta in 1969.
The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine continues to provide for the needs of handicapped communities; its services are expanding to meet that growing need. Corbett Hall, the Faculty's home since 1990, expanded to add laboratory, teaching, and office space to accommodate new staff and students. These expanded services allow the Faculty to train students to work as practitioners in the field of rehabilitation sciences, mental health, work evaluation, pediatrics, and geriatrics. Rehabilitation practitioners can be found in a wide range of settings, from community health care facilities and hospitals to private practice, social service agencies, sports teams, and government agencies.
The Faculty aims to improve the quality and accessibility of rehabilitation services in Alberta and is currently involved in the Rural Rehabilitation Initiative to respond to a shortage of rehabilitation staff in rural communities. Such shortages are addressed not only through this Initiative, but also through the Faculty’s participation in the Health Sciences Council (HSC).
The Faculty is also in negotiation with the Government of Alberta and pushing for professional legislation for occupational therapists and speech pathologists on par with that which currently governs physical therapists. In addition, the Faculty is also seeking professional licensure and regulation of the three disciplines.
The Faculty has been expanding its research to inform the practice of rehabilitation and public policy. Research funding for the Faculty has increased to 1 percent of the University’s research budget. There has been a shift from research conducted by medical doctors to more research conducted by therapists themselves. Also, to improve the quality of research being produced, the Faculty has implemented master’s programs in all of its departments.
The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine offers both an MSc and PhD in Rehabilitation Science with three possible specialties: Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. In recent years, these three departments have grown considerably and they are now the largest programs of their kind in Canada.
Founded in 1956, the Department of Physical Therapy was the first department within the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. Physical therapy specializes in restoring optimal function to persons with injuries or disease. In 1979, the Department began granting an MSc in Physical Therapy (MScPT), making the University of Alberta the first institution in Canada to offer a graduate degree in physical therapy. Although the Department no longer offers a BSc program in Physical Therapy, it continues to offer the MScPT program.
The Department of Physical Therapy contributes vital research in the field of physical therapy, covering a wide range of topics to aid physical rehabilitation. University of Alberta researchers are investigating the stresses and strains that lead to the high incidence of back problems in today's society. A growing interest in sports has prompted more research in the areas of sports medicine and sports-related injuries. For example, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Laboratory studies chronic and acute effects of exercise training on healthy older adults and those with cardiovascular disease.
To understand the physical strain caused by daily living, the Rehabilitation Ergonomics Research Laboratory conducts research into work-related tasks and basic movements. Research into the relationship between the nervous system and movement control, conducted by the Department’s Movement Disorders Group, has led to the formation of the Centre for Ambulatory Rehabilitation, Research, and Education (CARRE). The Centre participates in clinical research studies and provides groundbreaking therapies to those who have suffered spinal cord injuries or strokes.
The Department of Occupational Therapy, founded in 1960, initially offered only a BSc in Occupational Therapy. Although the Department, in 2007 stopped offering this program, it continues to train occupational therapists by offering an MSc in occupational therapy. Established in 1986, the MSc program focuses on training researchers. Research within the Department takes a balanced look at both psychological and physical factors impairing the abilities of handicapped persons and studies the psychosocial aspects of disability, neurophysiological rehabilitation, and forensic psychiatry. In addition, researchers at the University of Alberta have been looking at ways to increase access to and quality of services in occupational therapy.
In 1991, the MSc program included a course-based route designed to train professional occupational therapists. Occupational therapy, like physical therapy, is focused on helping the disabled maximize their abilities; occupational therapists develop their clients’ ability to function independently at home and in the workplace. Whereas physical therapists are concerned with providing their clients with a maximum of movement, strength, and coordination, occupational therapists help mentally handicapped clients and complement the work of physical therapists by helping patients apply new-found or regained strength and movement to the functions of daily-living and work.
The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology is involved in the areas of speech, language, and hearing disorders. The Department trains speech-language pathologists to work in public health agencies and schools to provide diagnosis, treatment, and therapy to those with disorders relating to hearing, speech, and language.
The Department offers an MSc in Speech-Language Pathology (MSc-SLP) with a course-based route to train professional pathologists and a thesis route to train researchers.
For the past 30 years, the Applied Development Neuroscience Group (ADN) has been examining clinical strategies to provide services for persons with neuromotor dysfunctions. With over 100 members from both the Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation and the Faculty of Medicine, ADN provides a link between theory generated by research and practice; in so doing, it facilitates evaluation of the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of those with neuromotor dysfunctions.
The ADN Research Group studies child development and developmental disabilities. The core group is made up of one member of each department and a pediatrician with an adjunct position in the Faculty. Five other faculty members share the Group’s interest in child development. Members of this group are also affiliated with the Health Science Council's Community University Partnership for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families; the Perinatal Research Centre; Canadian Language and Learning Research Network; and CanChild.
The Common Spinal Disorders (CSD) Group conducts internationally recognized research focusing on the etiology of spinal disorders including low back pain, sciatica, and other common problems that are the leading cause of lost time from work. This group has identified a genetic linkage to disc degeneration, a major scientific finding. Two Canada Research Chairs (one Tier 1 and one Tier 2) have been allocated to this group. They also have won major international awards for their research.
The University is known internationally for its work in defining and advancing the field of rehabilitation ergonomics. The work in this area complements the CSD Group by evaluating biomechanical and physiological effects of work-related tasks and relating them to physiological and anatomical effects. Outcomes of this research inform injury prevention and recovery and return to work.
A new cross-disciplinary research group, the Community Rehabilitation Research Group consists of academics and clinicians formed to study accessibility, relevance to need, equity, efficiency, effectiveness, and social acceptability of existing and developing models of community-based rehabilitation. This emerging area of excellence has already produced results that advise rehabilitation practice, service management, and professional curricula development. Planned collaborative projects have the potential to contribute to the professional knowledge base, provide indicators for basic and continuing education, and inform public policy.
The Craniofacial Osseointegration and Maxillofacial Rehabilitation Unit (COMPRU) is a highly specialized unit that reconstructs the features of the head and neck. COMPRU includes team members who specialize in surgery, jaw, and facial prosthetics; hearing; speech; dermatology; pathology; hyperbaric medicine; psychology; biomechanical engineering; and radiology. COMPRU is purpose designed to meet special needs, and its aim is to provide excellence in care, research, and teaching.
Work in the respiratory physiology laboratory identified the minimum physiologically tolerable trace amounts of H2S in humans. Publication of this work led to adoption of this level as the legal standard in several US states.
In an effort to find intervention methods that will maximize recovery from these afflictions, the Movement Disorders Research Group studies the neurophysiological mechanisms that cause movement disorders after injury or disease of the central nervous system. Researchers in this group have developed a patented animal model for spinal cord injury that has generated significant interest and financial support from pharmaceutical companies developing anti-spasticity drugs for individuals who have sustained a spinal cord injury. Other work of this group on motor control also has important implications for spinal cord injury recovery. CARRE is an outgrowth of this research group.
A less developed but emerging area of excellence in this group involves studies of the neurophysiological basis for gait and balance in animals and humans. This work has long-term implications for falls in older people, and collaborations with both the Northern Alberta Regional Geriatric (NARG) Program at the Glenrose and the Capital Care Group (CHA) have been initiated.
The Cardiac Rehabilitation Group (CRG) studies the acute and chronic effects of exercise training on skeletal muscle function, cardiovascular function, and fitness in healthy older individuals and older individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease. Members of this group consist of individuals from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's Departments of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and the Faculties of Physical Education and Medicine.
The Faculty is affiliated with several groups dedicated to improving the discipline of rehabilitation medicine.
Founded in 1989 at Corbett Hall, the Centre for Studies in Clinical Education (CSCE) addresses practices and policies of clinical education within the field of rehabilitation sciences by supporting and educating clinicians that supervise students and by looking at practicum policies within the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.
Established in 1989 and located in Corbett Hall, the Rehabilitation Research Centre’s (RRC) objective is to facilitate research in the discipline of rehabilitation by informing researchers, groups, and interested parties through consultation and provision of resource materials. Staff of the RRC specialize in research in multiple sclerosis (MS) and dementia. The groundbreaking work in identifying the abnormally high incidence of MS in Alberta was carried out by members of this group who continue to collaborate with over 3,000 researchers internationally in the study of MS. More recently, members of the Centre have focused on evaluation of care models for dementia and have received widespread recognition for this work.
Founded in 1986, the non-profit organization Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR) is unique in North America as a treatment centre for those who stutter. In addition to treatment, ISTAR produces advanced research on stuttering and provides practicum positions to students enrolled in speech-language pathology programs.
The Corbett Hall Early Education Program (CHEEP) is a pre-school program at the University of Alberta and provides early intervention to young children diagnosed with developmental delays. The Program employs a full-time speech-language pathologist and a therapist assistant, as well as part-time occupational therapists and a physical therapist.
|Deans of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine|
|1994–2007||Albert M. Cook|
|1991–1992||Sharon G. Brintnell (Acting)|
|1985–1993||Martha Cook Piper|
|1984–1985||Benita Bradley Fifield (Acting)|
|1979–1980||Benita Bradley Fifield (Acting)|
|1976–1984||Frank B. Wilson|
|Directors of the School of Rehabilitation Medicine|
|1974–1976||Frank B. Wilson|
|1972–1974||Moyna Jeanette Parker (Acting)|
|1967–1972||John B. Redford|
|1966–1967||Jose Jimenez (Acting)|
|1964–1966||Michael Trevor Falls Carpendale|
|1954–1964||John Richard Fowler|