The UBC Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is committed to research with the goal of improving outcomes for our patients and enhancing the professional development of our members.

Division members participate in a variety of national and international collaborative research projects. Research projects are supported by funds from local, national, and international sources including: Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, Heart and Stroke foundation of Canada, Disability Health Research Network, Rick Hansen Foundation, and Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Members of our division are affiliated with interdisciplinary research organizations including the Rehabilitation Research Program, iCORD, and our division’s in house Research Advisory Council.

Division Research Areas

Autonomic Function

Autonomic functions encompass the unconscious neurological and hormonal systems that regulate blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, temperature, swallowing, bladder function, bowel function, pupillary responses, sexual functions, and many others. These systems are impaired in conditions such as spinal cord injuries, strokes, post transplant, and brain injuries. Division members participate in research to restore and compensate for disruption to these functions.


Spasticity is a component of central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) injury whereby affected muscles become stiff and tight, making them difficult to passively or actively move. This can affect every aspect of a patient’s movement, cause pain, and complicate basic activities such as walking, dressing, eating, bathing, and seating. Division members participate in research on a wide range of treatment options to reduce spasticity and mitigate the challenges of living with spasticity.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke

Traumatic brain injuries and strokes are complicated disease processes that affect everything from cognitive functions to sensation. Division members participate in multiple areas of research helping to optimize brain injury recovery, improve treatments for the complications of these devastating diseases.

Peripheral Nerve and Tendon Transfer

Peripheral and central nerve injuries often heal slowly and incompletely. An evolving treatment approach for these injuries involves reconnecting and repositioning functioning tendons and peripheral nerves. The goals of these treatments are to allow patients more functional use of affected upper extremities. Division members participate in the clinical care of these patients as well as in research to improve delivery of these procedures and their outcomes.

Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Spinal cord injuries are complex and devastating injuries with many motor, sensory, and autonomic complications. Division members engage in formal research and active quality improvement projects to better understand and treat the primary damage caused by spinal cord injuries and its many complications.

Rehabilitation Research Day

Our division hosts an annual one day research symposium held each spring at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. This event showcases research projects undertaken by members of the division, and rehabilitation medicine researchers from all disciplines working through the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

The symposium consists of poster presentations, podium lectures, and invited plenary speakers.