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Winter 2017 Director's Message

Many New Year resolutions hint at renewal, variously defined as a regeneration, or the receipt of fresh life or strength. Renewal in nature is seen as a positive force. For example, each spring, we welcome the renewal of flowers and trees. However, in large, traditional organizations like the academic world, renewal can be slowed by inertia. While inertia gives stability to the university, it may halt the flow of new ideas, new research paradigms, or new teaching methods. In short, inertia may slow down renewal. The noted poet, Hermann Hess said that “Whether you and I and a few others will renew the world someday remains to be seen. But within ourselves we must renew it each day.” So let’s talk about renewal in the School of Physiotherapy.

Some renewal is obvious in the School. At our January Faculty Meeting, we finalized our new curriculum map which will involve major changes to course delivery and the timing of clinical placements. We have a new Program Evaluation model to track all aspects of how the School runs and how we deliver its programs. We’re currently developing Strategic Plans at the School and Faculty levels to guide us through the next 5 years. The new Collaborative Health Education Building (CHEB) has radically changed how and where we teach, and how and where we conduct interprofessional health education. And, the School has embarked on a program to expand and enhance existing research facilities in musculoskeletal health, brain recovery and function, and exercise physiology.

Some renewal is less obvious and this newsletter focuses on those sources of change. Last fall, Retired Captain Sarah Gaudry [see our Alumni Profile] joined our ranks as a tutor and lab instructor in Neurotherapeutics. Sarah has infused our curriculum with the knowledge and inspiration she gained as a physiotherapist in the Canadian Armed Forces. Still with neurotherapeutics, rehabilitation for patients with brain injuries often centers on the results of the injury (e.g. functional arm exercises to improve hand function). PhD student, Sarah Kraeutner, has chosen to focus on the source of the problem, namely the brain, and is examining if brain focused rehabilitation (i.e. imagined movements) can aid in the acquisition of motor skills post stroke. Finally, we have also experienced faculty renewal with the recent appointment of Rebecca Moyer, PT, PhD [see our Faculty Profile]. Rebecca’s clinical and research acumen complements and strengthens our research capacity in the prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis.  We welcome the opportunity of having Dr. Moyer’s fresh insight on how we define, treat and evaluate patients with health conditions limiting mobility.

Change is constant. Universities strive to balance the need for change (i.e. renewal) with the need for stability (i.e. inertia). Here in the School, we are not immune to inertia, but we endeavour to renew [our world] each day. I invite you, the reader, to come see what we’ve done. Come see what we’ve built. Come see our new curriculum. Come see our new faces.