Examining the impact of COVID-19 on individuals with spinal cord injury

COVID-19 has disrupted the daily structure and life routines of people all over the world including many individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). The changes in daily activities, how the individual feels about these changes, and what is effective in managing these changes is not well understood. This has led to considerable adjustments on how individuals with SCI are interacting and engaging in activities during the pandemic.

BCIT Canadian Research Chair in Rehabilitation Engineering Design and a researcher at ICORD Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, in collaboration with UBC/ICORD researchers Dr. Ben Mortenson and Dr. William Miller are seeking to gain an understanding of the changes in daily living and social activities for Canadians with spinal cord injuries and how people are adjusting to these challenges.

“I know my life is different now,” says Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, who has a spinal cord injury himself. “We know people with SCI routinely deal with challenges in their daily lives. Is COVID-19 just another challenge, or are there important issues unique to this situation that we need solutions for?”

Dr. Ben Mortenson continues, “There have been anecdotal reports about problems with personal care provision and challenges maintaining physical distances from those using mobility devices on sidewalks.”

This study will help understand how people with SCI are dealing with the direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and also explore the challenges and solutions used during the quarantine period. Based on the findings the researchers will create a “toolkit” designed to mitigate current and future COVID-19 related issues and develop best practices for future pandemic situations.

The researchers are recruiting 30 people with spinal cord injury from across British Columbia. Participation in this study involves completing online questionnaires and a remote interview once per month until the restrictions related to COVID-19 are lifted. Compensation for participation will be provided.

Learn how to participate in this study.

The BCIT Rehabilitation Engineering Design Lab

Dr. Jaimie Borisoff is BCIT’s Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation Engineering Design.

BCIT’s Rehabilitation Engineering Design lab (REDLab) is located at BCIT’s Centre for Applied Research and Innovation (CARI). The REDLab works with a diverse, inter-disciplinary network of researchers as well as industry and community partners. The research program focuses on studying and developing technologies that positively affect a person with a disability’s health and ability to fully participate in their community. This research entails 1) studying the issues, barriers, and gaps faced by people with spinal cord injury and other mobility impairments; and 2) developing new or improving technologies to help mitigate these issues, and evaluating their effectiveness.

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