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2021 Year In Review

2021 Highlights collage

Together with our partners in the spinal cord injury community, Praxis accomplished many of our goals in 2021 to improve quality of life for people living with spinal cord injury.

Our work would not be possible without the generous support of our funders and donors. We thank you and look forward to continuing to make an impact in 2022.

We are proud to share these highlights from the Institute.

1. Improving Awareness of Research and Care in Indigenous Communities. In recognition of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month in November, Praxis signed a proclamation with BCANDS to work towards a Canada that is inclusive, equitable, and accessible for everyone. To support this initiative and discuss some of the barriers Indigenous people with SCI face, Praxis hosted an intimate Fireside Chat facilitated by Praxis’ Indigenous Peoples’ Liaison Richard Peter and special guests Melanie Jeffrey, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Indigenous Studies and Neil Belanger, Executive Director at BCANDS. Watch a recording of the Fireside Chat.

2. Developing the Pipeline for Innovative Technologies. Praxis’ Commercialization program was founded on the need to address the critical shortage in commercial, readily-available technology to serve people with spinal cord injury, their families and communities. After the successful launch of the Incubate and Accelerate programs in 2020, both programs introduced another nine companies to the programs, providing support in funding, mentorship and market strategy development. Meet the 2021 cohorts for the Incubate and Accelerate programs.

3. Podcast on Activity-based Therapy. Launched by the Praxis-supported Activity-based Therapy Community of Practice (ABT CoP), Spinal Moves is a Canadian podcast dedicated to raising awareness of ABT. In the first season, Hope Jervis Rademeyer and Anita Kaiser of the KITE Research Institute chat with people living with spinal cord injury, clinicians who work in neurological settings, and researchers who study activity-based therapy. Listen to the podcasts, available in English and French.

4. Innovative Tools for Spinal Cord Injury Rehab. In January, Praxis and MaRs Discovery District announced the finalists of the Spinal Cord Rehab Challenge. The competition challenged research innovators to propose new tools to measure rehabilitation activities and their impact on function in individuals with SCI. $100,000 was awarded to the top finalist, the KITE Research Institute. Finalists Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Pearl Interactives) and NCB-Lab at the University of Alberta each received $50,000. Read more about these exciting innovations.

Pictured left, clockwise: 2021/22 Incubate cohort companies, conversations about ABT in Spinal Moves podcast, Praxis Fireside Chat in support of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month.

5. Supporting Emerging Ideas. Hosted in partnership with the Ideation Clinic, the nation-wide SCI Ideation Challenge wrapped up with a Praxis Health Summit which engaged over 200 participants and showcased the top demos from the program as well as panel discussions with leading Canadian academics and industry experts. From innovations that prevent pressure injuries, to adaptive wheelchair equipment, see the top demos.

6. Funding World-class Research. In May, Praxis announced its latest batch of grant recipients from its open and directed calls for funding. Thirteen research teams across Canada received more than $850,000 in funding to investigate spinal cord stimulation technologies, expand high-impact and scalable networks, enhance quality of life initiatives and more. Learn how Praxis funding works.

7. A Global Resource for the SCI Community. Supported by a network of health and research organizations, including Praxis, the International Spinal Cord Injury Biobank (ISCIB) is an initiative led by Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Dr. Brian Kwon and a multi-disciplinary team of experts based out of the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre. ISCIB’s mission is to advance the understanding of the biology of SCI and share these findings with the global SCI community. Researchers from anywhere in the world can submit requests for ISCIB biospecimens provided that the proposed research has undergone ethical review and is aligned with ISCIB’s mission statement. Find out how you can request a biospecimen.

8. Creating Meaningful Partnerships in Research. Published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Integrated Knowledge Translation (IKT) Guiding Principles is a set of foundational tools with the potential to improve the relevance and impact of SCI research. Led by UBC-Okanagan researcher, Heather Gainforth, the guiding principles were developed by a team of researchers, research users and funding institutions including Praxis’ Consumer Engagement Manager, John Chernesky. Read a recap of Heather and John’s Fireside Chat on the topic of IKT at ISCoS 2021.

9. Connecting with the International SCI Community. Brokering knowledge exchange is at the core of what the Institute does to advance research and care. Praxis had a strong presence at two major spinal cord injury scientific conferences in 2021: the ISCoS Annual Scientific Conference and CSCIRA’s 9th  National SCI Conference. Praxis presented abstracts on topics covering the research and care continuum, hosted Fireside Chats on the topics of commercialization and IKT and Praxis researchers participated in the Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine’s special supplement to CSCIRA’s conference.

10. Joining the Global Movement of Giving. A global generosity movement that takes place the Tuesday after Black Friday, Praxis participated in Giving Tuesday’s #unselfie campaign – sharing selfies explaining why the work we do matters. As a result of our fundraising efforts, the Institute raised almost $15,000 that will go towards SCI innovations.

Pictured left, clockwise: ISCoS Annual Scientific Conference, International SCI Biobank’s new website, Giving Tuesday’s #unselfie campaign, CSCIRA’s National SCI Conference, Praxis Fireside Chat on Integrated Knowledge Translation, Praxis Ideation Challenge.

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