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Helping people with spinal cord injuries get active

Academics, community workers, service groups, organizations and consumers have teamed together to ensure that the SCI community reaps the benefits of research.
Helping people with spinal cord injuries get active

Pictured from left to right: Prof. Kathleen Martin Ginis, Joanne Smith

Some 50,000 Canadians are living with spinal cord injuries, many believing their injuries are a life sentence of inactivity. Not true, says kinesiologist Kathleen Martin Ginis, who led a $2.3-million research effort to investigate how best to increase physical activity among people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) so they can improve their physical and psychological well-being and, ultimately, their quality of life.

The goals of the research team – made up of academics, community workers, service groups, organizations and consumers – are to provide people with knowledge and skills to start a physical activity program and to find the most effective way to disseminate the information to the SCI community.

According to Martin Ginis, pictured with Joanne Smith, a community member of the research team, physical activity can have huge physical and psychological benefits for people living with spinal cord injuries. The problem, she says, is that many people with SCI think it’s inappropriate to exercise
or play sports and don’t believe they’ll reap any of the benefits from these activities.

Martin Ginis hopes that her research team can dispel that myth. “There is little doubt that physical activity improves health and well-being, and we’re determined to get that information out to the SCI community and those who provide their services.”

Funding for the five-year project (2007- 2012) came from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Community University Research Alliance grant, partnering institutions and community groups.