Patty Wellborn

Email: patty-wellborn@news.ok.ubc.ca


 

an elderly person holding up a piece of wearable tech

UBCO researchers are using wearable technology to help track the involuntary movements of Parkinson’s patients.

Wearable health technologies are vastly popular with people wanting to improve their physical and mental health. Everything from exercise, sleep patterns, calories consumed and heart rhythms can be tracked by a wearable device. But timely and accurate data is also especially valuable for doctors treating patients with complicated health conditions using virtual care. A new study from the Southern Medical Program (SMP), based at UBC Okanagan, has examined the use of wearable health technology and telehealth to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Daryl Wile, a movement disorder specialist and SMP clinical assistant professor, routinely uses telehealth to connect with Parkinson’s patients across the vast and rugged landscape of BC’s Interior. “Even prior to the pandemic, telehealth helped deliver specialized care to patients living in remote and rural settings,” says Wile, a clinical investigator with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. “But with the complex nature of Parkinson’s, we wanted to enhance these appointments to better understand how movements vary throughout a patient’s entire day.” To add a new layer of health information, Wile and the research team added wearable technology to the equation. “We recruited Parkinson’s patients with either tremors or involuntary movements,” says Joshua Yoneda, SMP student and co-author of the study. “We then divided them into two groups — some using telehealth and device-based health tracking and others attending traditional face-to-face appointments.” The telehealth group wore wearable devices to track their movements, involuntary or not, throughout waking hours. The reported data was then reviewed during telehealth appointments to identify peak times patients experienced Parkinson’s symptoms. “With the integration of accurate and reliable data from wearable devices, we were able to tailor a patient’s medication to better manage their symptoms throughout the day,” adds Wile. As part of the study, patients were asked a series of questions from the standardized Parkinson Disease Quality of Life Index. Both study groups were assessed at intervals of six weeks, three months and six months. Overall, the patients using the wearable devices reported positive experiences and health outcomes in combination with telehealth appointments to access specialized care. “There’s definitely a strong case to leverage multiple technologies to improve a patient’s quality of life and limit the added stress and cost associated with travel,” says Yoneda. The study was recently published in Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.
UBCO Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Evelyn Cornelissen has a virtual conversation with students Rowan Laird and Jimmy Lopez.

UBCO Clinical Associate Professor Dr. Evelyn Cornelissen has a virtual conversation with students Rowan Laird and Jimmy Lopez.

Teaching children how to navigate health claims during COVID-19

Although bogus health claims have dogged humanity for centuries, a UBC Okanagan professor says COVID-19 has made the importance of navigating health claims more critical than ever. And there are plans to make BC’s elementary school students better health detectives, one class at a time.

Dr. Evelyn Cornelissen is a clinical associate professor with the Southern Medical Program (SMP) based at UBCO. As the global pandemic emerged last spring she became increasingly concerned with how health misinformation was impacting children.

“Internet connectivity and social media have fuelled the spread of health misinformation, while rotating lockdowns have increased uncertainty and reluctance to follow public health guidelines,” she says.

Cornelissen, a registered dietitian in Kelowna, enlisted the help of Rowan Laird, first-year SMP student and Jimmy Lopez, graduate research assistant with BC Children's Hospital’s Vaccine Evaluation Center, to create a virtual seminar to teach children how to evaluate and identify reputable sources of health information.

“Misinformation is so endemic these days,” says Laird, who took on the project as part of a UBC Faculty of Medicine’s flexible and enhanced learning course. “Our goal is to teach students how to navigate health information online, spot misinformation and think critically about health claims.”

The project team presented their one-hour seminar “So You Want to be a Health Detective?” to a Grade 5/6 split class at École Glenmore Elementary in Kelowna. Laird was keenly interested in learning how and why 10- to 12-year-olds access information on their own.

The interactive session presented tips about evaluating information sources and encouraging the students to think critically about the 5Ws (who, what when, where, and why) to help spot websites that lack current scientific data or might have ulterior motives.

Feedback from the class indicated students often turn to Google to research questions they are initially reluctant to ask a parent or teacher out of fear of embarrassment. The internet is seen as a trial run before discussing with someone they trust.

“At times, it can appear people who are spreading misinformation are given an equal platform to the actual health experts,” says École Glenmore Elementary teacher Elizabeth Archer. “It is important for students to grow up recognizing they have a responsibility to look more deeply into headlines and general claims — especially about their own bodies.”

Students were given a pop quiz before and after the seminar to assess attitudes towards misinformation, trustworthy sources and their confidence levels in assessing online information. They were also given a blind test to compare web pages from the BC Centre for Disease Control and a prominent anti-vaccination organization.

“Within five minutes of studying each webpage, they were able to quickly identify the trustworthy source,” adds Laird. “I was really impressed how quickly they applied their critical thinking skills to assess the credibility of the information.”

The successful pilot has pushed the team to explore opportunities to expand the seminar to more schools and grades across the province in the fall.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Aidan O’Callahan is UBCO’s winner of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation. Photo courtesy of Kayley Jackson at Rural Roots Photography.

Aidan O’Callahan is UBCO’s winner of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Inclusion, Democracy and Reconciliation. Photo courtesy of Kayley Jackson at Rural Roots Photography.08

Honours psychology graduate wins Lieutenant Governor’s medal

Although Aidan O’Callahan describes himself as a planner — a critical thinker who likes to get his ducks in a row before committing to anything — it’s almost a fluke he ended up at UBC Okanagan.

With American and Canadian parents, O’Callahan was finishing high school in a small town in Connecticut when he began investigating which university to attend. His mother had one request — just apply to a single school in Canada, for fun. He started an online search looking for something unique where he could feel at home, but also where he could explore his full potential.

“It really is a coincidence I ended up at UBC Okanagan,” O’Callahan says. “I was applying to American schools in cities like Boston and New York. When I looked up schools in Canada I found UBCO. I came to visit the Okanagan campus with my dad and I thought ‘wow, this is pretty unique. This is the place for me.’”

Part of UBCO’s appeal, he says, is the close-knit campus and how easy it is to make connections with students and professors from every faculty.

While a student in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, O’Callahan found it easy to learn across faculties as he was curious about many things. It was his curiosity and confidence that led the psychology student to reach out to Dr. Charlotte Jones, an associate professor with the Faculty of Medicine.

“I have always been interested in thinking critically, especially as it relates to policies in health care, politics, and social services,” he says. “Because I like to understand an issue from multiple perspectives, I became passionate about Indigenous-led projects in health care and multidisciplinary work within the health care system. I started learning more about Dr. Jones’ interesting research and reached out to her.”

O’Callahan’s curiosity led to the Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Research Program and then a separate position with a UBC Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Project in Health Scholarship. He completed this research with the help of Dr. Jones and School of Nursing Associate Professor Dr. Donna Kurtz. This in turn led him to Prince George and Kamloops where he worked with several communities to co-develop an Indigenous-led culturally safe telehealth service for people living with diabetes and obesity.

Laying that foundation led to three years of research, including opportunities at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and Yale University. While conducting this research, he also managed to earn top grades in his studies.

Last week, O’Callahan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Psychology and a Minor in Indigenous Studies. Along with his degree, he was also presented the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Medal.

The Lieutenant Governor’s medal program recognizes students who excel in their studies while making outstanding contributions in inclusion, democracy and/or reconciliation on campus or in their communities.

It was his academic standing, combined with his kindness, empathy, and leadership skills, that prompted Dr. Jones to nominate him for the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal.

“I have been impressed by Aidan's academic achievements — completing an honours degree and getting an almost perfect GPA — while conducting research,” says Dr. Jones. “His knowledge of Indigenous peoples and their health and wellness, his work ethic, his determination, and his ability to flourish in cross-cultural relations has demonstrated his gentle but effective leadership style.”

When asked about his academic accomplishments, O’Callahan quickly changes the subject.

“I don’t really like to talk about my grades. I recognize they are important and you don’t get great grades just from talent. It has been a lot of hard work,” he admits. “However, I also recognize I’ve come from a privileged position. There is no way I would have accomplished my grades or my volunteer experience if I was hungry most days. Too many university and college students go hungry and it has been shown that this decreases concentration, motivation and overall well-being. Sure, I’ve faced barriers, but there has always been food on the table and people in the background supporting me.”

Even though he has graduated, student food insecurity still concerns O’Callahan. He is hopeful UBCO student advocates can work with local government and the university to ensure fewer students are food insecure every year.

With five years of university behind him, O’Callahan currently works with BrainTrust Canada helping clients with brain injuries who have previously been incarcerated. He’s taking an academic break before making his next move. For a planner, he sees the irony in not knowing what is next. He is keeping his doors open, knowing he has knocked on the right ones, and plans to eventually apply to UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.

“I love living in the Okanagan and it is such an honour to work and volunteer with the Syilx people,” he says. “I know that the next decision I make will determine my life direction and I am very excited for what the future holds.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

The COVID-19 Disability Survey captured perspectives from Canadians with different types of disabilities and their family members.

The COVID-19 Disability Survey captured perspectives from Canadians with different types of disabilities and their family members.

Nearly 30 per cent of those polled are hesitant to get vaccinated

A new study led by UBC researchers and the Ontario-based Abilities Centre is sounding the alarm over the damaging effects of COVID-19 for Canadians with disabilities.

Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis, director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, points to public health restrictions and lack of community resources as key contributors to heightened challenges facing those living with disabilities.

“Limited social support, reduced access to recreational space and financial uncertainties have exacerbated the current situation,” says Martin Ginis, a professor at UBC Okanagan. “As the pandemic continues to draw on, we need to prevent more individuals from slipping further through the cracks.”

The COVID-19 Disability Survey targeted Canadians who identify as having a disability — such as a physical, cognitive or sensory disability — or having a child or family member living with a disability in their household. The survey collected responses from across Canada and with representation from most provinces and territories.

Of those surveyed, 82 per cent reported that the pandemic is negatively impacting their mental health. Individuals reported unmet needs for emotional counselling, recreation and leisure programs, income support, specialized health care, accessible housing and transportation.

A majority of people reported decreased physical activity, less healthy lifestyles and significant social isolation. For children with disabilities, more than half of parents reported their child experiencing decreased physical activities as a result of public health restrictions.

“Another key finding was that only 72 per cent of Canadians with disabilities planned to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” says Stuart McReynolds, president and chief executive officer with the Abilities Centre. “We need to help boost vaccine confidence for all individuals, so we can collectively put this public health crisis behind us.”

The COVID-19 Disability Survey data has already contributed to positive policy changes such as the Ontario Government’s amendment for people with disabilities to have access to physical therapy programs and by providing guidance around how to ensure that vaccination sites are fully accessible.

“This survey provides a snapshot of the negative impact of the pandemic and COVID-19 restrictions on the well-being of Canadians with disabilities,” adds Martin Ginis. “We strongly urge governments and community agencies to work quickly to address service gaps and mitigate further negative mental and physical health impacts.”

The full report can be viewed at: abilitiescentre.org/Abilities/media/Documents/Covid-survey-report

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

About the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management

Based at UBC Okanagan, the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) serves as a leader for research, knowledge translation and exchange in the urgent research field of chronic disease prevention. The CCDPM is the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s first research centre located outside of the Lower Mainland. To learn more, visit: ccdpm.med.ubc.ca

About the Abilities Centre

Abilities Centre strives to make communities more accessible and inclusive to increase quality of life for every individual and enable them to participate fully in community and economic life. As a community hub, living lab and inclusion incubator, Abilities Centre engages individuals and communities in inclusive and accessible programs, leads research and advocacy on inclusion issues, and develops innovative frameworks for programs that are replicable, scalable and customizable to the needs of local communities in Durham Region and across Ontario and Canada. Learn more at: abilitiescentre.org

A UBC professor says the WHO exercise guidelines for people with disabilities miss the mark because they are not based on people who exercise mainly with their arms.

A UBC professor says the WHO exercise guidelines for people with disabilities miss the mark because they are not based on people who exercise mainly with their arms.

Physical activity guidelines for people living with disabilities miss the mark

A UBC researcher is calling out the World Health Organization’s newly introduced activity and sedentary guidelines for people living with disabilities.

Kathleen Martin Ginis is director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management and a professor with UBC’s Department of Medicine and UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences. She holds the Reichwald Family Chair in Preventive Medicine, is a researcher with the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries and works to help people living with spinal cord injury maintain a physically active lifestyle.

Martin Ginis discusses the WHO’s recently-announced global guidelines and how they missed the mark.

Much of your research focuses on physical activity guidelines for people living with disabilities. Can you explain why getting exercise is so important for this population?

People with disabilities are at just as much risk for inactivity-related chronic diseases (heart disease, Type 2 diabetes) as the general population, if not more so. We also know that physical activity is important for mental health. However, people with disabilities do far less activity than the general population because of the countless barriers to activity that they face in their daily lives.

You have recently written an article for the Human Kinetics Journal, questioning the World Health Organization’s new physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for people living with disabilities. What did they get wrong?

I’ve got several concerns with these guidelines. My biggest is that the guidelines are based on scientific evidence derived from studies of people without disabilities. Admittedly, there are still relatively few good studies that have measured the role of physical activity in preventing chronic diseases and improving the health of people with diseases. But in the absence of those types of studies, the WHO decided to simply extrapolate the research evidence for the general population and apply it to people with disabilities.

The upshot is that the guidelines for people with disabilities are now exactly the same as for the general population—150 to 300 minutes each week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity and strength-training twice per week. One problem with this is that people with certain types of physical impairments do not have the same physiological response to exercise as the general population. We don’t know if they will get the same benefits from the recommended guidelines as the general population.

Also, none of the guideline evidence is based on people who do their exercise with their arms (e.g., to push a wheelchair or use an arm-cycle). No studies have looked at the long-term effects of 150 to 300 minutes a week of arm exercise so we don’t know the benefits or the risks. Even for people with disabilities who would be expected to have the same physiological response to exercise as the general population (e.g., people with visual or cognitive impairments), we cannot simply assume that that amount of physical activity will mitigate the many other risks to well-being that people with disabilities constantly face, such as poverty, lack of access to health care and social isolation.

Your paper talks about the tremendous societal barriers to participation. Can you explain what some of these barriers might be?

There are so many! People with disabilities are often turned away from fitness centres and recreation facilities not just because those spaces are physically inaccessible, but because the people who work there have misconceptions or a complete lack of knowledge about how to support a person with a disability in a physical activity setting.

A lack of transportation is also a huge barrier—one of the most common. People with disabilities are mostly excluded from public health campaigns and advertisements promoting physical activity. There’s the old adage ‘’if you can see it, you can be it.” Unfortunately, people with disabilities don’t see themselves represented in physical activity settings as often as they should.

If people living with disabilities decide these guidelines are unrealistic and unachievable, do you think they will simply stop trying to be active?

Yes. That’s my concern. The studies that we do have on physical activity for people with disabilities suggest that they can achieve significant health and fitness benefits by doing much less than 150 minutes a week. For instance, people living with spinal cord injury can improve their cardiometabolic health by doing 90 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise each week.

Given the plethora of barriers to physical activity experienced by people with disabilities, and evidence of significant benefits from lower doses of physical activity, it does not make sense for the WHO to promote the general population’s guideline as being an appropriate guideline for people with disabilities. I understand the WHO had good intentions to be inclusive with this guideline, but my concern is that the guideline will actually put people off, and further exclude people with disabilities from physical activity.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

The Stronger Together project connects patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

Free online health resources, coaching and peer-to-peer support

Researchers with the UBC Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) have teamed up with digital health company Curatio to provide Canadians with virtual health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Stronger Together project harnesses Curatio’s social networking health app to connect patients with expert resources, online counselling, daily health trackers and opportunities to build social connections with Canadians experiencing similar health circumstances.

“Patients are facing unique challenges accessing health care resources during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Kathleen Martin Ginis, director with the UBC Okanagan-based CCDPM. “We need to bridge these gaps and help patients build social connections that can improve their health and well-being.”

In addition to contributing expert content, CCDPM researchers will assist with program evaluation for the platform’s nine different public communities—which are cardiovascular health and well-being, disability and physical activity, stroke recovery, keeping mentally strong with multiple myeloma, respiratory health and well-being, prostate cancer, 4+2 diabetes reversal, plan to move your kids and parenting during COVID-19.

Curatio CEO Lynda Brown-Ganzert stresses the importance of helping patients stay healthy from their own home while also reducing the burden on an already-strained health care system.

“By providing daily virtual support to patients, we can help improve the lives of Canadians and support the important work of our dedicated health care professionals,” says Brown-Ganzert. “Current participants have already seen improvements in their health literacy and outcomes by using our private and secure platform, not to mention the enjoyment of making social connections with people going through the same thing.”

Individuals can register for free access at www.curatio.me/strongertogether. By joining the platform, participants will assist researchers in learning how to best offer virtual health support and contribute to Curatio’s program development.

“We are thrilled to offer this new online resource that will contribute to the health of Canadians and the health care system as a whole,” adds Martin Ginis.

The Stronger Together project is supported by an investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster which brings together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including health care, natural resources, manufacturing and transportation.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Study examines the benefits of virtual stroke rehabilitation programs

Efficacy and cost prove similar to traditional face-to-face management

While virtual medical and rehabilitation appointments seemed novel when COVID-19 first appeared, they now seem to be part of the new norm and might be paving the way to the future.

A recent review paper, co-authored by Brodie Sakakibara with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) has determined that virtual appointments, in the form of telerehabilitation, also work for people recovering from a stroke.

After a stroke, a client is provided with a therapy program to help re-gain loss of skills or motion—this can range from speech and memory, strength, balance and endurance. While not initially introduced for disease outbreaks, Sakakibara a UBCO assistant professor says research shows remote therapy can be effective during stroke recovery.

“Telerehabilitation has been promoted as a more efficient means of delivering rehabilitation services to stroke patients while also providing care options to those unable to attend conventional therapy,” says paper co-author Sakakibara. “These services can be provided to remote locations through information and communication technologies and can be accessed by patients in their homes.”

To learn how effective telerehabilitation can be, six different clinical trials—examining stroke telerehabilitation programs—were launched across Canada as part of a Heart and Stroke Foundation initiative. People recovering from a stroke were provided with interventions ranging from lifestyle coaching to memory, speech skills and physical-exercise training.

“Researchers from each of the six trials came together to write a review paper describing their experiences conducting a telerehabilitation study, and to report on the facilitators and barriers to the implementation of telerehab services within a research context,” says Sakakibara.

Going forward with telerehabilitation as a new reality, Sakakibara says the study authors determined there are important lessons learned from each of the six trials. Most notably, the efficacy and cost of telerehabilitation is similar to that of traditional face-to-face management. He also notes patients mostly reported satisfaction with the telerehabilitation when therapists were trained appropriately, and when there was some social interaction. Overall, clinicians prefer face-to-face interactions but will use telerehabilitation when face-to-face is not feasible.

And finally, since seniors are a key target group for stroke rehabilitation—as stroke is associated with aging—the technology needs to be easy to use and suit the needs of the end users.

“The older adult of today, in terms of technology comfort and use, is different than the older adult of tomorrow,” he says. “While there might be some hesitation of current older adults using technology to receive health and rehab services, the older adult of tomorrow likely is very comfortable using technology. This represents a large opportunity to develop and establish the telehealth/rehabilitation model of care.”

Sakakibara notes COVID-19 has amplified the necessity for telehealth and telerehabilitation for many Canadians—especially those in remote areas or for the estimated 70 per cent of stroke victims who are no longer able to drive.

“Prior to the outbreak, telehealth/rehabilitation was highly recommended in Canadian stroke professional guidelines, but was underused,” he says. “Now in response to COVID-19, the use of telerehabilitation has been accelerated to the forefront. Once these programs are implemented in practice, it’ll be part of the norm, even when the outbreak is over. It is important that we develop and study telerehabilitation programs to ensure the programs are effective and benefit the patients.”

The review paper, partially funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, was prepared by a team of researchers from across Canada. It was published recently in Telemedicine and e-Health.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

With gyms, recreation centres and sports programs closed due to COVID-19, people living with disabilities are looking for creative ways to stay active at home.

With gyms, recreation centres and sports programs closed due to COVID-19, people living with disabilities are looking for creative ways to stay active at home.

UBCO, Queen’s University, offer virtual, at-home physical activity program

For many people, staying active during COVID-19 isolation can be a struggle. More so for people living with disabilities, says UBC Okanagan’s Kathleen Martin Ginis.

Martin Ginis is a professor in UBCO’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and director of the UBC Faculty of Medicine Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. She’s also the director of the Canadian Disability Participation Project (CDPP)—a group that has revived a service called Get in Motion to support people with disabilities get regular physical activity.

Get in Motion was a phone-in coaching service led by Martin Ginis’s lab, but put on hold a few years ago. Now, with people self-isolating, there is a push from public health authorities for people to get a daily dose of physical activity. However, Martin Ginis and her colleagues from Queen’s University, Amy Latimer-Cheung and Jennifer Tomasone, say Canadians with disabilities have fewer options than others to get exercise.

“People with a disability are at increased risk for social isolation under ‘usual’ circumstances, but especially so during the COVID outbreak,” says Martin Ginis. “They also face unique barriers and challenges to physical activity. With the closure of adapted physical activity and recreation programs, we are very concerned about the health and well-being of Canadians with disabilities. We are offering the Get in Motion service as a way to manage some of the psychosocial and physical health risks of being inactive at home.”

Martin Ginis explains that adapted sport and exercise programs were closed across the country because of COVID-19.

“We had been talking to our community partners who were closing their programs and we were all feeling upset about the impact these closures will have on community members with disabilities,” she says. “We were all thinking ‘I wish we still had Get in Motion’ and then Amy Latimer-Cheung started the ball rolling—and got the service back up and running.”

Based virtually out of Latimer-Cheung and Tomasone’s lab at Queen’s, Get in Motion is available for all Canadians with physical disabilities, as well as for Special Olympics athletes. Participants can connect with a volunteer physical activity coach via phone or online conferencing. The volunteer then guides that person through an at-home physical activity program.

The CDPP is based out of UBC Okanagan and Martin Ginis has several students actively counselling Get in Motion participants while others are being trained.

Get in Motion volunteer Sarah Lawrason is a second-year doctoral student who studies physical activity participation among people with spinal cord injuries who walk. She was matched with someone who fits into her research population.

“My client lost access to her regular physiotherapy when COVID-19 happened. We talk once a week about her exercise goals,” says Lawrason. “She appreciates the accountability of checking in and setting a goal each week and she's enjoyed the resources I've sent her that have similar exercises to her normal routine.”

Lawrason notes, however, this is definitely a two-way relationship where both the coach and the client are benefitting.

“Initially, I was really excited to start coaching as it aligns with my own research,” she says. “But I also really look forward to my calls each week because it's a new friendly person to talk to when I'm feeling isolated.”

The CDPP has documented data about the benefits of sport and exercise participation for Canadians with disabilities including improved health, well-being and overall life satisfaction.

“Our research has shown that a sense of belonging is key to people with disabilities experiencing ‘full and effective participation’ in sport and exercise,” says Martin Ginis. “With Get in Motion, we are striving to provide that sense of belonging through phone calls with trained volunteers who have experience with adapted sport and exercise. Because the belongingness piece is removed if you are doing this all alone.”

For more information about the Get in Motion, or to enrol in the program, visit: cdpp.ca/get-involved

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

UBC Okanagan’s Sharon Hanna, Mathew Vis-Dunbar and Jason Pither announced this week UBC is the first Canadian university to sign on to the Center for Open Science’s online platform, OSF Institutions.

UBC Okanagan’s Sharon Hanna, Mathew Vis-Dunbar and Jason Pither announced this week UBC is the first Canadian university to sign on to the Center for Open Science’s online platform, OSF Institutions.

New service aims to make transparency, collaboration, and reproducibility easier than ever

With increasing interest in promoting transparency, collaboration, and reproducibility in academic research, the University of British Columbia announced today that it has become the first Canadian post-secondary institution to join the Center for Open Science’s online platform, Open Science Framework Institutions (OSFI).

OSFI is a highly flexible collaboration and research management tool that encourages best practices in project organization and reproducibility.

Mathew Vis-Dunbar is a librarian for the Southern Medical Program, biology and human kinetics at UBC Okanagan and has been leading UBC’s adoption of the system. He says the university’s embrace of open science is important for bringing greater transparency to academic research and for helping to maintain public trust in science.

“With recent concerns about a reproducibility crisis plaguing scientific research, the benefits of open science, where everything from research plans to the data and results of a study is posted for all to review and scrutinize, are well recognized,” says Vis-Dunbar. “Breaking down traditional barriers to collaborative research is also very effective at improving the quality and impact of research, making connections and accelerating the pace of scientific discovery.”

That is where OSFI comes in, says Jason Pither, associate professor of biology at UBC Okanagan and collaborator on the project.

“We all strive to publish ground-breaking research, but equally important is ensuring that our work is reproducible, and discoverable to all who wish to see it,” says Pither. “OSFI facilitates this. It is a free online platform that helps researchers organize their research projects and workflow, to keep track of all changes made along the way, and to store and share protocols and outputs.

Pither adds that it also integrates with many tools that researchers are already using, and makes large international collaborations easy.

“OSFI accommodates all aspects of the work that goes into research, such as storing data and making them accessible and discoverable,” he says. “And unlike other platforms, OSFI provides storage infrastructure that resides in Canada.”

“Our membership in OSFI will help UBC researchers lead Canada’s efforts towards greater transparency and rigour in academic research, and it’s a move I expect many other institutions to follow.”

To find out more about the initiative at UBC behind OSFI, visit:  openscience.ubc.ca/about

To find out more about the Center for Open Science and the OSFI platform, visit: cos.io

Ariel Smith, a second-year medical student, recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training and provides free workshops on how to deal with an opioid overdose.

Ariel Smith, a second-year medical student, recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training and provides free workshops on how to deal with an opioid overdose.

Medical student hosts opioid overdose prevention workshop

What: Free naloxone training and education workshop
Who: Southern Medical Program student, volunteers with Okanagan Naloxone Training
When: Monday, November 25 at 6 p.m.
Where: UBC Okanagan, room RHS 260, Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, 1088 Discovery Ave., Kelowna

Ariel Smith, a Southern Medical Program student at UBC Okanagan has seen first-hand the impacts of the opioid overdose crisis on Okanagan communities.

During the height of BC’s public health emergency in 2016, Smith volunteered as part of the naloxone training team with Helping Out People Exploited (HOPE) Outreach—an organization that supports homeless and exploited women in downtown Kelowna and Vernon.

For a year and a half, Smith visited homeless shelters and downtown locations. There, using naloxone kits, she trained some of the most vulnerable populations how to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives. Naloxone, if used promptly, can reverse the effects of an overdose from narcotics such as fentanyl or OxyContin.

While volunteers made great strides in education and training in the downtown cores, Smith quickly realized the general public was still largely unaware of the risk factors and how they could potentially help in an emergency.

“Through conversations with family and friends, I recognized a huge knowledge gap still existed in our community,” says Smith. “Especially, considering the majority of opioid overdose deaths in BC happen to people living inside a private residence.”

Now in her second year of studies at UBCO, Smith recently launched Okanagan Naloxone Training as part of the Faculty of Medicine’s FLEX (flexible and enhanced learning) course.

In partnership with HOPE Outreach, Smith offers free naloxone training sessions to people, businesses and volunteer organizations in the Okanagan.

“There is still a large stigma associated with opioids and naloxone training,” says Smith. “In our workshops, we create a safe learning environment for people to ask questions, learn to recognize the signs of an overdose and practice with real equipment.”

Smith is organizing an event at UBCO on November 25. Each participant receives hands-on training, a certificate of completion and a free naloxone kit. This event is free and open to the public. To register, email: hello@oknaloxone.ca

For more information about Okanagan Naloxone Training, visit: oknaloxone.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca