Letter from the editors

By Dana Swarbrick & Dor David (Dory) Abelman 

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the summer edition of rehabINK. This issue contains articles on topics such as cognition and mental health, as well as reports from local and international conferences. It includes diverse perspectives from, and interviews with, students, researchers, professors and the Patient Ombudsman of Ontario, Christine Elliott.

Advocacy is a theme that connects many of the articles within this issue. Health advocacy is the method through which conditions of political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, behavioural and biological factors are made favourable for health promotion (1). At an international level, the World Health Organization (WHO) is advocating for increased access to rehabilitation, particularly within low-income countries. In “Scaling up Rehabilitation Worldwide with the New WHO Guideline: Is it enough?,” Adora Chui provides a critique of the recent guidelines the WHO developed to  strengthen the quality of global rehabilitation.

This past February, the WHO hosted  “Rehabilitation 2030: A Call for Action” to strategically plan the future of rehabilitation worldwide. Rehabilitation is an integral aspect of health care systems and needs to be treated as such with improved policies and funding allocation. High quality rehabilitation allows people to return to work sooner, contribute to society, experience greater quality of life, and prevent additional health crises. The WHO report suggested fostering collaborations between low-, middle-, and high-income countries and lobbying political support at municipal, provincial, and national levels of government (2).

Health advocacy also featured into the key address at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute’s (RSI) Research Day given by Christine Elliott, former member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly and Ontario’s first Patient Ombudsman (3-4). Her office advocates for fairness by addressing individual patient complaints, examining trends, and advocating for systemic change in Ontario’s health policies.

A commentary by RSI students advocates for an extended role of physical rehabilitation practitioners to identify and provide psychosocial supports to their patients, and improve continuity of care. The authors call for greater mental health training for physical therapists and other rehabilitation practitioners who traditionally do not provide mental health assessment and intervention.

The WHO’s “Call to Action” advocated for greater collaboration between rehabilitation stakeholders such as clinicians and researchers (2). We are privileged in RSI to have a number of researchers who were, or currently are, practicing clinicians. Clinician-researchers have the unique ability to see both sides of the knowledge to action process and can fill clinical implementation gaps by strengthening ties between clinicians and researchers. Our faculty contributor, Dr. Kara Patterson, is a researcher, physiotherapist, and the 2017 recipient of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association’s Innovation and Advancement Award. She discusses the rehabilitation benefits of dance for both movement and psychosocial outcomes in adults post-stroke.

The final two articles in this edition, though not closely aligned with the theme of advocacy, demonstrate the interdisciplinary scope of rehabilitation sciences. Our faculty profile highlights the life and career of Dr. Morris Moscovitch, a University of Toronto Psychology professor and one of the most prominent world researchers in memory and cognition. Dr. Moscovitch shares his own memories, and how his seminal work on memory have been applied in the clinic and to his own life. Finally, along with a cohort of interdisciplinary researchers, Ivona Berger, attended the  International Brain Injury Association Conference in New Orleans in March 2017 that included research on cognition, neuroimaging, development, and athletics. You can read more about it in Berger’s conference brief.

We hope that you find inspiration in the articles included in our summer issue of rehabINK. Be sure to view our updated diversity statement and submission guidelines, and to consider submitting to our next edition. While reading, we ask you to reflect on how health promotion, advocacy, and rehabilitation science impact your life and work. Please share your favourite articles with colleagues and friends to help us expand the reach of our online magazine. As a platform for discussion, we hope rehabINK will spur intellectual debate, particularly regarding practices and policies that impact the rehabilitation science community.


  1. World Health Organization. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion [internet]. First International Conference on Health Promotion, Ottawa, 21 November 1986. [cited May 9th, 2017]. Available from: http://www/who/int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en
  2. World Health Organization. Rehabilitation 2030: a Call for Action meeting report [Internet]. Geneva, Switzerland. 2017. [cited May 8th, 2017]. Available from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/care/Rehab2030MeetingReport2.pdf?ua=1
  3. Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Christine Elliott, MPP [Internet]. Past and Present Members. 2017 [cited 2017 May 7]. Available from: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_detail.do?locale=en&ID=7043
  4. The Canadian Press. Ontario appoints Christine Elliott as first patient ombudsman [Internet]. 2015. [cited 2017 May 8]. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-appoints-christine-elliott-as-first-patient-ombudsman/article27698505/
  5. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. About us – Knowledge Translation [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2017 May 7]. Available from: http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/29418.html