Rehabilitation Sciences

The Rehabilitation Sciences graduate program is a collaborative program between the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Department of Physical Therapy. Faculty members bring together their wide range of research interests to provide an enriched learning environment. A variety of research methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, are conducted with rigour, and publishing is strongly encouraged.

This program offers four different Master’s programs as well as a PhD program. The Master’s programs include Master of Science (M.Sc.), Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT), Master of Physical Therapy (MPT), and an online Master of Rehabilitation Sciences (MRSc).

The PhD program is governed by the general requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy as described by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. A thesis-based Master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences, or other related fields of study along with appropriate undergraduate and graduate courses are normally equired for admission. Each student is required to take RHSC 500 and RHSC 502 as part of their program of study. Other electives are available as well. All candidates are required to complete a written and oral comprehensive examination after completion of all course work. Following the comprehensive examination, the student will present a formal thesis proposal for approval by the candidate’s committee before proceeding to the research which will culminate in a formal thesis defence. The major requirement of the PhD is completion of a research thesis demonstrating the ability to conduct significant and original scientific research.

Graduates of Rehabilitation Sciences programs go on to become research scientists, clinical scientists, and consultants to government, health authorities and other organizations with interests in rehabilitation.


Selected Recent Publications

Hsu CL, Nagamatsu LS, Davis JC, and Liu-Ambrose T. Examining the relationship between cognitive function and falls risk in older adults: A systematic review. Osteoporosis International. (in press)

Simpson LA, Miller WC, Eng JJ. Effect of stroke on fall rate, location and predictors: A prospective comparison of older adults with and without stroke. PLoS ONE 6(4):e19431.

Borich MR, Wadden KP, Boyd LA. Establishing the reproducibility of two approaches to quantify white matter tract integrity in stroke. Neuroimage. 2012 Feb 1;59(3):2393-400.


Student Profiles

Niousha Bolandzadeh: Niousha Bolandzadeh is a second-year PhD student, supervised by Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose in Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She started her PhD at UBC in 2010, after completing her M.Sc. degree in Computer Science (University of Alberta). She is the recipient of Heart and Stroke Foundation PhD award (focus on stroke), as well as neuroimaging memorial awards of “Louise McGregor” and the “Omer Patrick II Memorial Prize”.

Niousha’s PhD research focuses on investigating the effect of targeted exercise training on cognitive function of older adults diagnosed with MCI. She is also interested in finding the association of total volume of white matter lesions with cognition. Her technical interests include Medical Imaging, Machine Learning and Statistical Modelling, and her clinical interests include Alzheimer’s Disease and White Matter Lesions. She has worked with different imaging modalities including fMRI, MRI, CT, CBCT, and Photogrammetry.

Debra Field: Debbie Field is in her third year in the PhD Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences. Debbie is an occupational therapist at Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children in Vancouver who has clinical expertise in assistive technology. She is now developing her research skills further under the supervision of Dr. Bill Miller, professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She is the recipient of a CIHR Fellowship Award and a Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation scholarship award. She has started recruiting for the first of two studies that will address development of a toolkit of assessments related to participating in everyday activities for children with chronic mobility limitations that necessitate the use of power wheelchairs and other power mobility devices.

Participation in everyday activities such as taking care of oneself, contributing to family life, learning, or playing with friends helps children learn and develop, promotes independence in preparation for adulthood, and contributes to well-being and quality of life. Different assessments measure different elements of participation in everyday activities, and although there are several measurement tools developed to assess the ICF component of participation for children with physical disabilities, it is not known how appropriate these tools are for children with significant mobility limitations.

The results of her research will inform stakeholders on the best way to measure participation in everyday activities for children who use power mobility. The toolkit will support therapists and families in making decisions about power mobility prescriptions for children, and contribute to the research evidence on effectiveness of power mobility interventions.

Hana Al-Bannay: Hana is in her fourth year of the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences. She is working on completing the work of her dissertation, “Improving the Health of Saudi Women through Lifestyle Education Program with Special Reference to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus,” under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Dean (Physical Therapy) and two other co-supervisors, Dr. Lyn Bongloed (Occupational Therapy) and Dr. Tal Jarus (Occupational Therapy). To collect data for her PhD studies, she completed two field works in Saudi Arabia, where she is originally from. The first field work she did was to collect questionnaire surveys from Saudi women in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in order to study Saudi Muslim women’s health beliefs, behaviors, knowledge, and the relationship between their health beliefs and behaviors with the traditions of Islam. The second field work she did was to launch an education program related to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus for women and to take pre and post-program measurements and evaluations. Hana’s interests in health and culture stem from her diverse background, two BAs (English and Sociology), and a Masters in Professional Intercultural Communication.

Liang Hsu: Liang Hsu is a 2nd year student in the M.Sc. Rehabilitation Sciences program, and is working in the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory of Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose. The lab focuses on examining the role of exercise and physical training to improve health in older adults. Liang’s research targets the problem of seniors falling, and revolves around studying various aspects of fall risk factors. Specifically, he is currently investigating the differences in brain functional connectivity between senior fallers and non-fallers through neural imaging data acquired by functional magnetic resonance. The application of this work extends to understanding the underlying neural basis of senior falling and provides evidence to supplement current fall prevention strategies.