Faculty Project Proposals

Students are encouraged to express their interest to faculty members as quickly as possible and no later than Dec. 19, 2023.

Sarah Donkers – Project 1

Methods of priming the brain to enhance neuroplasticity are gaining interest in people with neurological conditions. Measures of neuroplasticity to help evaluate recovery include neurophysiological approaches like function near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). The details of this opportunity will be shaped based on student’s interest, but will include some data analysis of neuroplasticity measures (e.g. fNIRS data), some literature review, and the opportunity to participate in some data collection (e.g. using brain priming for individuals with neurological conditions).

Sarah Donkers – Project 2

High volume challenging practice of functional tasks is shown to promote neuroplasticity in individuals with neurological conditions. Supported mass practice is needed to develop new movement strategies and prevent learned non-use. Access to such services to improve balance and walking for people with neurological conditions is limited. The student for this project will be involved in our pilot of a community-based group class “balance bootcamp” for individuals living with neurological conditions.

Stacey Lovo

Access to ultrasound services is limited for patients in many rural and remote communities, leading to delays in diagnosis and adverse outcomes. Innovative solutions to increase access to ultrasound for rural and remote populations are needed. The overarching research question for this project is: can artificial intelligence (AI) provide guidance to help novice ultrasound users obtain diagnostic quality cardiac and abdominal ultrasound images?

Dr. Stacey Lovo, Dr. Scott Adams and Dr. Ivar Mendez are part of a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation Grant team implementing and evaluating telerobotic ultrasound in the rural community of Gravelbourg. The present system is being utilized for prenatal exams and abdominal concerns which are conducted real-time by a sonographer from Saskatoon. The Gravelbourg medical team requested help with an urgent need for a smaller diagnostic ultrasound for emergency use as well. The research team will use a a Caption Guidance ultrasound unit which will learn to provide diagnostic information through artificial intelligence. This will help to ensure better support for rural patients and health providers in abdominal or cardiothoracic emergencies. In Phase 2 of this COMRAD funded grant led by Dr. Lovo, a community needs assessment will help to identify preferences and needs for an AI-guided ultrasound unit.

The Master of Physical Therapy student will conduct semi-structured interviews with community members and health providers using zoom, and learn qualitative analysis techniques to analyze the responses. The student will also contribute to literature review and manuscript writing as a co-author. This project will help to inform future technical development and best practices around use of the AI-guided ultrasound unit. 

Steve Milosavljevic – Project 1

This research will be a 10 year update and continuation of previous work published in 2016 of 2013 Saskatchewan physiotherapy practice location.

This research will involve the student working with the supervisor in conjunction with Dr Tayyab Shah’s CHASR lab for the geospatial mapping of the 2023/24 physiotherapy practice location to determine the spatial accessibility of physiotherapy services across Saskatchewan. This research will allow for comparison to accessibility measures of 2013 data previously.

The student will gather practice location data from publicly available sources and appropriately prepare the data for mapping purposes. They will also work closely with the supervisory team to calculate spatial accessibility scores using GIS spatial methodology. With guidance from Dr Shah, the student will learn how to develop an interactive webmap displaying and disseminating research findings. The final will be presented in both poster and manuscript formats.

Steve Milosavljevic – Project 2

Recent evidence suggests altered cognitive function from exposures to occupational whole body vibration (WBV). High WBV is considered a potential contributor to micro-concussions. Ongoing research in our lab is observing cognitive decrements in an animal model of WBV exposure. Concussion in both humans and animals also demonstrates decrements in cognition. Preliminary research has identified protein markers in biospecimens consistent with concussion. Further investigations need to explore alterations to the global protein spectrum from exposure to WBV.

Prior to further lab experiments in an animal model the research team needs to identify what is current in the literature relative to protein expression in concussion and/or WBV. This research will involve the student working with Dr. Stephan Milosavljevic in conjunction with Dr. George Katselis (proteomics specialist) and his team in the Canadian Centre for Rural and Agricultural Health to firstly understand the concept of the adverse effects of WBV, and then create a structure and process to undertake a literature review to explore the evidence from these effects.  

With guidance from the supervisors and Health Sciences librarians, the student will then use a suite of library databases (e.g., Medline, Scopus, etc.) in a systematic manner to search for literature pertinent to the research topic, and then compile this into a report to be used as a resource for current and future laboratory-based investigations. The final report will be presented in both poster and manuscript formats.

Steve Milosavljevic – Project 3

Evidence suggests music is not only enjoyable, but it also has the potential to modulate pain. The supervisor has a considerable catalogue of downloaded research manuscripts that review and explore for this effect. However, the use of music in a therapeutic rehabilitation setting has not been thoroughly investigated.

Recent student-based research (2012) projects in New Zealand explored for the effect of laughter and nature documentaries that might act as potential distractors for perceiving the presence of experimental pain (ice water). Laughter demonstrated some beneficial effects on pain perception threshold in the NZ students’ pilot trial. Interestingly video-based distraction did not change pain perception.  However, laughter is not easily adapted to a clinical setting – but may be possible.

Given the latest digital technology (Spotify etc) music is readily adaptable to a clinical setting and there is there is a logical argument to introduce the patients own preferred music into the personal and clinical setting as potential for a targeted intervention for pain modulation. This needs some further exploration and thus the student will undertake a review of the current literature on the benefit of music for pain modulation and design a pilot study exploring for the effects of music on experimentally induced (cold) pain. Dr Teresa Paslawski will also provide collaborative supervision and guidance.

Sarah Oosman & Carrie Staveness

Changemakers unite!

We are excited to bring a “new-to-us”, innovative research project to the MPT student research stream in the SRS which emphasizes engaging MPT students as co-researchers and participants, in a practice of collective leadership’, within a Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) research project.

As many of us in the SRS are aware, we are on a quest to enhance, elevate, and transform how to integrate concepts of cultural humility, decolonization, reconciliation, equity, anti-oppression (and more!) within MPT teaching and learning spaces. These are weighted terms that mean different things for faculty/instructors and for students and there is often a disconnect with ‘how to’ actually do this work in the MPT classroom in ways that are meaningful, respectful, and relevant for all.

If you are interested and curious about applied and particpatory research, how to decolonize, transforn and reframe research practice that challenges traditional 'positivist-driven' ways of doing and knowing and if you are interested in applying a 'collective leadership' and student-engaged approach to research (basically working on a team and bringing your expereince, perspective, ideas and knowledge into the research realm), then this project is for you!