Celebrating 100 Years of Physical Therapy with Rick Hansen

Rick Hansen Event Group PhotoThe much anticipated 100th Year celebration of University of Toronto’s Department of Physical Therapy was recently held at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel, with special guests Rick Hansen and his wife, Amanda Hansen. Rick Hansen was only 15 years old when he was left with a spinal cord injury following an accident. He is now the Founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation and is a strong advocate for people with disabilities in Canada. Not only is he a Paralympic athlete, he also completed his “Man in Motion” tour; a wheelchair trip around the world lasting two years. Rick and Amanda Hansen were joined by faculty members, past alumni, current students, clinicians, family and friends, all helping to celebrate the evening.

The Master of Ceremony, Dr. Darlene Reid, the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, paid tribute to the humble beginning of Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto, tracing it back to 1917 when the program was held at Hart House for many wounded veterans returning home from the First World War.

Amanda and Rick Hansen talking with Stephanie NixonRick and Amanda Hansen then spoke with Dr. Stephanie Nixon, a faculty member of the Department of Physical Therapy. Stephanie asked probing yet insightful questions about how Physical Therapy has impacted their lives. “My life has been dramatically impacted in a positive way by many physical therapists,” Rick Hansen said. He continued, “physical therapy is a vital discipline that improves physical function and enables individuals to maximize their potential’’. As Rick Hansen’s physical therapist for the Man in Motion tour, Amanda Hansen explained how the tour shaped her experience and gave her a new appreciation for the field.

Lastly, at the culmination of the event, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation jointly announced a generous donation to support spinal cord injury research at the University of Toronto by supporting a two-year post-doctoral fellowship. This donation was a memorable gift for the Department of Physical Therapy’s 100th year celebration.