Drs. Dina Brooks and Sunita Mathur Receive CIHR Project Grants

Department of Physical Therapy professors win Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) funding.

When Dr. Brooks and Dr. Mathur each applied to CIHR back in March, they had a 13% chance of winning funding. Their submissions, which underwent a stringent peer review process, were selected out of 3,819 proposals.

“I am so pleased to have been selected from thousands of strong applications”-Dr. Brooks

Dr. Brooks’ study will involve a randomized controlled trial of balance training for fall reduction in individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). “People living with COPD have problems with their balance and a high incidence of falls” explains Dr. Brooks. “The purpose of my study is to investigate the effect of a balance training program on falls in patients with COPD enrolled in a respiratory rehabilitation program.”

throwing ballThree hundred and twenty patients with COPD who reported problems with their balance or falling in the last two years will be randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. The treatment group will receive balance training along with their usual respiratory rehabilitation program. The control group will receive only the respiratory rehabilitation program. “My method is to record falls at 12 months using monthly fall diary calendars. We will also test patients’ balance and strength, and administer questionnaires on confidence, physical activity and daily functioning” says Dr. Brooks. “This study will determine if balance training reduces the rate of falls in people with COPD.”

Dr. Mathur’s study will evaluate sarcopenia in solid organ transplantation. Sarcopenia is a condition of losing muscle mass that is observed with advanced age (typically over 70 years old), and is associated with poor outcomes such as greater illness, loss of independence and early death. Dr Mathur’s study proposes that pre-transplant sarcopenia may be an indicator of how well transplant recipients recover after their surgery, and that sarcopenia may help to predict their long-term outcomes.

“In people waiting for a transplant, who tend to be younger and have a progressive chronic disease, measurements of sarcopenia have not been explored” says Dr. Mathur. “Our study aims to identify which measures of sarcopenia can predict early outcomes after organ transplantation, and to identify a biomarker of sarcopenia in these patients.” The results of this study will determine the best measures of sarcopenia that can be applied in patients undergoing a transplant as part of their pre-transplant clinical evaluation. The study will also help to inform potential therapies to improve sarcopenia before transplant.