From May 31 to June 2, various stakeholders came together to spark the conversation on functional electrical stimulation (FES) in an effort to create meaningful connections to address the barriers and facilitators to FES participation, initiate the development of standardized FES protocols and generate participant and practitioner driven research questions. The conference garnered interest from a wide range of individuals from Alberta and across Canada, including researchers, FES participants and practitioners, clinicians, and students.
On Thursday, May 31, we kicked off the conversation with an enlightening keynote from Dr. Arthur Prochazka on Neuroprostheses: A Brief History. Following his address, we gathered over wine and cheese to form new connections and friendships and share our mutual passions for FES, and its many applications.
Friday morning commenced with a delicious breakfast, followed by a number of exceptional speeches ranging from FES garments to FES implants. The broad scope of FES application is truly amazing. Next we heard from a variety of individuals regarding how to enhance the accessibility and use of FES in the community. Each representative offered a unique perspective based on their experience in the field, ranging from individuals working in Vancouver, British Columbia to Fredericton, New Brunswick. We also had the pleasure of hearing from one of our main sponsors and president of the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre (Northern Alberta) Society, Louise Miller, on the implementation of FES cycling in Alberta.
Following lunch, Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis drew us in with an inspirational and informative presentation, Promoting Physical Activity after Spinal Cord Injury: From Guidelines to Practice. In her address, Dr. Martin Ginis shared with us her experience developing physical activity guidelines for individuals living with spinal cord injury. We hope this presentation will be helpful for all individuals with a passion for standardizing FES – the process of developing these guidelines may provide a foundational starting point to the development of FES guidelines in the near future. Dr. Kathleen Martin Ginis’ keynote address was a perfect transition into the panel session on developing standardized recommendations and protocols for FES exercise. With the engagement of everyone in the audience, the session ended with an optimistic starting point to developing FES guidelines.
We finished off Friday night with delicious food and drinks at one of Edmonton’s top restaurants, Biera of Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company.
Saturday morning all individuals with lived experience jumped into another panel session to break down the barriers and facilitators to FES and active healthy living for individuals experiencing disability. Each panel member shared insightful and valuable observations and recommendations related to FES use. This session was extremely enriching and set the tone for the remainder of the conference.
After the panel session, Dr. Kristin Musselman delivered The Dr. Richard B. Stein Annual Lectureship: Three Strategies to Influence the Future of FES in Neurorehabilitation. Dr. Musselman described her experiences using FES in neurorehabilitation. Her keynote was powerful and inspiring, demonstrating the numerous way FES participation can positively influence the lives of individuals living with impairments, as well as the lives of their loved ones. The conference wrapped up with a final session on the future implications of, and moving forward with, FES and active healthy living promotion.
Throughout the conference we learned about the history of FES, pushed the boundaries on the “function” in functional electrical stimulation, discussed the development and delivery of FES programs, increased our knowledge on developing standardized recommendations, particularly those pertaining to FES exercise, broke down the barriers and facilitators to FES participation, and closed with a remark on how to move forward following our conversation. We are so thankful for the genuine engagement from all of the conference delegates-- thank you for your willingness to share your experiences, knowledge, and expertise related to FES.
When we initially planned this event we never imagined that as many people were as passionate about FES for individuals experiencing disability as we are at the University of Alberta. The conference was inspiring and informative and gives us hope for the future of FES. On behalf of The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement and The Human Neurophysiology Laboratory at the University of Alberta, we would like to thank you for your attendance and participation in CanCon 2018. Although the conference has ended, let this not be the end of the conversation. Let this conference mark the first of many conversations as we collectively work towards increasing the application and accessibility of FES and its use over a variety of settings. Moving forward, let’s continue the conversation to break down the barriers that individuals experiencing disability face when accessing FES, let’s develop standardized FES exercise protocols so that more practitioners may deliver programming, and let’s continue to explore through our research ways to enhance and expand the quality of delivery and technology of FES.
Lastly, we must give one final acknowledgement for the tremendous generosity of our presenting sponsors, SCITCS and their President, Louise Miller; the Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation; The Faculty of Rehabilitation Science; UROMedical; Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute; and Campus Alberta Neuroscience. We are grateful for your support in starting A Canadian Conversation about FES.