New centre promotes rehab exercise and research


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”K. Martin, N. McCartney, A. Hicks and J. Starkes”]With the snip of scissors, representatives from the Department of Kinesiology and various stakeholder groups officially opened the new McMaster Centre for Health Promotion & Rehabilitation on Monday, May 29.

Janet Starkes, chair of the department, explains that the centre provides opportunities for researchers “to study the role of exercise in the rehabilitation of special needs groups.” McMaster University is one of only five international centres with this kind of facility, she adds.

Located in the Ivor Wynne Centre, in what was formerly the Rose Hill Dance Studio, the area resembles a fitness club with its vast array of exercise equipment. However, it also has analytical and measuring devices, and new research labs for molecular biology and health psychology. It is the only exercise research facility in North America to have two body weight support treadmills which are used in the rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injuries.

Two groups currently use the space: the 150-member MacTurtles, a cardiac rehabilitation group that has been meeting at the University for 20 years, and the 10-year-old MacSeniors group, which now boasts 250 members.

While these individuals use the equipment for exercises geared to their particular needs, they also act as subjects in the various research projects being conducted by kinesiology professors. The newest of these is the Woodway Spinal Cord Injured Rehabilitation Program under the direction of associate professor Audrey Hicks. Participants will be known as the MacWheelers.

Alan Harrison, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, says the centre will provide a number of benefits to the department's researchers and students. “It will have an impact on our PhD program and has already permitted us to recruit additional exercise physiologists. It will help provide research material for our graduate students while at the same time providing a service to the public. It's a wonderful opportunity for the Faculty and for the department.”

Funding for the $1.2-million centre was provided by the Onderdonk Trust (Department of Athletics & Recreation) along with matching funds from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research & Development Challenge Fund (now the Ontario Innovation Trust).

Photograph: McMaster researchers affiliated with the new centre (left to right): Kathleen Martin, Neil McCartney, Audrey Hicks and Janet Starkes.