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(Photo L-R: Dr. David Pedlar, Dr. Stephanie Belanger, Col (Ret’d) Russell Mann, Dr. Deborah Norris, Ms. Shannon Hill, Dr. Heidi Cramm)

CIMVHR hosts its 9th annual Forum

Contributed by Dr. Heidi Cramm, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University

(Photo L-R: Dr. David Pedlar, Dr. Stephanie Belanger, Col (Ret’d) Russell Mann, Dr. Deborah Norris, Ms. Shannon Hill, Dr. Heidi Cramm)

The Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) is a university centre based within the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s. The only pan-national institute within the military, Veteran, and family health research international landscape, CIMVHR is a network of 43 Canadian academic members and 10 global affiliates, serving as the hub for research, relationships, and impact within the academic military, Veteran, and family health research community.

Last month, CIMVHR hosted its 9th annual Forum in Regina to a sold-out group of 550 registrants. The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, opened the conference and highlighted the shared risks and traumatic exposures public safety personnel, including firefighters, paramedics, emergency communication specialists, and police officers, have with those of serving military personnel. In fact, this year, we showcased a full stream of public safety research that complemented our core business of military, Veteran, and family health research. As Co-Chair of the Scientific Planning Committee with Dr. Nick Carleton of University of Regina, I am pleased to share that this was our most rigorous scientific programme yet, with the most abstracts submitted to date.

Highlights included our big data panel and our incredibly varied and talented plenary speakers. We were delighted to have Nora Spinks of the Vanier Institute of the Family moderate our big data panel, exploring ways in which big data is already providing value and impact in military, Veteran, and family health research through panelists, Drs. Cathy Boscarino, Lisa Patton and Alex Singer, representing defence science, industry, and clinicians. Dr. Benjamin Dunkley delivered his Banting presentation, “The ‘invisible’ injuries of PTSD: Current and future directions”, in a highly accessible and engaging way that will be talked about for years to come. On the eve of recreational cannabis being legalized in Canada, Dr. James MacKillop, Peter Boris Chair in Addictions Research and Co-Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre of Medicinal Cannabis Research, described the relative risks of cannabis for different health conditions. Finally, Col Cap, Chairman of Coagulation & Blood Research, US Army Institute of Surgical Research Hematology-Oncology Consultant to the US Army Surgeon General, emphatically reminded us all of the critical role military medicine has played over the past century in advancing best practice for everyone by addressing the ever-evolving challenges of battlefront medicine. This international expert synthesized the evidence that challenges the use of clear fluids and demonstrated the need for whole blood in addressing acute physical trauma.

One of the other events with which I have been intimately involved is our Student and Postdoctoral Engagement Committee (SPEC) Networking Event, which was again sponsored by one of our philanthropic partners, Wounded Warriors Canada. Organized by SPEC Chair and SRT’s recent doctoral graduate Dr. Linna Tam-Seto, the group was greeted by Wounded Warriors Canada representatives and the CIMVHR Fellows, including Drs. Tim Black, Don Richardson and Deborah Norris. SPEC is growing and developing as the interest in becoming a researcher in military, veteran, public safety, and family health is burgeoning. SPEC creates opportunities for peer mentorship as well as the development of national, international, and interdisciplinary relationships that will evolve into research teams for this cohort. With trainees coming from almost 20 universities and three countries, it was an inspiring event once again this year!

Another special connection to SRT—Dr. Tam-Seto was shortlisted for her doctoral work on cultural competencies for healthcare providers working with military families, which is quite an achievement. Her work will be incredibly useful in the newly announced Calian-CIMVHR-Military Family Services-Vanier Institute initiative, Innovation into Impact: Translating Military Family Health Research into Practice. This working group formed in an endeavor to improve knowledge translation of Canadian medical research to empower physicians and other healthcare professionals to make evidence-based decisions. This in turn will advance the healthcare experience and well-being of military family members.

Although Dr. Tam-Seto did not come away with the prize this year, second-year doctoral student Shannon Hill was part of a team that was awarded the Colonel Russell Mann Military Family Health Research Award, which recognizes high-quality Canadian research that increases our understanding of military and Veteran family health, for their project, Military Family Resilience/y: An environmental scan of programs and services. Dr. Deborah Norris of Mount Saint Vincent University presented at Forum on behalf of the team; this work has already been integrated into the Comprehensive Military Family Plan policy at the national level. 

Congratulations, Shannon!

Save the Date – CIMVHR Forum 2019 will be Oct 21-23 in Gatineau Ottawa!

For more information about CIMVHR, see www.cimvhr.ca or stop by 301 Kingston Hall.

If you are interested in finding out more about public safety personnel research, check out the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research & Treatment (CIPSRT) at www.cipsrt-icrtsp.ca.

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