Manipal - McGill Research Collaboration (MMRC)

Grooup of 9 people standing for photo
Faculty members of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) with McGill University, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy Associate Dean and Director Laurie Snider OT, PhD and Caroline Storr OT, MBA (2020).

The early years 

The collaboration between the McGill University School of Physical and Occupational Therapy (SPOT) and the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) first began with the idea of a shared rehabilitation research project between Professors John Solomon PT, PhD (Manipal) and Mindy Levin PT, PhD (McGill SPOT) who met at a conference in 2010. This initial conversation eventually became the Virtual Reality Stroke Rehabilitation project and also brought in another rehabilitation science researcher, Philippe Archambault OT, PhD (SPOT) to this early group of collaborators as they studied the use of virtual reality interventions for stroke rehabilitation in India and Canada. 

Male wearing a device interacting with a fishing game on computer screen
Dataglove demonstration in the Virtual Reality Stroke Rehabilitation study, Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Canada (2011).

This quickly led to another project, Improving Rehabilitation Services through Evidence-Based Practice: Assessing Neurological Recovery, which focused on the reliability of a new, portable device (MSM) to measure spasticity in different clinical settings in both India and Canada. These two projects were funded by Grand Challenges Canada from 2012 to 2014.

The successful outcomes of these studies laid a solid foundation for a subsequent project looking at stroke recovery and brain plasticity, Enhancing Brain Plasticity for Sensorimotor Recovery in Spastic Hemiparesis (ENHANCE).  With the support of the International Development Research Centre of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Israeli Ministry of Health, and the Azrieli Foundation, this research is ongoing in three different locations: Canada (JRH, IRGLM), India (MAHE) and Israel (Tel Aviv University). 

Male and female seated, applying a strapped device to the study particpants arm
Participants located in Manipal, India, demonstrating the Enhancing Brain Plasticity for Sensorimotor Recovery in Spastic Hemiparesis study (2015).

From 2012 to 2019, multiple visits occurred between Manipal and McGill SPOT including both students and faculty. During this time, there was growing interest and discussion about formalizing the collaboration, as well as conversations with Dr Madhu Pai regarding the possibilities of building upon the Manipal-McGill Program for Infectious Diseases (MAP-ID). Starting in 2018, McGill Global Health Programs has supported shared activities between the Manipal College of Health Professions and McGill SPOT. 

Expanding research areas and collaborations 

In 2019, Professors Arun Maiya PT, PhD (Manipal), Matthew Hunt PT, PhD, Sébastien Jodoin PhD (McGill Law) and their team received funding through the Steinberg Fund for Interdisciplinary Global Health Research to pursue their work with persons with disabilities who experience a heightened risk of being harmed or wronged in situations of disaster or crisis. Specifically, this study looks at the experiences of persons with disabilities in Kodagu District, Karnataka State, India who have been affected by flooding and landslides, and where a disability-inclusive disaster response approach has been initiated. 

Several other research projects are currently being developed by teams from Manipal and McGill SPOT in the areas of pulmonary rehabilitation and telerehabilitation. 

In early 2020, the Manipal-McGill Rehabilitation Collaboration (MMRC), a collaborative agreement between the two institutions, was formalized through the signing of an Annex to the Manipal McGill Memorandum of Understanding during a visit by the SPOT Director and Associate Dean, Laurie Snider OT, PhD to Manipal Academy of Higher Education University. This important event was also an opportunity to celebrate past and ongoing collaborations between the two institutions and identify new ways of sharing expertise and learning from each other.

Dr Arun Maiya, Dean of Manipal College of Health Professions, Dr. Laurie Snider, Associate Dean and Director, School of Physical & Occupational Therapy and Dr. Raghu Radhakrishnan Director, International Collaborations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (2020).

Along with research activities, the now formal partnership also supports bilateral exchanges of faculty and students, new project seed funding, and shared knowledge exchange activities including symposia and webinars. Many of these events are made possible through the ongoing support of McGill Global Health Programs. 

Virtual presentations and symposia

In August 2020, Dr. Arun Maiya, Dean, Manipal College of Health Professions (MCHP), Professor, Dept. of Physiotherapy was the invited Lavigne-Smee Visiting Scholar at McGill SPOT. Each year, the invited Scholar addresses physical and occupational therapy Masters students and the clinical community at the annual Masters' project presentation on a timely topic of interest and inspiration. Dr. Maiya spoke virtually on the important role of rehabilitation in patients with COVID-19 and encouraged the students to be persistent as they head out into their clinical careers. View recording of the presentation here. (link to come)

In September 2020, the Clinician's Roadmap to Knowledge Translation, a McGill SPOT Continuing Profesional Development online learning module, was shared with one hundred and forty MAHE faculty and students.  A two-hour online debriefing with question and answer period provided an engaging space for over 70 attendees to pose questions on the implementation of knowledge translation into clinical practice.

In late October 2020, a Joint Symposium on COVID-19 and Rehabilitation was held by and for the two university programs. The 2-day event took place virtually with five presentations from each institution.

Over one hundred and forty students and faculty members watched presentations on a range of topics including, the alignment of country-level COVID-19 policies with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, authentic learning for clinical trainees within the context of COVID-19, the rapid expansion of telerehab and related considerations of accessibility and adaptability, attitudes towards mask-wearing during exercise, supporting child participation, hand rehabilitation, physical activity of stroke survivors during COVID-19, language accessibility and community participation, and the important role of rehabilitation for patients with COVID-19.

Following the presentations, Manipal and McGill faculty members alternated in moderating engaging discussion sessions among attendees and presenters opening yet another rich exchange of ideas, experiences, and research activities.

In November 2022, the third Manipal-McGill Rehabilitation Collaboration (MMRC) Rehabilitation Research Symposium took place virtually. Natasha Hassija, a Master's Student in the SPOT Rehabilitation Science program, wrote a detailed summary of the symposium.  

Seed Grant Competition

In February 2021, two teams were funded through the inaugural Manipal Seed Grant Competition.

  • A scoping review of family-centred occupational therapy (OT) intervention for dementia: A cross-country collaboration by Sebestina Anita Dsouza and Patricia Belchior (with Meena Ramachandran)
  • Digital health technology use and potential for people living with chronic diseases in low and middle-income countries: A synthesis of the evidence by Vinita A. Acharya and Sara Ahmed (with Zachary Boychuck, Mohammed AlKhaldi, Márcia Matos, Amar Nishad)

With funding provided by the McGill Global Health Programs, the MMRC launched this new seed grant competition in December 2020. The competition is offered to facilitate and mobilize collaborative research activities between faculty from the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Departments of MCHP, and faculty from SPOT.

If you have a comment, suggestion, or idea, please do contact the spotglobalhealth [at] (subject: Manipal%20McGill%20Research%20Collaboration%20) (SPOT Global Health Coordinator. )

group of 5 people standing with map in backgorund.
Mindy Levin PT, PhD with MAHE faculty members (2016)
Patient using virtual reality platform in the lab of John Solomon PT, PhD, Manipal (2019).

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