Expanding and improving musculoskeletal (MSK) rehabilitation research through a coordinated Canada-wide network.



Scientific Study Title:

Canadian Musculoskeletal (MSK) Rehabilitation Research Network


Nominated Principal Investigator:

Joy MacDermid, BSc, BScPT, MSc, PhD, Distinguished Professor, School of Physical Therapy, Western University.


Co-Principal Investigators:

Catherine Backman – PhD, FCAOT, Senior Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada, Professor, Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, University of British Columbia Affiliated Researcher, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

Deborah A Marshall – PhD, Senior Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada; Arthur J.E. Child Chair, Rheumatology Outcomes Research; Canada Research Chair, Health Systems and Services (2008-18); Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary.

Start Date

January 2020


End Date

December 2024


Why do this research?

The most common disabilities in Canada are musculoskeletal (MSK) problems like arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, tendon injuries, and broken bones. These problems can lead to pain and movement problems and have a huge impact on individuals, families, and society through suffering, and loss of mobility and independence.

The Canadian MSK Rehab Research Network will expand and support research in this area through development of new teams, tools, and projects that fast-track high-quality research in a coordinated, Canada-wide effort.


What will be done?

The Canadian MSK Rehab Research Network will design new tools, such as online treatment programs and wearable technology (e.g., devices that measure physical activity) to create new therapy opportunities. We will then test the effectiveness of these therapies for contributing to pain-free mobility and work participation for Canadians.

We have established new funding and learning opportunities for trainees and developed plans that allow us to share clinical and scientific information across Canada. We will now build on this information and these partnerships to develop studies that need national networks to conduct powerful MSK research to enhance mobility, reduce pain, and improve quality of life.
We will bring together clinical centres and patient groups who will guide and develop large-scale national studies. This will create advanced knowledge using the skills and knowledge of our Network.


Who is involved?

Launched in 2016, the Canadian MSK Rehab Research Network brought together 100 people including researchers, collaborators and consumer (patient) groups. Since then, the Network has almost doubled the number of people involved, established research priorities, supported 17 preliminary studies, recruited 23 trainees, and created new teams.

The values of the Network that are part of our work include patient engagement, equity, working across disciplines and regions of Canadas, and meaningful training.


Who is on the research team?


Trevor Birmingham, MSc, PhD

Laurent Bouyer, BSc, PhD

Catherine Hofstetter, Patient Research Partner

Rebecca Moyer, BPHE, MPTP, PhD

Janet Ronsky, PhD, P.Eng., FCAE

Jean-Sebastien Roy, PT, PhD

Aliki Thomas, BSc, MEd, PhD


Funding Agency:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research