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Research at The Steadward Centre
for Personal & Physical Achievement

The Steadward Centre Research

Research is conducted across paradigms and domains according to the interests of undergraduate and graduate students, visiting undergraduate and graduate students, client requirements and the demands of the Adapted Physical Activity and Disability Sport area. The Steadward Centre research program is led by a full time Research Manager whose tasks are:

  • To conduct original/novel, relevant and meaningful research, the results of which may be used by the Centre in the provision of its various programs and for dissemination of knowledge through major research journals. 
  • To work with graduate students at the masters and doctoral level in the development of research ideas and questions, conducting various research projects, and assisting in the final production of theses.

To date, research by graduate students has been conducted in the domains of applied biological, biomechanical, psychological, sociological and health. The Research Manager also works with other colleagues and professionals, both inside and outside the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, on projects designed to explore and investigate specific problems in relation to health, fitness, lifestyle and increased independence for people with disability.

The concept of linkage in research is important at The Steadward Centre. Projects and findings are continually used to promote research in other disciplines. The development of the ROWSTIM II system - an FES rowing machine for spinal injured, is one example. This device represents an innovation in exercise technology for spinal cord injured and is a result of cooperation between a number of faculties, including Physical Education and Recreation, Industrial Design, and Mechanical and Bio-Medical Engineering. The device has been incorporated into a day-to-day clinical FES program at the Centre and commercial development in association with the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Technology.

The transferability and utility of information from research projects is an important outcome of research at The Steadward Centre. Recent work with multiple sclerosis clients and athletes with disability has greatly increased our understanding of the difficulties in making life transitions - from able bodied to disabled and from athlete to retired athlete. It has also demonstrated the crucial importance of all levels of physical activity in the daily lives of persons with disability. Furthermore, this work has led to the development of useful counselling tools and approaches.

An important feature of The Steadward Centre research programming is the involvement of students from abroad. Since 1991, the Centre has hosted a number of students from Western and Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom who have taken part in specific Centre projects or who have come to the Centre to conduct their own research or engage in specific writing projects.

Research Team

The research team is multi-disciplinary and includes physicians, psychologists, sociologists, biomechanists, athletic therapists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists.

Team members are:

  • Robert D. Steadward, Ph.D., Director - TSC
  • Garry D. Wheeler, Ph.D., (M.Ed.) C. Psych., Manager, Research - TSC
  • Rob Lederer, M.Des., Industrial Design, UofA
  • Rahman Davoodi
  • Brian Andrews, Ph.D., Medicine, Oxford, England
  • Justin Jeon, M.Sc., Graduate Student, U of A
  • William Gill, B.P.E., Manager, Programs - TSC
  • Ewen Nelson, B.Sc., Manager, Information Systems - TSC
  • Leighann Halland, Graduate Student, U of A

Other associated researchers include or have included:

  • Yagesh Bhambhani (UofA, Rehab. Medicine)
  • Robert Burnham (UofA)
  • Gordon Bell (UofA, Phys. Ed. & Rec.)
  • Jeff McCubbin (Oregon)
  • Ron Davis

Scope of TSC Research

Research Domains Past Present Future
Outcome Based - Health, Fitness, Lifestyle and Quality of Life Impact of retirement from disability sports on athletes with disability - adjustment issues. Perceived benefits of physical activity in persons with MS.

Direct and indirect costs of MS in active and sedentary individuals.

Application of theoretical modes of behaviour change on physical activity and lifestyle issues in persons with disability.

Continued research in the area of outcomes of health, fitness and lifestyle programs in persons with disability.
Applied Physiological responses of persons with disability to exercise stress and training program. Determining relative contribution of central and peripheral factors to increased oxygen consumption under hybrid exercise conditions in spinal injured using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Continuing research on impact of FES assisted exercise technologies on health-related fitness parameters.
Biomechanics 3 dimensional analysis of the free throw in wheelchair basketball.

Analysis of the swimming performance of B1, B2, B3 (visually impaired) athletes at the Paralympic Games.

Biomechanical analysis of a new adaptable wheelchair for sports use.

Biomechanical analysis of the gait in persons with cerebral palsy. Future studies in Biomechanical analysis of performance enhancing technology in athletes.

Biomechanical analysis of FES rowing technology.

Psycho-social Experiences of women athletes with disability. Perceived benefits of physical activity for persons with Multiple Sclerosis. Impact of physical activity programming and the Centre experience on health-related quality of life in persons with physical, intellectual and sensory impairment.
Clinical Autonomic Dysreflexia using functional electrical stimulation.

Attenuation of the Autonomic Dysreflexia effects of FES using surface anaesthesia.

Surface anaesthesia as a mechanism of providing FES services for persons with incomplete lower extremity paralysis. Applications of FES technology for rehabilitation.

Analysis of shear forces on skin integrity on FES rowing.

Technological Technological
Development of FES technologies:
* HYDRASTIM 1 (Prototype - Supported by AHFMR).
Development of ROWSTIM III:
* (Closed loop FES control rowing for SCI).
Commercialization of FES Technologies for SCI and other neuromuscular disease:
Industrial/ Co-operative Evaluation of new wheelchair design technologies:
* Better Made Wheelchair Co.
Development of ROWSTIM III with:
* Supercorp Inc.
* Body Point Designs Inc.
* Supported by AHFRM Technology Commercialization Fund.
Continued solicitation and cooperation with industry in development and assessment of biomedical and rehabilitative devices.


On March 24, 2001 The Steadward Centre Research Team presented three posters at the University of Alberta's Research Revelations 2001.  The poster titles are listed, and can be viewed by following the title links:

Subject Recruitment

The Steadward Centre is always looking for research subjects for varied and interesting studies.  Please contact Dr. Garry Wheeler (Phone 780-492-7158 or Fax 780-492-7161) for further information.

Visit Subject Recruitment page for more details on current projects.

All materials copyright: The Steadward Centre, 2000-2003.

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W1-67 Van Vliet Centre
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6G 2H9
Telephone: 780-492-3182
Telefax: 780-492-7161