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Section of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

The Section of PM&R has 29 members working in diverse settings from tertiary acute care hospitals to community practice. Our practice focuses on the diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of patients with neurological conditions (e.g. brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke) and those with musculoskeletal problems (e.g. back pain, burn injuries, amputation). 

We serve the needs of both children and adults in Southern Alberta, Eastern British Columbia and Western Saskatchewan.  


  • Dr. Denise Hill was the President of the Alberta Physiatry Association for 2015-2016.
  • Dr. Vince Gabriel was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Burn Association in 2016. 
  • Dr. Gentson Leung took over as the new Residency Program Director.
  • Dr. Chester Ho was appointed as the Medical Director for Allied Health in the Community for the Calgary Zone in AHS.


  • Dr. Darren Chiu and Dr. Chris Huang joined our section in 2015 as clinical lecturers. Both graduated from the University of Alberta’s PM&R residency program in 2015 and are currently in community musculoskeletal and EMG practice.
  • Dr. Les LaPlante joined our section in 2015 as Clinical Assistant Professor. Dr. LaPlante graduated from our PM&R residency program and is currently in community musculoskeletal and EMG practice.
  • Dr. Serge Mrkobrada also joined our section in 2015 as Clinical Assistant Professor after graduating from our PM&R residency program. He is currently in community EMG practice.


  • Postgraduate medical education training – there are 10 residents in the PM&R program. We filled two first-year positions from the CaRMS match.
  • Both graduating residents (Dr. Daniel Miller and Dr. Janet Tapper) passed the Royal College exams, maintaining the 100 per cent pass rate for the PM&R residency program.
  • Dr. Noorshina Virani developed a spine education program in conjunction with the South Calgary Primary Care Network. This program provides ongoing education for primary care providers for spine care. 
  • Drs. Sean Dukelow, Chester Ho and Ken Lam sponsored the “Functional Electrical Stimulation Advanced Course – Use in Stroke and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation” at the Carewest Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre on March 5-6, 2016. This course brought in international experts in functional electrical stimulation in order to provide training for rehabilitation therapists in Southern Alberta. It was supported by the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation and the AHS President’s Excellence Award.
  • Dr. Chester Ho organized the “Functional Electrical Stimulation for Wound Healing” course at the University of Calgary on Feb. 21, 2016. This course provided training for treatment to be implemented by wound care providers in Calgary. It was funded by the HBI NeuroTeam in Spinal Cord/Nerve Injury & Pain.


  • After receiving visits and demonstrations from two exoskeleton manufacturers, the Ekso Robotics exoskeleton was selected for use in a clinical trial: Exoskeleton Use in Acute Rehab Post Spinal Cord Injury. Dr. Chester Ho is leading the study, which has support from Calgary Health Trust, the Cumming School of Medicine, the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, and the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation. The study is looking at the association between the use of wearable exoskeleton walking technology during the acute phase of SCI and any adverse effects. It is also collecting preliminary data about early standing and walking following SCI that may lead to further research.
  • Two of our section members are co-leads of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute’s NeuroTeams: Dr. Chantel Debert (Traumatic Brain Injury) and Dr. Chester Ho (Spinal Cord/Nerve Injury & Pain).

Clinical Care

  • The Spinal Cord Injury Acute Care team at Foothills Hospital successfully achieved a historic accreditation—organized jointly by Accreditation Canada and the Rick Hansen Institute. It is one of the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is now being used a blueprint for others.
  • The Early Supported Discharge program, for patients with acquired brain injury, saw its first patient enrolled in June 2015. This is an innovative clinical service delivery project that has been modeled after the early supported discharge program for patients with stroke. It has been very well received by both patients and their families, and was awarded a CMO Quality Improvement Award in 2016.
  • A Music Therapy trial was launched by Dr. Stephanie Plamondon on Unit 58 and is currently measuring the benefits for patients with brain injury and stroke.