It brings me such joy and pride to watch the amazing and inspiring athletes at the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As an avid sports fan, I’m cheering on Canada’s para ice hockey team. And as a biomedical engineer, I also have a fascination with how para athletes perform and how I can help to make them better.
Many years ago, when I played on a men’s recreational hockey team, a good friend and my linemate had an accident off the ice that left him a paraplegic. As he lay in the hospital bed, I introduced him to the local para ice hockey coach to show him there was something to look forward to—he could still play hockey.
As his rehab went on through the years, my friend took his para hockey skill level from requiring a pusher to being a goal scorer. A pusher is an able-bodied skater who pushes the para hockey player, allowing them to become involved in community level games.
His upper body mobility returned. It was inspiring to watch. My friend’s life-changing accident became something that would also change mine.
Over the years, I have coached many hockey schools and teams. My love for hockey has inspired my research in engineering and science and allowed my research to blossom. I have focused my career on the biomedical and biomechanical analysis of skating—rehab, performance enhancement, injury prevention, and sport development.