“Dynamic and collaborative people” attracted Alison Rushton to Western; a global pandemic is keeping her from getting here. The new head of Western’s School of Physical Therapy officially began her new role June 1, but the former Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences professor at the University of Birmingham (U.K.) has been unable to travel to Canada due to travel restrictions around COVID-19. Despite that fact, she cannot wait to explore a university she has always seen as a research leader. “The Faculty of Health Sciences is seen as multidisciplinary and focused on health, disability and sport – a model of well-being rather than illness,” said Rushton, who takes over the role from acting director Jackie Sadi. “There are many examples of excellence in research and teaching within the school.” During her nearly 20 years at the University of Birmingham, Rushton has focused on understanding musculoskeletal and spine pain disorders when it comes to rehabilitation – with an emphasis on precision rehabilitation. “Interventions, such as exercise, need to be tailored to the individual patient,” Rushton said. “Precision rehabilitation takes into account the individual variability of each patient, including their physical and psychological factors, to tailor the intervention to their specific clinical presentation and needs.” Great to join dynamic and strong faculty at Western-looking forwards to working together and our new shared opportunities in the School of Physical Therapy pic.twitter.com/hdrZoTYb3N — Alison Rushton (@abrushton) June 1, 2020 This enables improved clinical and cost-effectiveness, she continued, as it identifies which patients to target with rehabilitation, along with the when and how. “Appropriate identification of patient-specific interventions are a major priority,” she said. With this in mind, Rushton oversaw the creation of the Centre of Precision Rehabilitation for Spinal Pain, while at Birmingham, to identify personalised management approaches for spinal pain. She is also a senior primary investigator for the National Institute for Health Research’s Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre in Birmingham. Rushton looks to hit the ground running in her new role, with plans to further develop research-informed teaching; a curriculum renewal to ensure innovative learning opportunities for students, and support for innovation and creativity within the school in order to increase research funding opportunities for faculty members. “I am ready for a new adventure and challenge. I feel my leadership can make a difference to the school,” Rushton said.
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