Dr Vanesa Bochkezanian
Dr Vanesa Bochkezanian received a 2019 Travel Grant to attend the 58th ISCoS Annual Scientific Meeting held in Nice, France. Vanesa is a lecturer in Neurological Physiotherapy based at CQ University in Queensland, Australia, and has a background as a physiotherapist working in rehabilitation settings in Argentina and Australia.
Vanesa specialises in developing better physiotherapy interventions to people with stroke and spinal cord injury, and said that attending ISCoS has been a highlight of her research career for many reasons.
“Firstly, I had the opportunity to present a poster and strengthen my research collaborations with Dr Ashraf Gorgey, who is the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury Research, Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Centre, Spinal Cord Injury & Disorders Service in the USA, and Dr Nazirah Hasnan, who is the Consultant Rehabilitation Physician, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya in Malaysia. This research poster presented the applications of electrical stimulation to improve musculoskeletal health and restore locomotion in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). This poster attracted the interest of many ISCoS delegates and attendees, who downloaded the electronic version of this poster on their mobile phones 43 times during the 1-hour exhibit period on 6th November 2019. As a result of this poster, Dr Ashraf, Dr Nazirah and I are planning to present a research workshop at the 2020 ISCoS in Japan.
Secondly, I was fortunate enough to attend the SRI Early Career Researcher Breakfast which was an outstanding opportunity to exchange ideas with other international early career researchers and connect with more experienced researchers. This meeting allowed me to exchange ideas and plan future research projects with early career researchers, such as Nishu Tyagi, a researcher and clinician from India, and Dr Mohit Arora from The University of Sydney, and with more experienced researchers, such as Prof Graham Creasey and Prof Kim Anderson. As a result, we created a group with the intention to replicate in Australia and India a validated questionnaire developed by Prof Kim Anderson in Canada about nerve stimulation for neurogenic bladder and bowel dysfunction in people with SCI.
The SRI lunch workshop From concept to practical application: meaningful consumer engagement in SCI research shed a light into the importance of engaging those with lived experience in the research process. This workshop made me realise the value of consumer engagement that can facilitate the practical application of research outcomes. This is particularly important when developing future research projects using electrical stimulation in paralysed muscles that can have a positive impact in the quality of life of people with SCI. As a result, I will start implementing consumer engagement in my future research projects in people with SCI.
In conclusion, the SRI travel grant has provided me the immense opportunity to not only be up-to-date with the latest research in the SCI area, collaborate and interchange ideas with international researchers and learn about the importance of community engagement in the research process, but it also provided me with tangible opportunities to advance my research career, which will eventually have a valuable and positive impact on those living with a spinal cord injury.