Is the Cochlear Implant a Cure or a Cultural Cleansing?

The market of assistive technologies has expanded dramatically in recent years. More and more researchers, engineers, and rehabilitation experts collaborate to build technologies that help enable people with disabilities. However, when we look at the statistics, 70% of all assistive technologies are not being used at all, or being used for a very short time. Why is that? Would disabled people not want to use devices that supposedly help them to overcome their disabilities? The answer to these questions is more complex than one might think, as the case of the ongoing debate over the use of cochlear implant demonstrates.

The Controversy

The cochlear implant is a small electronic device that is surgically implanted into the skull and inner ear,  substituting for the damaged parts of the inner ear, with an external piece worn behind the ear. In contrast to hearing aids that amplify sounds in the environment, the cochlear implant functions as an integral part of the inner ear, by sending signals to the brain (see picture).

For the enabled person, it is easy to see the advantages of a cochlear implant. This device can help deaf people to communicate with others, which eventually may lead to a better and easier integration into society. However, many people in the deaf community reject this product for several reasons. First, the Deaf community believes that there is nothing wrong with being deaf, so we should not try to “fix something that isn’t broken.” Second, some deaf people consider their hearing disability to be an integral and important part of their identity, so taking away their deafness will take away an important part of who they are. Third, some deaf people see themselves as a subculture in society, with their own language (sign language), and set of beliefs and values. Many people in the deaf community believe that implementing the device, especially in the younger generation, will eventually cause their unique culture to disappear, as young people will not learn or use sign language as a means of communication. Watch and learn more about the different sides of the Cochlear Implant Debate.

What I have learned

When I first heard about the cochlear implant, I thought that it was a great idea and that every deaf person would love to have this device, but I was wrong. (more…)

Seizing the Opportunity: A Placement in India

Brittany Myhre (left) with her supervisor, Harsha Babani, and others after a training seminar in Amar Seva Sangam, in Tamil Nadu, India.

As part of the Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, each student is required to complete 4 clinical placements to gain clinical experience, and put our classroom knowledge into practical application.  When the opportunity to apply for an international placement came up, I seized it and  was fortunate to be granted a chance to participate in an 8-week stage in Tamil Nadu, India.

The host organization, Amar Seva Sangam (ASSA) is located in a very rural portion of Southern India and is a non-profit organization, serving children in its early intervention school, a special school for children with learning, intellectual or physical disabilities, an in-patient spinal cord rehabilitation unit, vocational training, in addition to an integrated school system, where children from the community can also attend. Most of the services are offered free of charge, which allows the families living within the surrounding communities to attend to their children’s needs without concern to their already often precarious financial situations.

I was nervous about how I would adapt to a setting that is low-resourced by Canadian standards, and ensuring that I would be culturally humble and sensitive to the needs of those I was working with. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what “should” be, rather than what the situation or individual may desire or need. I was put to ease the first day after a conversation with my supervisor and my fellow students over differences in terminology; it was refreshing and challenging for me to address my own assumptions and I believe that helped set the trend for the rest of our stage.

I worked in the early intervention program with young children and traveled  into the surrounding rural villages to work with families who were unable to travel to the ASSA centre. I worked along side the Village-Based Rehabilitation Initiative workers (VBRI staff), a group of extremely intelligent and strong women, often who were special educators. These women visited the children each week and were invaluable to providing insights to the children’s condition and development, family dynamics and needs, and translation services. The families we visited were often living in extreme poverty and unable to afford the bus fare, and their children were sometimes too fragile to navigate public transit. Being confronted with an entirely different way of being was humbling, to say the least.

To ensure that our interventions were sustainable, a large point of reflection prior to, throughout and after my stage, ASSA and the head of VBRI engaged myself and my supervisor to train the VBRI staff to administer the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), as a way of setting family goals and monitoring their child’s performance and their own satisfaction with the child’s progress.

It was inspiring to see how a measure we used in our first week of the program and endlessly throughout our classroom courses, could be applied in such a variety of contexts. Despite challenges of language and cultural practices, families were able to set goals for their children and it proved to be a success! Knowing that the COPM will be applied to ensure treatments are family focused and can be a self-sustaining initiative was so rewarding for us all.

My time in India was challenging, rewarding, heart-breaking and inspiring; everything and more than I could have imagined. I feel so honored to be a part of the projects, and realize that my privilege as a Western master’s student (among other privileges afforded to me) played a heavy role in my experience to go to India in the first place. I hope to honor the families, staff and those we met in passing by taking the lessons and growth I had during my time at ASSA and applying them to my future practice and life. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!

Brittany Myhre
Occupational Therapy Master’s Student





Keeping up with Anthony Teoli at

I graduated from McGill University with a Professional Master’s in Physical Therapy in October 2016. I now work at a private clinic in Montreal and recently developed, a free information resource for both patients and health professionals. All the content on this website is written by myself. Physiotherapy is an evidence-based profession, and knowledge translation is a crucial part of the advancement of the physiotherapy profession. It is something I have always been keen on.

Read recently posted article “What Is Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome & How Do I Manage It?”

Google allows patients to have access to all the information they could possibly want. However, it may not always be the “right” information. I wanted to provide them with legitimate and valid information that can be backed up by the scientific literature.

The mission of is to promote evidence-based practice among health care professionals, and to inform the general population regarding injury prevention and management, exercise prescription and healthy living. As well, physiotherapists and patients can discuss any evidence I have presented, or even suggest a topic they would like to know more about. The website also features an online library with the latest publications from the scientific literature. has greatly evolved since it was launched last December. It now features 25 articles covering a large variety of topics and content is added weekly.  In March alone, the website has already received more than 6500 views!

Anthony Teoli, PT

My next step would be to begin collaborating with other physiotherapists, particularly those who specialize in different fields such as pelvic floor or paediatrics, among others. is continuously in expansion. I look forward to what the future has to offer and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you are interested in helping me make a difference!

Anthony Teoli, MScPT

Website link :


Influence of Exercise on Patients with Guillain-Barré Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Two of the group members: N. Simatos Arsenault and P-O. Vincent. Photo: S.C. Marshall

Sometimes, a school assignment can become more than just an assignment.

While in our physiotherapy (PHTH 440) course, our group completed a literature review on the effects of exercise on patients with Guillain-Barré Syndrome as a class assignment.

Our professor, Dr. Marc Roig encouraged us to expand our horizons and attempt to have the assignment become a published article. After about a year and a half of constructive peer reviews from journal editors and having made various modifications, our article was finally published!

Our continued efforts throughout the entire writing and reviewing process paid off and we feel honored to now view our endeavor next to the work of distinguished writers, including some of our current and past professors.

We all appreciate that the SPOT faculty encourages its students to grow beyond conventional paths through diverse opportunities that enable the development of better clinicians.

We have learned a lot through this experience and  hope to continue to develop and grow our professional networks through such opportunities.

In September 2016, we received our final confirmation that our article would be published as part of Volume 68 Issue 4 of the Physiotherapy Canada journal. We were proud and thrilled to hear the news! Read the article here.

Our team,

Pierre-Olivier Vincent, Nicholas Simatos Arsenault, Bai He Shen Yu, Robin Bastien, Aaron Sweeney, and Sylvia Zhu
SPOT Physiotherapy Students

Link to article:


New Global Health Coordinator at McGill SPOT

AnikGHRIblogAnik Goulet, PT

My journey to the School of Physical & Occupational Therapy (SPOT) has not been a simple one but one that I’d like to share with you.

My story starts with the University of Ottawa, where I graduated with a BSc in Physiotherapy- was yet to be a Masters at that point!.  I returned to work in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, where I grounded my clinical skills working with an adult population in acute care hospitals, home care and a private clinic. Having enjoyed being a clinical preceptor for over 5 years, I chose to  return to school and complete a Master’s in Education at the University of Ottawa.

It was on January 10th, 2010, while I was teaching at la Cite Collegiale, that I was very emotionally affected by my Haitian students who were devastated  by an earthquake that was happening in their native country. That was the day I told myself that if I could do something to help, I would. And, I did.

My life changing adventure began soon after, in Haiti. I worked in Haiti as a physiotherapist, which eventually lead to working in Afghanistan as a Physiotherapy Supervisor, to Kenya as a Technical Advisor, back to Haiti as a Rehabilitation Coordinator and finally to Lebanon/Jordan to work as a Technical Unit Coordinator for the Syrian refugee situation.  I lived many humbling experiences on these adventures which have brought much insight and reflection to my work and personal life. The desire to continue contributing to the global health sector in my home country has brought me to SPOT to pursue a PhD in Global Health and Rehabilitation.

I am delighted to join the new Global Health Research Initiative (GHRI) at SPOT  in the position of SPOT Global Health Coordinator.  My tasks will include, organizing the monthly Global Health Forum to bring together those interested in rehabilitation and global health for stimulating presentations and dialogue sessions, supporting global health activities at SPOT and liaising with students, faculty, clinicians and other partners interested in the area of rehabilitation and global health.

If you are interested in the work of the GHRI or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.