Colleen O'Connell

Colleen O’Connell, MD, FRCPC

Staff Physiatrist/Research Chief,
Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, Fredericton, NB
Adjunct Professor, Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation,
Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University and Faculty of Kinesiology,
University of New Brunswick

Website | Email | Publications

Tel: (506) 447-4294

Research

Rehabilitation in spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis

Dr. Colleen O’Connell is testing new solutions for problems that plague people with spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and other neurologic disorders. These include severe muscle spasms in the legs that make walking difficult to impossible, pressure ulcers from sitting too long, and chronic neuropathic pain. Ultimately, she aims to help people recover more of their functional abilities for happier, healthier, more independent lives.

Dr. O’Connell is involved in numerous studies, funded by such agencies as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Spinal Cord Injury Solutions Network, to:

  • see if FES-cycling reduces lower-limb spasticity in people with spinal cord injury (this technique applies electrical current to the skin to stimulate the muscles enough to pedal a stationary bicycle)
  • test the effectiveness of drug therapies in improving walking ability in people with spinal cord injury and MS
  • assess the feasibility of an Internet clinic for treating/preventing pressure ulcers
  • test FES and exercise training in restoring upper limb function in people with sub-acute spinal cord injury


Dr. O’Connell is also working with the UNB Institute of Biomedical Engineering on three Atlantic Innovation Fund-supported projects to monitor disease status by evaluating movement and biometric data in clinical and home-based settings.

As a member of the Mobility Project, Dr. O’Connell collaborates with fellow physiatrist Dr. Christine Short. She also works with pain specialist Dr. Mary Lynch and research engineers, Drs. Milos Popovich and Arthur Prochazka. She maintains active collaborations with numerous colleagues across Canada.

Academic background

Colleen O’Connell’s received a B.Sc. in chemistry at St. Francis Xavier University, before heading to the Harvard University Institute for International Development in Thailand. She began her medical training at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed it with a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation in Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. In 2000, Dr. O’Connell joined the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton, NB. She holds faculty appointments in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine and the University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Kinesiology. She is the founder of Team Canada Healing Hands, which provides volunteer rehabilitation care and education in Haiti and other under-resourced areas.

Selected Publications

O’Connell, C. Chronic Pain: Tom’s Agonizing Feet. The Canadian Journal of CME, February 2007, 21-24.

O’Connell, C. Differentiating Between Cannabis-Based Drugs. Pain Point, Vol. 1 No. 1 Spring 2005, pgs 6-7

O’Connell, C. On Being a Fan. Alignment. Spring 2005, pages 32-33.

O’Connell, C. Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Alignment 04, pages 38-40.

O’Connell, C. Amputation in Mozambique: Access and Impact of Physical Rehabilitation. Alignment 03, pages 30-34.

O’Connell, C. Rehabilitation in the Outfield (Fall, 2002) and Back from the Field, Reflections from Home (Winter 2003), CAPM&R newsletter

O’Connell, C. The aftermath of war: in the minefields of Mozambique. CMAJ 12 Dec. 2000; 163(12