Innovation Award: Dr. Dalton Wolfe

For more than 30 years, Dr. Dalton Wolfe has been conducting innovative research to improve mobility for those who are facing long-term injuries, such as spinal cord and brain injuries. He is being recognized with the 2022 Lawson Innovation Award for this work.

“We want to help people impacted by these conditions right now, developing innovations that can immediately be implemented into patient care,” says Dr. Wolfe, Lawson Scientist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute. 

Dr. Wolfe’s team has modelled their work to focus on patient-centered research and implementation science.

“We have worked closely with different fields to create a new vision. We are engaging different scientists, frontline clinicians and persons with lived experiences to work together to help shape how we operate and how we approach research and patient-centered care.”

One of the most recent studies surrounds a new tool for those living with a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) called MyBrainPacer™ App. The app is an online tool that tracks and assigns values to everyday tasks such as driving, grocery shopping and exercising to help users pace their daily activities. The user is then given a total number of points per day that will keep their mTBI symptoms in a safe range. 

People using My Brain Pacer App

Optimizing treatments for individual patients has also been an important initiative for Dr. Wolfe, who leads Lawson’s Research 2 Practice (R2P) program, located at Parkwood Institute. The R2P team is guided by the overarching philosophy of health learning systems through clinical, education and research integration. It involves interdisciplinary collaboration amongst researchers, clinicians, students, administrators and persons with lived experiences.

Dr. Wolfe also co-leads a provincial spinal cord consortium through the Ministry of Health and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute where he trains professionals in best practices at 10 different rehabilitation hospitals across the country. 

“The work Dalton and his team do is tremendously important, working alongside clinicians and patients to move rehab practice forward by translating evidenced-based research into practice,” says Charlie Giurleo, Occupational Therapist at Parkwood Institute. “It has really been a great honor to work alongside Dalton because he makes it fun to come to work and for us to be able to see how research can be paired with clinical care.”

Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Assistant Scientific Director at Lawson, nominated Dr. Wolfe for the award because of his ongoing dedication to find new innovations that will make a difference in patient outcomes. 

Drs. Dalton Wolfe and David Hill
Drs. Dalton Wolfe and David Hill 

“The purpose of research is to improve clinical practice. Dalton’s (R2P) program really embodies this by being closely connected to the clinical teams,” explains Dr. Forchuk. “He listens to clinicians and patients to learn what improvements are needed and sets out to make those improvements. That’s why I nominated Dalton – because he really emulates what we strive for when it comes to research.”

The Lawson Impact Awards celebrates hospital-based research that makes a difference by advancing scientific knowledge and applying it directly to patient care. With awards in eight categories, the annual event honours Lawson scientists, staff, trainees and partners who demonstrate excellence.

Congratulations to Dr. Dalton Wolfe and all our 2022 Lawson Impact Award winners.