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Dissertation title

Long-term impact of cardiovascular and respiratory deconditioning on physical activity intolerance in outpatient adults with moderate and severe traumatic brain injury

Area of Study

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Acquired brain injury
  • Neurologic physiotherapy


  • Dr. Leigh Hale, Professor and Dean, Centre for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • Dr. Debra Waters, Associate Professor and Director of Gerontology Research, Department of Medicine and School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • Dr. James Smoliga, Associate Professor and Associate Director of Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab, Department of Physical Therapy, High Point University

Educational Background

  • 2005: Bachelor of Science in the Science of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech, USA
  • 2005: Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Virginia Tech, USA
  • 2008: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Elon University, USA
  • 2012: Certified Brain Injury Specialist, American Academy of Brain Injury Specialists, USA


  • 2001-2005: Seabee Memorial Scholarship
  • 2013-2015: Cone Health Heart Award Recipient
  • 2013-2015: Cone Health Helping Hand Award Recipient
  • 2013: Cone Health Department of Rehabilitation Clinical Excellence Award Recipient
  • 2011-2015: Cone Health Clinical Instructor award Recipient
  • 2012: Cone Health Gumby Award Recipient

Presentations and posters

  • Kavchek A, Gosselin D, Hamel R. Seeking to Better Serve: A Multi-level Community Partnership When Developing a Pro Bono Clinic. Poster Presentation. 2017 Pro Bono Care Network Conference. February, 2017.
  • Hamel R, Vallabhajosula S, Parsons KM, Kuhn K, DiTommaso A. Functional Electrical Stimulation Improves Gait Parameters and Efficiency in a Patient Diagnosed with Stroke: A Case Study. Poster Presentation. 2015 Human Movement Science and Biomechanics Research Symposium. October, 2015.

Why did you choose the School of Physiotherapy?

The School of Physiotherapy embodies a highly collaborative spirit that provides a very supportive learning environment for distance students. The PhD program offers individualized learning that allows for exploration of areas of interest while still providing guidance and challenge for supported growth. The opportunity to work with and learn from international experts in research, advocates for high quality patient care outcomes in my area of interest, and other PhD students from around the world is exciting and valuable.

Best things about study?

The people. The supervisory and departmental supports have been approachable, reliable, and encouraging. My proposed topic has been met by genuine enthusiasm, and it continues to develop and improve with the expertise of the faculty. Additionally the warmth of the welcome into the Otago PhD community, even from a distance, has been nothing but fantastic.


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