Current Projects

Below is a list of projects currently underway at the PIRL. For any questions please contact the lead researcher of the project or Dr. David Walton at


The physio moves canada project

Lead Researcher: Dave Walton

Purpose: The purpose of this pan-Canadian study is to collect clinician perspectives on the future of physiotherapy. It is comprised of a focused ethnography of practice innovations, a phenomenology of the lived experience of mobility for Canadians, and a series of descriptive studies exploring threats, opportunities, training, and research priorities for Physiotherapy in Canada.

Status: Analysis and dissemination currently under way.




Fabrication and Evaluation of a Flexible Wearable Sensor for Ecological Momentary Assessment of Neck Function


Lead Researcher: Iyad Al-Nasri

Purpose: In this project, a smart wearable sensor is being researched and developed in collaboration between Western’s Mechanical and Materials Engineering department, the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and the School of Physical Therapy. The aim is to fabricate, characterize, and evaluate an unobtrusive, lightweight sensory tape made up of Electromechanically Active Polymers (EAP) to address ‘real-time’ ecological momentary assessment of neck function in the three cardinal planes. 


 Creation of INTER PROFESSIONAL Pain Management Master’s-Level Program


Lead Researcher: Zoe Letwin

Purpose: This project includes working closely with Dr. Dave Walton and a variety of experts to develop a master’s-level Inter professional Pain Management program for practicing clinicians in an inter professional setting with an anticipated delivery date of September 2019. We will work to define and operationalize core competencies as well as objectives for the new program. The structure, design, content and implementation of the program will be documented and will produce a meta-analysis review.

Current Status: In progress


Demystifying chronic pain following a fracture 

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Lead Researcher: Shirin Modarresi

Purpose: Our aim in this project is to gain a more comprehensive understanding of chronic pain in people with distal radius fracture. We adopt a 3-fold approach: 1) we are investigating the existence of a familial subtype of complex regional pain syndrome, 2) using sophisticated statistical techniques, we are exploring whether mental health has any effects on recovery rate and quality, and 3) through conducting quantitative sensory testing, we will create a sensory profile for people with and without depression following a distal radius fracture. 

Current Status: In progress


The Genetics of Pain


Lead Researcher: Mohamad Fakhereddin 

Purpose: The aim of this project is to identify and study key genetic factors that may explain why some people recover after an acute traumatic injury while others go on to develop chronic pain. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) will play a role in predicting rate and likelihood of recovery following a traumatic injury. SNPs are mutations in our DNA, represented by a change in a single DNA nucleotide, such as a substitution mutation. The normal occurrence of a SNP results in the most common type of genetic variation among people. This study will improve our understanding of the important interactions between genetics and psychosocial variables such as early life adversity, socioeconomic factors, and anxiety or depression and how they contribute to the progression from acute pain to chronic pain at the genetic level. 

Current Status: In progress


Nature, Nurture, or Both? A Mixed-Methods approach to the study of sex and gender and their effects on pain


Lead Researcher: Maryam Ghodrati

Purpose: Under supervision of Dr. Dave Walton and collaboration with other experts, we have focused on creating and testing a novel comprehensive model that simultaneously integrates sex, gender and relevant biopsychosocial meta-variables to explore their absolute and relative contributions towards participant ratings of pain, depression, disability, distress, and recovery using real-world clinical samples. By doing so, we will gain a deeper understanding of this phenomenon with an eye towards individualized pain management strategies for men and women, and it will represents a new direction in the field of pain and recovery that could change the way that pain is managed.

We also hope to provide evidence for moving beyond the traditional masculine and feminine traits and introduce a new sound measurement tool for evaluation of gender-related pain attitudes.

Current Status: In progress