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Spinal Cord Injury Ontario: The Power of choice

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) was founded in 1945, and is a registered Canadian charity with 16 offices across Ontario. SCIO works for and with people with spinal cord injuries (SCI), with the aim of helping with life-altering disabilities live the life they choose. This is an interview with SCIO. 

Formerly known as the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) was founded by a group of veterans with spinal cord injuries returning from WWII. Thanks to the support of the early founders, SCIO now has 16 offices across the province of Ontario and provides peer support, regional services, advocacy, knowledge enterprise, and more for people with spinal cord injuries and their families.  


1. Tell us about your organization.

We serve, support, and advocate for, and with people with spinal cord injuries because we believe in the power of choice - for everyone. Since 1945, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) has helped people with life-altering disabilities live the life they choose. In the process, we have become a leading source of information and lived experience, and now offer that expertise online to health care professionals seeking to upgrade their skills and competencies through industry accreditation and certification.


2. What types of services do you provide? Who can benefit from your services?

As a registered Canadian charity founded in Ontario, we have 16 offices across the province. We provide consistent, holistic, individualized, and quality assured programs and services including: Peer Support, Regional Services, Advocacy, Knowledge Enterprise, Public Policy, Employment Services (in the GTA), and Attendant Services (in the GTA).

People with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and their families benefit directly from our services.


3. How can someone get involved with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario?

Across the province, people can gain skills and knowledge through information sessions – online or onsite, attend or volunteer at our fund-and friend-raising events, become a peer support to help others with an SCI or support our advocacy efforts to improve accessibility and equity in Ontario.


4. Why did you decide to host your online continuing education courses on Embodia?

Over our long history, we have shared our expertise in a number of ways with people with SCI and their families, and in doing so, have created a deep bank of knowledge on subjects that are not only critical for clients, but also for the health care professionals who help them through their journey to improved health and greater independence. Embodia is a great way to reach those professionals and support them in their practice.


5. What types of online courses are you providing and who are they for?

We are proudly launching three course bundles on Embodia Academy: Nutrition, Accessible Housing, and Disability Awareness.

Click Here to Learn with Cortree

The Nutrition series includes six 10-minute videos on the following topics:

  • Introduction to nutrition after SCI
  • Bladder infections
  • Bowel dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pressure sores
  • Weight gain

The Accessible Housing series includes a total 30-minutes of content on the following:

  • An introduction to housing after SCI
  • Home modifications
  • A video slideshow of home modification examples

The Disability Awareness series includes five 10-minute modules on the following topics:

  • Developing disability awareness
  • Serving people with disabilities
  • Using respectful language
  • Using respectful images
  • Avoiding awkward situations 





Spinal Cord Injury Ontario’s Toronto office is in the Lyndhurst Centre, Toronto Rehab Institute, which is part of the University Health Network. It’s the same building where our founders launched the country’s first rehab services for people with spinal cord injuries in 1945. Back then, we were known as the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), and were founded by a group of veterans with spinal cord injuries returning home from the Second World War.

Low life expectancy, combined with a pervasive belief in society that having a disability meant living in a hospital or being institutionalized, made for a grim situation for people with spinal cord injuries. 

John Counsell, CPA founder, who fought and was injured at Dieppe, started Lyndhurst Lodge, a community-based rehab centre run by the CPA in collaboration with medical leaders in SCI and the newly established Department of Veteran Affairs.

That same year, Counsell brought the first folding, self-propelled wheelchair to Canada. This simple act created a revolution in the area of mobility, and something Counsell regarded as "the initial road to rehabilitation." Along with Counsell, our founders include Ken Langford, Andy Clark, LM Wood, Conn Smythe, and Al Jousse.

We are proud to carry on this revolutionary work for all those affected by spinal cord injury in Ontario.


CClick Here to Learn with Cortreee


Cortree Powered by Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Cortree is your direct line to disability education. Curated by industry experts, our courses offer up-to-date information on topics that boost your confidence, competence and community.

Cortree is a social venture owned by the charity Spinal Cord Injury Ontario. We’ve developed Cortree with the help of our vibrant community members, people who get it, who know life with a disability inside out and are excited to share what they know with you. We’ve also worked with industry experts, health care pros, researchers, counsellors, disability specialists – professionals whose experience and expertise are built into every course you take.

We reached out to our community to find out exactly what topics are most important for people with disabilities and families. The answers? Choosing a Wheelchair. Pain Management. Sexual Health. Nutrition & Kitchen Accessibility. Vehicle Modification. These topics represent some of the many dynamic, interactive Cortree courses you’ll find to help improve or enhance your health and well-being.

You can learn more about Spinal Cord Injury Ontario (SCIO) by visiting their websiteFacebook PageTwitter or YouTube


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