Molly (Mary C) Verrier, a physical therapist trained at U of T in occupational and physical therapy graduating in 1970. After practicing neurophysiotherapy at the Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) she became the first “research physical therapist” in Toronto investigating pharmaceutical and therapeutic approaches to reduce spasticity in individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) working with the clinical team at the original “Lyndhurst” hospital site”. Later, her graduate studies in Health Science and Clinical Neurophysiology at McMaster University and the Chedoke Rehabilitation Centre in the late 1970’s helped form her broad approach to rehabilitation science and rehabilitation care delivery. On return to Toronto, she established the Human Motor Control Laboratory at U of T’s Playfair Neuroscience Unit situated at TWH and became an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at U of T. Between 1994-2004 as Chair of U of T’s Departments of Physical Therapy and Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science (now the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute), she implemented a MSc (PT) Professional Physical Therapy Program and a multidisciplinary MSc and PhD program in Rehabilitation Science bringing together rehabilitation scientists from all disciplines in Toronto academic environment. To date, integration of the academic and hospital environment has been part of her mantra for the advancement of rehabilitation science. She kept abreast of leading science in all the health sciences by chairing the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Career Scientist Awards Panel (2004-2010). As a Board Member of Hillcrest Hospital and then the Toronto Rehab Hospital, she was instrumental along with academic and clinical colleagues in the development of the Toronto Rehab as the first Academic Rehabilitation Teaching Hospital in Toronto with a stand-alone research institute, the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI).
As a neurorehabilitation scientist at TWH and Lead of the SCI Mobility Laboratory at the Lyndhurst site, along with her many graduate students and clinical colleagues, she investigated restorative motor control, using FMRI to elucidate underlying mechanisms, evaluated and developed new rehabilitative assessments i.e. GRASSP for SCI and therapeutic approaches (FES and BWSTT). She collaborated with researchers in basic, clinical and restorative neurosciences to design neurotherapeutics to enhance neurological recovery and improved functional outcomes for reaching, grasping and walking. She has used mixed method designs in developing new measurements tools for neurological and functional status longitudinally to align with her rehabilitative service delivery research. Currently she sits on the Board of Directors of the Banting Research Institute that provides startup funding for young scientists from all health disciplines.
Integration, collaboration and mentorship as well as both intra and entrepreneurship are integral to her approach for advancing the development and sustainability of rehabilitation science.