Blog Posts

Access to Medical Supplies in Ontario

CPA Ontario - November 23, 2017 - 6:58am

Many people in Ontario boil or microwave their intermittent catheters (IC) so that they can re-use them.  Intermittent Catheters are very expensive and people with spinal cord injuries need to be better supported in receiving funding for these vital needs. 

In partnership with the Intermittent Catheter Working Group, Spinal Cord Injury Ontario completed a global policy review on intermittent catheter funding models.  We learned that Ontario does not provide good funding support in comparison to other first world countries.

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario’s application to Health Quality Ontario to conduct a review on intermittent catheters was approved. 

As a result, Health Quality Ontario will be contacting our members over the next 6 – 8 months, to ask what challenges they face with catheters.  

If you have personal experience with this issue, please participate and help amplify our voice on this topic. 

For more information please email:

To help us continue our advocacy work, please consider us as the recipient of your #GivingTuesday donation.

Want to join our team? Spinal Cord Injury Ontario is recruiting a Coordinator for our Public Policy Program and Ontario SCI Alliance. Learn more

Blog Topic: Accessible Healthcare
Categories: Community Zone

The 7th National Canadian Spinal Cord Injury Conference

CPA Ontario - November 22, 2017 - 9:01am

By Nancy Xia

This year, the 7th semi-annual National Spinal Cord Injury Conference was held between 9 – 11 November. I was fortunate to attend this event, where researchers and health care professionals were sharing their latest findings in Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation. It was encouraging to know that these professionals were passionate about bettering the lives of people in our community.

The first presentation I attended was:

Barriers and facilitators to an anti-inflammatory diet in individuals with spinal cord injury

Presented by; Katie Lenz, K.Alysse Bailey, David Allison, David Ditor from Brock University

Anti-inflammatory diet has been proven effective in treating and managing pain and depression following a spinal cord injury. Participants of this study were put into two groups: 12 people in the experimental group were asked to be placed on an anti-inflammatory diet; 8 others were placed in control group, their diet and life style were not altered. Three months after, people in the experimental group experienced up to 40% reduction in pain and depression. The benefits by being on anti-inflammatory diet were evident. However, a year later, when asked if they were still sticking to this healthy diet, only 43% of them said yes. A focus group was conducted to find out the reasons behind people’s choices. They found that there were five facilitators to remain on the diet:

  1. Family Support. If a person lives with other family members and receives their support, better yet, if one or more family members go on the diet with them, then they are more likely to stick to it. 
  2. Autonomy over Meal Choice. If a person lives alone or doesn’t have to worry about cooking separately for the rest of the family, then that’s a facilitator
  3. Peer Support. Some people meet other dieters regularly to share recipes and talk about challenges. They even created Facebook groups to encourage each other. 
  4. Health Benefits. One person lost over 30 lbs by being on this diet, another person’s arthritis got much better. Improvement in health was a big push factor. 
  5. Incorporate Cheat Days. Most people will treat themselves once a week by eating whatever they want. That makes the dieting much easier. 

The focus group also identified barriers among people who went back to their previous lifestyle.

  1. Lack of Motivation. After the study was over, they didn’t have anyone to reinforce and encourage them.
  2. Social Events. Family and friends would encourage them to cheat during social gatherings, where there was always a lot of food. 
  3. Expenses. It’s more expensive to shop for healthier and fresher food. The cost of buying supplements is also significant. 
  4. Lack of Knowledge. Extra work is needed in preparing and shopping for certain items. They don’t have good recipes. Certain food can be difficult to find in stores. 

This study offers an insight on how to be successful on dieting, but most importantly, it does prove that anti-inflammatory diet works in managing secondary complications following spinal cord injury. You might wonder what is involved in an anti-inflammatory diet plan. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario has a series of workshops on Nutrition and Healthy Living. You can also download a recipe book for free.


Categories: Community Zone

Access to Mobility Devices in Ontario

CPA Ontario - November 1, 2017 - 5:53pm

We continue to receive horror stories on issues related to accessing mobility devices in Ontario. 

  • Cost
  • Availability
  • Options of mobility devices
  • Processing Assistive Device Program Applications
  • Equity of services across Ontario

In October Spinal Cord Injury Ontario confirmed a collaboration with the Ontario Government to conduct an independent review of the entire mobility device sector and make recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

This investigation will take 6 months.  During this time, we will be:

  • Interviewing our SCI Community
  • Working with decision makers
  • Figuring out what barriers currently exist in the system
  • Comparing how accessing mobility devices in other countries work

Our consultants will be reaching out to you seeking your wisdom to make the system of services in accessing mobility devices in Ontario better! 


Blog Topic: Accessible Healthcare
Categories: Community Zone

Try to Find a Training Partner

CPA Ontario - October 6, 2017 - 2:19pm

If you feel that you can’t train on your own and will need a partner to support you. Preparing for a 5k alone is good in terms of focus and it’s a wonderful form of solitude and peace if you are the fan of  that sort of alone-time.  But, finding a partner to support each other is something entirely different and can keep the two of you motivated and encouraged to not call it quits. I personally like to run alone but I do hear that the commitment (when running with a partner) is ten times stronger. 

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

What are the perks of a Coconut Mocktail?

CPA Ontario - October 3, 2017 - 5:24pm

  • Less fat than milk and no cholesterol
  • Fewer calories than fruit juices (8 oz. glass of coconut water vs. orange juice: 45 calories vs. 110 calories)
  • Has less sugar than other sport/energy drinks and pop, and the sugar it does contain is natural
  • More potassium and less sodium (electrolytes) than most sport/energy drinks
  • Contains calcium
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial flavours, colouring, or preservatives
  • And here’s a fascinating tidbit: coconut water is almost identical to our blood plasma and can be used for blood transfusions. During World War II many wounded soldiers were saved in the Pacific because of emergency transfusions using coconut water as plasma.

So when you’re feeling the heat this summer, refresh yourself with this healthy coconut water mocktail:

How’s it done?


  • 1 cup coconut water
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 5-6 pieces fresh mint leaves
  • Handful ice


Mix all together in a tall glass and go nuts!


Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Fuel for Training

CPA Ontario - September 29, 2017 - 10:28am

What to eat or how to eat before a 5k run.

Keep it light and eat at the latest 45 minutes before you train. I usually have a slice of toast with peanut butter, or a cup of oatmeal with almond milk and a handful of peanuts. Just make sure you feel energized. I usually take few sips of orange juice before my run or nibble on a bit of an aero chocolate bar too. It’s all about what works for you. You will have just over a month to experiment with food.

With regards to staying hydrated: Bring a bottle of water and sip (not gulp) whenever you feel thirsty.  Friendly tip! DO NOT DRINK a cup of coffee, tea or full glass of water just before your train, unless you know that you will be able to stop along your route to go pee! The last thing you want is to slow down your training because you have to go to the washroom, or worse!

Another thing that will help you feel ready to go out and train is to avoid staying up late and workout in the morning. You should be rested and ready in the morning and it’s a great start to the day! 

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Loaded Sweet Potato

CPA Ontario - September 27, 2017 - 5:36pm


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsps. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1.5 tbsps. butter or coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 tbsps. dried cranberries
  • salt & pepper (to taste)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bake the sweet potatoes for one hour or until soft all the way through.
  3. When the sweet potatoes have about 15 minutes left to go, you can start to sauté the spinach. Add the olive oil and the minced garlic to a medium skillet. Saute over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic becomes fragrant and slightly soft. Add the spinach. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to saute until the spinach is wilted (2-3 minutes).
  4. When the potatoes come out of the oven, carefully slice them open from end to end. Use a fork to lightly mash the insides. Add about a ½ tablespoon of butter or coconut oil to the inside of each potato and then season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the spinach between the three potatoes. Top with one tablespoon of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts per potato.
Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

One Month to Go!

CPA Ontario - September 22, 2017 - 4:25pm

The essential gear that you will need for a 5 k run.

Choose whatever clothing you find comfortable and go with clothing that will give your body the chance to breathe, and give sweat a chance to evaporate without staying on you. If you’re running, you will also need a good pair of running shoes, they will determine your success so be wise with the shoes you run in. As for socks, make sure you wear socks that t won’t slide under your heals as you run (ugh… that can get so annoying) and my most valuable training tools – my ipod with favorite power songs and headphones. I can’t train without listening to quick and empowering music. Music is food for my soul and muscles!  Speaking of food, next week I’ll be looking at what to eat…  

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Super Food Protein Bars

CPA Ontario - September 20, 2017 - 1:34pm



  • 2 cups             rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp             coconut oil, melted
  • 2 medium      ripe bananas
  • 1 scoop           protein powder (vanilla or plain)
  • 1 ½ tsp           vanilla extract


  • ½ cup             rolled oats
  • ¼ cup             pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup               blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ tsp              cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with coconut oil.
  3. Add all of the “base ingredients” to a food processor and pulse until completely combined.
  4. Pour into pan and smooth out until even. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  5. While waiting for base to bake, combine all topping ingredients into a bowl.
  6. Remove pan from oven and spread “topping ingredients” on top, pressing them lightly into the base.
  7. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and slice up into small bars. Can refrigerate for 1 week. Enjoy! 
 Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Focusing on What I'm Eating

CPA Ontario - September 18, 2017 - 1:24pm

As the Scotiabank Half-Marathon gets closer, I’ve got to be really focused on what I’m eating. Currently I’m having six meals a day, each worth about 500 – 600 calories. It’s tough and I’ve got to be really organized but it’ll be worth it. I’m doing this to raise money for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, Donate to my challenge here.

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Where to Start?

CPA Ontario - September 15, 2017 - 4:41pm

What does 5k stand for? Simply put (or broken down) five kilometers is five thousand meters or a little over three miles, a perhaps a little over 30 minutes of running.  5k can also stand for your GOAL. That is how I look at my running targets – they are my goals, be it a quick 3 k, 5k, 10k, or a half marathon (no full marathon in my bucket of goals just yet). Trying to reach that 5 goal will force you to train even on days when you do not feel like it. We all have those days but we need to practice so that we can build our endurance and step up to that next level.

Next, let us go through the time span you’ll need to prepare before the actual race. If you’ve been training for some time now and your goal is just to finish the race, then two weeks is just about enough. However if you think that you are not in the right physical shape, have never raced more than 2k or you don’t have that built-up endurance to get to the 5k finish line, you will need a month or something over a month to train.  It’s always best to allow yourself more time to prepare, the more the better. So schedule your training plan appropriate to the race date, and get yourself ready. The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon is set for October 22nd so you have a little over a month to train!

Now let’s go through accountability and committing yourself to achieve the 5k goal!  What I like to do is think of someone I am close to, and promise him or her that I will succeed. But here’s a thought, why not think of the one person you are most close to – yourself!! Promise yourself that you will succeed - whether it’s just finishing the line at your own pace the last mile or finishing among the first ten or fifty competitors – completing the 5k is a promise you would not break.

Another trick to help you stay accountable and committed is to write about your goal and prepping for the 5k race on your social media profiles, and by doing so you are bound in a way with sticking to your goal. This totally works for me!

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Spinach Mushroom Egg Cups

CPA Ontario - September 15, 2017 - 4:37pm


  • 6 medium       eggs
  • 6 oz               mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz               spinach, sliced
  • ¼ cup            unsweetened almond milk
  • ¼ tsp             sea salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp              garlic, minced
  • Optional         avocado & sliced tomato


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare 12 baking cups by greasing then with coconut oil.
  2. Wisk eggs and then stir in all additional ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until combined. Portion the mixture into the 12 prepared baking cups so that they are all nearly full.
  3. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. Can refrigerate left over egg cups and warm up in microwave for rest of week. Add sliced avocado and tomato on top for extra goodness! 

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Believe You Can and You’re Half Way There

CPA Ontario - September 8, 2017 - 1:26pm

Congratulations!  You are half way there! You signed up to run in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (or you are thinking about it) and it will be your first 5k run. You have a nice little adventure in front of you and it will be unforgettable! 

The thing now is to avoid feeling intimidated or second guess yourself. A 5K can intimidate new runners but with a little motivation, weekly practice runs leading up to the big day, and gathering some valuable tips as you train, you WILL achieve a 5 km and before you know it, it will be your staple distance for comfort and fitness.

Now let’s get started. In my blogs you will find a few 5k running tips, and what’s more important you become prepared (or get motivated to ) to start training to achieve the 5k distance.

Running a 5k is not a joke, especially of you are a beginner.  You will not just need to know how to run and pace yourself, you will also need to know what adjustments you will have to make to your daily routine, habits, and lifestyle in general.  But that all said, running a 5K is fun and with practice it is achievable in no time. 

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Quinoa Avocado Power Salad

CPA Ontario - September 8, 2017 - 1:19pm


1 cup              uncooked quinoa
½ cup             green onion, diced
¼ cup             red onion, diced
½ medium     avocado, diced
½ medium     cucumber, diced
handful          fresh cilantro, diced
2 tsbp             extra virgin olive oil
1 tsbp             lemon juice
½ tsp               garlic powder
pinch              sea salt & pepper


1.   Cook quinoa according to package direction and then let cool.
2.   Stir in cucumber, red onion, avocado and green pepper.
3.   For dressing; whisk together sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
4.   Garnish with chopped cilantro & enjoy!



Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Gym Training

CPA Ontario - September 5, 2017 - 4:47pm

"I spend a lot of time in the gym training for the Scotiabank Half-Marathon. My focus right now is strength in cardio. Not so much the very heavy weights but high levels of repetition to get my heart and muscles going. This training will help me a lot when it comes to race day. Here I am, pictured with my workout buddy Eduard Dychkovski. You can join me on the day or donate to my challenge by visiting":

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

No Bake Energy Bites

CPA Ontario - August 30, 2017 - 12:56pm


1 ¼ cup          rolled oats

1 tbsp.            chia seeds
½ cup             unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup             coconut oil, melted
½ cup             almond butter
½ cup             dark chocolate chips
¼ cup             honey
1 tsp.               vanilla extract
1 tsp                cinnamon


1.   Mix all ingredients in a large bow. Place in fridge for 10 minutes to allow mixture to form better. 
2.   Remove from fridge and form mixture into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper
3.     Cover & place in fridge for 2 hours and then serve! I recommend freezing extra energy bites to enjoy as a snack for up to 3 weeks

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone

Why Am I Doing This?

CPA Ontario - August 30, 2017 - 12:48pm

“Why am I doing this?” A question people often ask themselves when training for or talking part in a half-marathon.

In 2006, I sustained a spinal cord injury. In that moment, my life changed forever.

Compression on my spine had caused fragments of bone to break off which created a blood clot. I had been experiencing back pain, but didn’t think anything of it and continued to work hard until one day I had a stroke.

The days, weeks and months that followed were a blur. When Doctors explained my injury to me, I was filled with a huge range of emotions - fear, anger, guilt and anxiety, to name a few. A sea of faces would come and go from my hospital bedside, explaining processes and procedures which made no sense to me. 

It felt like everything had been stripped away. My life, as I knew it, was gone. My family was in turmoil. I lost my job. I didn’t want to exist anymore.

Six months after sustaining the injury, I went home. What once seemed so familiar was now completely foreign to me. People stared and treated me differently. Friends who used to call all the time, gradually stopped. I didn’t know where to start, how to get a back into the workplace, where to get more information about life with an SCI.

Spinal Cord Injury Ontario changed all of that for me.

I became a Peer Support Volunteer for the charity, using my personal experience to help others facing a similar journey. I worked with their Employment Services to learn more about re-building my résumé and, thanks to them, managed to get a new and very fulfilling job.

Eleven years on and I love my life and wouldn’t change it for anything.

This is why, on October 22, I’m attempting my second half-marathon for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario.

You can keep up to speed with my training here, join me on the day by registering or donate to my efforts to help Spinal Cord Injury Ontario continue their life-changing work.  

Blog Topic: ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 2017
Categories: Community Zone
Subscribe to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario aggregator - Community Zone