Research in times of pandemic



  • Scientific projects carried out by the CRIR community
  • Research experiments adapted to the context of the pandemic

We also invite you to consult the resources made available to you during the pandemic.


40 scientific projects carried out by the CRIR community

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FRQ-S launched a call for projects this past spring 2020. In order to meet this call in a concerted manner, the CRIR axes coordination team organized an online event on April 7, 2020 for researchers to discuss and brainstorm research projects to submit. More than 20 researchers participated and, by the end of the activity, teams had been identified to prepare and submit two priority projects under this call.

In addition, other collaborations have emanated from this activity and, in the past 18 month, CRIR researchers have led or been partners in at least 40 COVID-19 related projects (research project, video clip, community of practice, seminar, etc.) that are already underway or finished.

List of projects HERE.


CRIR members share their experiences and explain how they adapted to the pandemic environment

Lotus Flower and Jamboard for PIER Committee Meetings

The virtual meetings imposed by the pandemic have led us to discover new ways to encourage the active participation of each committee member in achieving its objectives. The Innovative Practices in Research Ethics (PIER) Committee has been experimenting with new tools that it would like to share with you. As a reminder, the PIER Committee’s goal is to explore a variety of ideas to address emerging issues in research ethics. The group members chose as their first challenge to address issues related to recruitment. However, recruitment is a concept with many sub-concepts. In order to ensure that all members had a common understanding, the exercise called the lotus flower ( ) was conducted. Like the concept map, the lotus blossom can help us gain a deeper understanding of a complex issue. We therefore experimented with this tool in order to understand the different orientations and possible actions around the issue of recruitment. Although this exercise is usually done in person, it has been adapted to a digital version using the Jamboard tool ( This free tool allows each of the participants to add their ideas and thoughts in real time, but also before or after the meeting, by means of text or Post-it notes. By connecting via a sharing link, the whole group can see what is being written and co-constructed around the “pistil” of the complex topic. The information can then be categorized in the spirit of the Lotus Flower. Screen sharing on Zoom allowed everyone to see what was being written and to add their own ideas.

The main limitation of the tool was that the surface was insufficient to collect the multitude of ramifications contributed by the members!

Note: If you are planning a very productive group, the Mural tool (, with a subscription fee, offers a larger work surface.

Karine Latulippe, Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University
CRIR-Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, CISSS de Laval


Improving Participation of Youth with Physical Disabilities During COVID-19 using PREP approach

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified barriers to participation for youth with disabilities, hampering their health and well-being. As part of a larger CIHR-funded study, Dana Anaby’s team at the ASPIRE lab examined the feasibility and initial effectiveness of the Pathways and Resources for Engagement and Participation (PREP) approach for improving participation of youth with physical disabilities during COVID-19.  A 22-week individual-based interrupted time series design was used among 14 youth (9 female) with physical disabilities aged 17-24. An occupational therapist worked with each youth to remove environmental barriers in their own context. Activity performance and satisfaction were measured weekly using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM).

All participants identified a non-virtual participation goal; 7 started engaging in their selected activity with another individual and 7 have completed the intervention participating in their chosen leisure activity for 8 weeks. Youth chose a range of activities such as sports (badminton, football, horseback-riding, swimming), music (piano, singing), recreational (board games, cooking, painting, creative writing, sewing) and work/volunteer (radio station). Common strategies  included creating 1:1 opportunities, matching same-age peers with similar interests, structuring informal activities, being flexible and having an alternative plan, consulting with the disability community, and consulting a nurse as needed to identify safe options during the pandemic. Visual inspection of COPM data indicates improved performance and satisfaction for all participants, and clinically significant improvement (median score increase by > 2 points) in 10/14 trajectories. Improving participation during the pandemic is feasible through creative and flexible intervention strategies, intensifying youth’s problem-solving for ongoing changing circumstances.

Read more here 

Dana Anaby, CRIR Researcher
Associate Professor, School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University
CRIR–Lethbridge-Layton-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre, Layton-Mackay Site, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal


Helping people with brain injuries prepare for pandemics by optimizing community strategies

Carolina Bottari, erg, PhD and Bonnie Swaine, pht, PhD, School of Rehabilitation, University of Montreal, Regular Investigators, CRIR-IURDPM have been awarded a CIHR grant in connection with the COVID calls. This project targets Canadians who live with a chronic acquired brain injury (ABI) on a daily basis. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sequelae associated with ACL are exacerbated by stress, isolation, disruption of routines, and a decrease in support services. These individuals also have difficulty understanding and following health instructions. To meet their increased needs, community-based associations for people with ACL are providing critical services. At the onset of the pandemic, these associations had to quickly adapt their service offerings without clear guidance from public health. This study will examine how these community-based associations modified their services to meet the needs of people with ACL in this pandemic context. Online information-sharing meetings will be held with association staff and volunteers across Canada to discuss how community-based services can be improved during a pandemic.

This study will foster collaboration among community associations and will aim to co-create a new resource to help community associations provide services that are more responsive to the current pandemic and better prepared for future health crises.

Carolina Bottari and Bonnie Swaine
CRIR Researchers
CRIR – Institut universitaire sur la réadaptation en déficience physique de Montréal (IURDPM), Lindsay Pavilion, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal


A soaring COVID-19 initiative:
The voice of people with Parkinson’s disease leads community innovation

The launch of confinement measures due to the 2020 pandemic has been a lever for developing innovative approaches in vocal stimulation. In response to a request from the Parkinson’s Quebec association, which was looking for initiatives to break the isolation of its members, Professor Ingrid Verduyckt’s team developed daily sessions to offer vocal practice to substantial groups of patients. The sessions are based on vocal production exercise principles, keeping in consideration everybody’s capabilities, and have been adapted in co-development with members of the Parkinson community in order to meet the challenges raised by the virtual environment and large group format.

Since the end of April 2020, more than 136 sessions have taken place with an average of 43 participants each evening. A conference will be offered to CRIR members in order to present the collaborative method used to develop this new approach, the benefits for participants and the efforts currently being put in place to sustain the initiative.





Ingrid Verduyckt,
CRIR Researcher

Professional Master’s Students in Speech-Language Pathology:
Camille D’Anjou
Romy Daniel Ben Tchavtchavadze
Camille Rose
School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Université de Montréal
CRIR – Institut universitaire sur la réadaptation en déficience physique de Montréal (IURDPM), Laurier Pavilion, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal


Wittich  Vision Impairment Research Lab

The Wittich Vision Impairment Research Lab was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, given that our main sources of data collection involve home visits and in-person meetings with older adults living with a vision and/or hearing impairment. Since March 13, 2020, all our studies are on hold, challenging the lab members in their creativity on how to move through this phase. However, in collaboration with my post-doctoral fellow, Atul Jaiswal, we were able to expand our arsenal of research techniques by training all 18 lab members over the summer on how to conduct scoping reviews and systematic reviews, according to the PRISMA guidelines. We initiated one systematic review and six scoping studies during this time, and managed to submit three protocol manuscripts for publication. Lab members also learned how to conduct reviews using the online tool, COVIDENCE, for screening and data extraction.

Atul’s postdoctoral research was also affected significantly due to COVID-19. The ethics application from CRIR was in the final stages for approval in March 2020, but due to COVID-19, all the research activities were stalled, and so was the process of approval. Brainstorming how post-doctoral research can match the evolving priorities of the partner organization (INLB) and their clients in the COVID-19 context, we adapted the research protocol to online mode when in-person data collection was not possible. We also created a citizen engagement panel of diverse key stakeholders (seven researchers, ten partner organizations and their staff in the two provinces– Quebec and Ontario, and an older adult with DSI) to guide the postdoc project through its various stages. This panel helped us to refine study research questions and raise grants for the project. Although COVID-19 delayed the project data collection by four months, we were successful in raising $ 50,000 to support the work. The data collection just began in September 2020, and we hope to get most of data collection completed before the end of the year.

Walter Wittich, CRIR Researcher
Atul Jaiswal, Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Optometry, Université de Montréal
CRIR – Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille, CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre


Virtual Data Collection

The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the way that we work and we’re all learning how to work remotely. It may also affect the way we go about conducting research. Many graduate students have to suspend data collection or re-design their projects given the social-distancing measures. One of my projects involves typical qualitative research that relies on face-to-face interaction for data collection through focus groups. When the pandemic started, my supervisor, Sara Ahmed and I were thinking how we can modify the research’s methodology to do it virtually. In context of the current outbreak, we did a lot of research on the best ways to do focus group remotely. We came up with the solution to conduct the focus group online using the technology Zoom videoconferencing that allows us to virtually replicate the face-to-face focus group discussion. Nevertheless, we faced some challenges, such as internet connection problem or participants not able to use the technology. Videoconferencing was a close substitute to in-person focus group, and allowed for data to be collected taking into account social distancing measures. This pandemic is making us all reflect on how we do things differently. Graduate students can make use of this situation to pause and reflect on different methods to do data collection virtually, especially in the context of qualitative research. As such, our work as graduate students may change as a result of this pandemic and the way we conduct research may well be one of them.

Rehab Alhasani
Doctoral Candidate
School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University
CRIR – Lethbridge-Layton-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre, site Constance-Lethbridge, CIUSSS West-Central Montreal


CRIR–IURDPM Student Teleworking Activity

In order to ease the isolation due to the confinement and teleworking instructions provided by the ministry, CRIR—IURDPM students held remote work sessions from March to August 2020. More than thirty students were invited to join their colleagues on a daily basis through a Zoom platform in order to share their work and breaks. The positive outcomes of this regular activity have been numerous and diverse. For example, many students appreciated maintaining important exchanges with their peers, normalizing the difficulties experienced, and finding motivation during this difficult time.
For many, these sessions provided significant stability during this challenging period; this allowed them to maintain their well-being and productivity. In fact, some students even included this activity in their scholarship applications in order to demonstrate the dynamism of our training environment.

Congratulations to the students for their solidarity and commitment to this initiative!

Christophe Alarie M.Sc. kin.
Doctoral Candidate
School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal
CRIR – Institut universitaire sur la réadaptation en déficience physique de Montréal (IURDPM) – Lindsay Pavilion, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal
Member of the CRIR Student Committee


Resources available to you during the pandemic

COVID-19 Communities of Practice in Rehabilitation

These bulletins produced by the CRIR—JRH Feil-Oberfeld Research Centre of the CISSS Laval include :

  • Practical guidelines adapted to COVID-19 ex. Telerehabilitation COVID-19 Research project initiatives which are underway, etc.
  • Resources to support all during these challenging times
  1. COVID-19 Volume 1 — May 2020
  2. COVID-19 Volume 2 — August 2020
  3. COVID-19 Volume 3 — December 2020
  4. COVID-19 Volume 4 — March 2021

As an extension to our Talking Research/Parlons recherche lunchtime seminars, the CRIR—JRH Feil-Oberfeld Research Centre of the CISSS Laval is proud offer this bulletin as well as encouraging words.

“If we fight hard now, we will curb the deaths. We will relieve our healthcare system. We will prepare better. We will learn.

The world has never learned as fast about anything, ever. And we need it, because we know so little about this virus. All of this will achieve something critical: Buy Us Time. If we choose to fight hard, the fight will be sudden, then gradual.

We will be locked in for weeks, not months. Then, we will get more and more freedoms back… It might not be back to normal immediately. But it will be close, and eventually back to normal…’’

Quebec COVID-Pandemic Network (RQCP)

The RQCP has recently put online a reference tool for researchers listing the various resources available to them in the framework of their projects. Whether it is to consult the results of granting agencies’ competitions, research results and the latest available evidence, identify strategic clusters, networks and platforms or list organizations offering funding opportunities both nationally and internationally, this tool, updated regularly, is an additional resource to support COVID research efforts.
Sections for the general public and health professionals have also been developed.