Dr. Cameron Mang, University of Regina
Can you describe your area of research and how it is helping address a health-related issue in Saskatchewan?
My research focuses on how exercise affects the central nervous system in people living with chronic neurological conditions. Recently, I have become particularly interested in developing and studying exercise interventions that are targeted to people with multiple sclerosis (MS), given that here in Saskatchewan we have among the highest rates of MS in the world. My hope is that this work will lead to the creation of specialized exercise programs that optimize long-term quality of life for people living with MS in Saskatchewan and beyond.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
I really love learning. Whether that learning comes from poring over the data we collect and analyze, meeting with the wonderful students who come in with fresh ideas, or the many conversations that we have with research participants and community partners, I enjoy taking it all in and continually reshaping my own understanding of the work that we do.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Science is hard! It takes a lot of time and effort to understand new findings and communicate them in ways that make sense to other people. At times, this work can be quite mentally taxing and even downright discouraging, but to paraphrase a famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, things that are worth doing usually require effort, challenge, and difficulty. The struggle is an important part of the process!
How did you first become interested in this area of research? What inspires you to do the work that you do?
My Dad is a physical therapist. As a kid, we constantly had people from the neighbourhood coming by for a treatment and doing various exercises. My Dad often explained things to me, and I saw how he used his knowledge of human anatomy and physiology to help people. From there, as an undergraduate kinesiology student I volunteered at The Steadward Centre, an adapted physical activity centre at the University of Alberta. The people there drew me in even more. I listened and learned and my fascination with exercise and the adaptability of the human body and nervous system continued to grow. My work now is inspired by both a desire to support people in realizing the many benefits that exercise can provide and a captivation with human physiology.
Where is your research headed in the next five years?
Unfortunately, most people with neurological conditions receive limited long-term support for participation in exercise programming despite evidence of exercise benefits even in late stages of recovery. It would be a huge undertaking, but I would like to see the development and study of a province-wide clinic-to-community healthcare model for people with neurological conditions living in Saskatchewan. A model like this could potentially support people with neurological conditions in engaging in exercise programming that is targeted to their needs in the long-term after diagnosis towards achieving their best possible outcomes.
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