Children’s Rehabilitation Research Network – CRRN (2003-2009)

Last modified by Support on 2012/03/01 11:09


Led by Helene Polatajko, Deb Cameron, and Patty Rigby of the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto, and supported by project coordinator Ted Myerscough, the Children’s Rehabilitation Research Network (CRRN) was an association of researchers across a broad spectrum of expertise, concerned parents and community members, staff from related funding agencies, and students beginning their careers in the field of children’s rehabilitation.

CRRN was one of 5 theme groups that fell under the umbrella of the Ontario Rehabilitation Research Advisory Network (ORRAN). The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which had provided funding for the projects, decided to explore other avenues for rehabilitation research and discontinued its support in April, 2008.

Since then, CRRN has worked with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC), and the Canadian Network of Child and Youth Rehabilitation (CN-CYR) to ensure CRRN’s research and information remains available to the child and youth health service community. If you have any questions or require any information, please contact CAPHC.

An Overview of CRRN’s Accomplishments

There were many dedicated, but isolated, researchers working in the field of children’s rehabilitation when CRRN was established in 2003. The existing groups of children’s rehabilitation researchers, while producing valuable work, were highly focused upon specific projects and research directions. Thus, it was difficult for new researchers, not associated with these groups to become engaged either with existing projects or to develop new ideas; for researchers new to the field, there was little avenue or venue to link with other researchers interested in their work.

The first goal of CRRN was to provide the means and the infrastructure to allow and encourage the exchange of ideas and collaborative endeavours among these disconnected researchers. To this end, a process of stakeholder involvement in developing and directing the work of CRRN was established.

Strategies Learned and Applied

From the outset, the involvement of all stakeholders in the development of research directions and projects was considered essential and a process of on-going consultation was established through key informant interviews, two workshops involving stakeholders from across the province, and a survey of members registered in the database.

These consultations made clear the need to increase the capacity of children’s rehabilitation research. To accomplish this it was critical to first establish a means of connecting researchers and then to provide them with the means to become engaged in new projects. It was also clear that the interests of all stakeholders in children’s rehabilitation would best be served if the research was based on multi-disciplinary and multi-sector collaboration, and if the research results were accessible to all interested.

The principal strategies developed through the consultation process to accomplish these goals were: the development of a heterarchical research methodology; the establishment of a website and an online database of researchers and stakeholders; the provision of seed funding to facilitate the development of new initiatives in children’s rehabilitation; and knowledge translation and dissemination.

Defining Re/habilitation

CRRN defined re/habilitation as “a goal-oriented, often time-limited, process which enables individuals with physical or cognitive impairments, leading to activity limitations and/or participation restrictions, to identify and reach their optimal physical, mental and/or social functional level through a client-focused partnership with family, providers, and the community. Re/abilitation focuses on abilities and aims to facilitate independence and social integration.”

Objectives and Activities of the Network

The Children’s Rehabilitation Research Network’s objectives were to:

  • facilitate communication and promote topic-specific partnerships among researchers from all backgrounds who focus upon children’s rehabilitation,
  • implement annual networking days to showcase ongoing research, identify strengths and gaps in childhood rehabilitation research, and to identify and follow-up on strategic plans,
  • establish a core team of childhood rehabilitation researchers in Ontario, to promote and support CRRN activities, and
  • establish a program of multi-disciplinary research guided by the interactionist model for rehabilitation research.

During its tenure, the Children’s Rehabilitation Research Network

  • maintained a database of researchers and professionals from backgrounds as diverse as neurosurgery, engineering, occupational therapy, and children’s mental health,
  • maintained a database of research projects currently being conducted by its members,
  • provided an on-line forum for members to publish research reports and relevant papers,
  • supported initiatives related to children’s rehabilitation research by providing small grants for the development of proposals involving groups of researchers and individuals,
  • kept members notified of upcoming funding sources, events, and other news relevant to children’s rehabilitation through email and website postings,
  • supported members work through workshops designed to coordinate efforts and interests of all stakeholders, and
  • supported future development in children’s rehabilitation by providing students and new researchers with resources for finding mentors and by providing scholarships for graduate students working on projects related to children’s rehabilitation.

Research Inititatives

CRRN provided seed funding for multi-disciplinary teams to develop research initiatives relevant to children’s rehabilitation. Among the themes around which projects were developed:

  • Fix to Function
  • Knowledge Translation
  • Rehabilitation Model of Research
  • Social Capital
  • Transitions

Reports, publications, and toolkits, developed by the CRRN initiated research groups, and previously posted on the CRRN website, are now available on the CAPHC-Knowledge Exchange Network at


Much more was learned in the five and half years of CRRN’s efforts than this brief overview can capture. The increased capacity of individual researchers, the teamwork, and the group discussions have benefits to the field that cannot be clearly delineated in a cause and effect fashion, but these benefits are, nonetheless, significant.

The overarching lessons that have emerged from CRRN’s work may be stated in five principle themes:

  • Networks: establishment of a network and a structure for networking is crucial for bringing together researchers who are otherwise left to work in isolation.
  • Development funding: funding to support the developmental work of multi-disciplinary teams is essential to their formation and opportunity to collaborate.
  • Methodology: a heterarchical research methodology that is inclusive of all stakeholders and allows for the efficacious conduct of rehabilitation research is critical for integrating research findings into practice.
  • Social Capital: Increasing the social capital and the capacity of children’s rehabilitation research is essential to develop and sustain new research directions.
  • Research directions: the formation of new multi-disciplinary, multi-sector research teams is fundamental to establishing proven and effective directions in rehabilitation research.
  • Knowledge translation: knowledge translation is an inherent aspect of all of these factors and is key to connecting research results to clinical practice and benefits for families and individuals.

Additional Information

If you have any questions about the Children’s Rehabilitation Research Network, please contact CAPHC at

Created by CRRN CRRN on 2010/01/25 11:06