Dr. Paul van Donkelaar

University of British Columbia Okanagan

Dr. Paul van Donkelaar is the Associate Vice-Principal of Research and a faculty member in the school of Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus, and has been using the Kinarm for many years to do basic research in postural control. He has also spent over a decade investigating the neurological effects of minor traumatic brain injury (a.k.a. concussion) in contact sport athletes. Now, he is combining his experience using Kinarm Labs with his understanding of traumatic brain injury as part of his latest research project, called SOAR (Supporting Survivors of Abuse and Brain Injury through Research). The research examines the intersection of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and  intimate partner violence (IPV), and is being conducted in partnership with Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

In a podcast episode of “I love Kelowna”, Dr. van Donkelaar discusses how his research thus far has revealed many of the challenges of studying TBI in IPV victims: the trauma is often unwitnessed, unreported, and chronic, and the TBI symptoms are complicated by the plurality of other emotional and physical effects accompanying IPV. Thus, he relies on sophisticated and objective measurement tools such as the Kinarm for assessing these unique TBI victims.

Dr. van Donkelaar is in the process of publishing a paper that compares the symptoms and impairments experienced by IPV victims to those of athletes with chronic concussions. It is hoped that the knowledge acquired from his research can be translated into tools and resources that can be used at women’s shelters across the country.