CMA awards Medal of Honour to Louise Miller

    OTTAWA, Aug. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA)
will present the 2008 CMA Medal of Honour to Louise Miller, co-founder of the
Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Center Society in Alberta.
    "The CMA Medal of Honour recognizes personal contributions to advancing
medical research and education," said CMA President Dr. Brian Day. "Louise
Miller's dedication to the advancement of medical research, health care and
health education related to spinal cord injuries is nothing short of
inspirational. She is a very worthy recipient of this award."
    In 1965 she and her family immigrated to Red Deer, Alta., where she
worked as a registered nurse. She was awarded a B.Sc. in nursing (1972) and
later earned a MBA degree. In 1978 Mrs. Miller became the first female
non-politician elected to the board of directors of Edmonton's Royal Alexandra
Hospital, serving 5 years of her 6-year term as vice-chair.
    A spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia in 1984 served as a catalyst
for Mrs. Miller's subsequent 20+ years of advocacy for people with
disabilities and, in particular, those with spinal cord injuries. Her positive
attitude and indomitable spirit are an inspiration to those who cross her
    "I have never stopped for a second to think that I can't do something - I
have always thought that I could find a way to get it done," said Mrs. Miller
    After her injury Mrs. Miller became socially active in her efforts to
learn about wheelchair access in Edmonton. She co-chaired the City of Edmonton
Custom Transportation Services Advisory Board from 1985 to 1987. At the same
time she served as vice-chair of the Canadian Paraplegic Association,
Edmonton, and as a member of a subcommittee that formed the Alberta Paraplegic
Foundation, which continues to fund spinal cord injury research.
    When Mrs. Miller chaired the City of Edmonton Task Force on Persons with
Physical Disabilities in 1986-87, the committee created a report with
62 recommendations to improve accessibility to services and civic buildings.
She subsequently served a 6-year term as chair of the City of Edmonton
Advisory Board, newly established to address the recommendations.
    Perhaps her greatest achievement is co-founding, in 1987, the Spinal Cord
Injury Treatment Center Society. The SCITCS mission is "to promote awareness
and create opportunities for people affected by spinal cord injuries to
enhance their quality of life." The organization works to help others to help
themselves, through support, education and research. Mrs. Miller has been the
backbone of SCITCS since its inception, providing leadership and direction for
the society and volunteering countless hours to its success. This remarkable
organization ( has just celebrated 21 years of promoting and
financially supporting applied research and bringing state-of-the-art
technology and research to Alberta.
    She spearheaded the creation of the Functional Electrical Stimulation
(FES) Exercise Clinic in 1993 and the SCITCS FES Research Facility in 2006,
both located at the University of Alberta. The society has donated
computerized bicycles and other FES equipment to provide opportunities for
those with spinal cord injuries and others to exercise by standing, walking,
rowing and cycling. SCITCS has also donated $28,000 to adapt a commercial
rowing machine with FES capabilities. In addition, SCITCS has contributed in
excess of $1.2 million to the University of Alberta for research and to study
the application of FES.
    In 2000 the SCITCS board of directors established the Louise Miller
University of Alberta Bursary, for a graduating student with a disability, "in
recognition of her tireless dedication to the needs of the spinal cord
injured, her pioneering efforts in the acquisition of the functional
electrical stimulation technology, and in recognition of her leadership in the
origin, operation, and development of the SCITCS organization."
    Among her other accomplishments is initiation and production of a local
bestselling book, Daring to Live, which she helped to author in 2000. In her
words, "it describes how the human spirit can overcome just about everything,
no matter how devastating." To date, 2000 copies have been printed. Copies are
donated to patients with spinal cord injuries and proceeds from sales are
donated to SCITCS.
    To ensure that persons with a disability maintain their independence,
Mrs. Miller was instrumental in the acquisition of 2 fully accessible rental
vans in Edmonton. In addition, through her efforts, SCITCS has donated 7
motorized scooters for the use of university students.
    One of her recent projects was inspired after the deaths of 2 prominent
spinal cord injury advocates due to complications of septicemia. In 2004 she
initiated the establishment of an influential subcommittee that included the
dean and researchers from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Capital
Health, and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to investigate the
epidemiology, management and prevention of pressure ulcers. The group
completed a literature review in 2005. SCITCS has donated over $100,000 to the
University of Alberta to fund research into the prevention of deep pressure
ulcers using the application of FES.
    "I strongly believe that research, particularly translational research,
is the backbone by which people with a spinal cord injury can participate in
physical activities to maintain their health while waiting for a cure. This
has been my focus for the past twenty plus years," added Mrs. Miller.

    Louise Miller has received many honors for her commitment and dedication,
including Woman of Vision (ITV-Television); Woman of Distinction (YWCA); the
Toyota Never Quit Award; the University of Alberta's Alumni Award of
Excellence; and the Alberta Medical Association's Medal of Honor. She was
invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2000.

    Louise Miller is the 25th recipient of the CMA Medal of Honour, the
highest award bestowed upon a person who is not a member of the medical
profession. She will receive this award at a special ceremony at the Sheraton
Centre in Montreal, QC on Aug. 20th as part of the CMA's 141st annual meeting.

For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations, (613)
731-8610, 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266, Mobile: (613) 447-0866

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