Catherine Craven

Medicine (DEPMD)


Toronto Rehab - Lyndhurst Centre - UHN
520 Sutherland Drive, Rm 206-J, Toronto, Ontario Canada M4G 3V9
Research Interests
Rehabilitation Health Services Studies
Contact Faculty Member for more information

Cathy Craven is the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute/ University of Toronto Chair in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation, Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Medical Director of the Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program and Senior Scientist at KITE Research Institute within University Health Network. Dr Craven is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and a Fellow of the American Spinal Injury Association She has clinical and research expertise in health services and medical rehabilitation after Spinal Cord Injury.  Dr. Craven is Chair of the Canadian SCI - Rehabilitation Association (, Panel Chair for the 2021 PVA Consortium’s Bone Health and Osteoporosis Management Clinical Practice Guideline. She co-leads the Ontario SCI Implementation and Evaluation Quality Care Consortium ( and is Co-Primary Investigator for the Can-SCIP guidelines ( She has published over 200 articles on related topics and obtained 21.M dollars in research funding as a primary investigator (ORCID 0000-0001-8234-6803). 

Research Synopsis

Dr. Craven's clinical and research expertise is in the prevention and treatment of secondary health conditions among people living with spinal cord injury (SCI), with a focus on sublesional osteoporosis (SLOP), the interrelationships between body composition and multimorbidity of chronic disease, and health service provision.

SLOP is a disease process unique to patients with traumatic SCI characterized by excessive bone resorption, regional declines in bone mineral density (BMD) and bone quality (architecture and strength) of the hips and knee regions, thereby increasing the propensity for lower extremity fragility fracture. One in ten people with SCI report lower extremity fractures in the last year, with a persisting five-year increase in mortality following the fracture. Fractures increase patient morbidity due to complications of fracture immobilization (i.e. heel ulcer or deep venous thrombosis) and often results in delayed union or non-union, which temporarily decreases the person's functional abilities and increases their attendant care needs.

The primary aim of my research is to reduce fracture occurrence and the fracture related morbidity and mortality among patients with SCI.

Detection and Treatment of Sublesional Osteoporosis
We have developed clinical paradigms for the detection and treatment of sublesional osteoporosis. In addition, our team has also been utilizing new imaging technology to measure regional changes in bone mineral density, bone architecture and body composition around the knee in order to identify people with SCI at high risk of fracture who require treatment.

To date, my research interests include:

  1. The prevention and treatment of SLOP after spinal cord injury
  2. Determining the efficacy of oral bisphosphonate therapy for the prevention and treatment of SLOP
  3. Determining the safety and efficacy of rehabilitation interventions including passive standing (PS), functional electrical stimulation (FES), body weight support treadmill training (BWSTT) and whole body vibration (WBV) for treatment of SLOP
  4. Determining the physiological and psychological benefits of longitudinal exercise interventions among people with SCI
  5. Diagnosis, measurement and clinical implications of changes in body composition over time among patients with SCI
  6. Economic consequences of secondary health conditions of SCI
  7. Development of non-invasive protocols for the identification of individuals with SCI, metabolic syndrome, and an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events


Recent Publications

  1. Peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography: Review of Evidence and Recommendations for Image Acquisition, Analysis, and Reporting, Among Individuals With Neurological Impairment.
    J Clin Densitom. 2018 Jul 29;:
    Cervinka T, Giangregorio L, Sievanen H, Cheung AM, Craven BC
  2. Economic Impact of Aging on the Initial Spine Care of Patients With Acute Spine Trauma: From Bedside to Teller.
    Neurosurgery. 2018 May 22;:
    Furlan JC, Fehlings MG, Craven BC
  3. Prevention and management of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in persons with a spinal cord injury or disorder: A systematic scoping review.
    J Spinal Cord Med. 2018 May 10;:1-25
    Zleik N, Weaver F, Harmon RL, Le B, Radhakrishnan R, Jirau-Rosaly WD, Craven BC, Raiford M, Hill JN, Etingen B, Guihan M, Heggeness MH, Ray C, Carbone L
  4. A scoping review on health economics in neurosurgery for acute spine trauma.
    Neurosurg Focus. 2018 May;44(5):E15
    Chan BCF, Craven BC, Furlan JC
  5. Assessing Heart Rate Variability As a Surrogate Measure of Cardiac Autonomic Function in Chronic Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury.
    Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. 2018;24(1):28-36
    El-Kotob R, Craven BC, Mathur S, Ditor DS, Oh P, Miyatani M, Verrier MC