Jun 15, 2023

Making Traumatic Brain Injury Care More Equitable: RSI Graduate Spotlighted by Temerty Medicine


Samira Omar, one of RSI’s most recent PhD graduates, has been featured on the Temerty Medicine website for good reason: her inspiring post-graduate journey, research and story.

Her research lies at the intersection of equity, rehabilitation science and racism — with a focus on rehabilitation care for Black-identifying people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). This was inspired by Omar’s own lived experience following her brother’s TBI nine years ago.  

"My brother was an in-patient for over three years. During that time, I spent 18 hours a day at his bedside making sure he had a voice and that people treated him like a human being who had a life to look forward to after he left the hospital"

"I was disappointed with the quality of care he was receiving, which I was convinced was based on our appearance and other people’s perceptions and assumptions about our background", says Omar.

With dreams of becoming an occupational therapist, the article goes on to mention how this pivotal life moment is where her research career shifted to where she felt she could make the most meaningful impact, leading her to the RSI program.

As a result, Omar has been recognized with several awards throughout her academic career, including the Change-Maker Award from Neurological Health Charities Canada in 2021, which recognizes people or organizations that make meaningful differences to improve the quality of life for Canadians with brain conditions, as well as the Brain Injury Society of Toronto’s Vetter Volunteer of the Year Award, honorary membership in the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, U of T’s Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award and the inaugural Temerty Faculty of Medicine Excellence in Professional Values Award just to name a few.   

“I do not know of any other person with lived experience of neurological disability who has addressed anti-Black racism in such a profound way both through advocacy and science” says RSI Director, Dr. Angela Colantonio. 

Moreover, the article emphasizes the importance of culturally sensitive care in addressing the unique needs of diverse populations affected by TBIs. The University of Toronto is currently taking steps to incorporate cultural competency training into medical education by enabling healthcare providers to deliver more inclusive and equitable care and it is all thanks to the passion and dedication of students, like Omar, lending their voice and leading the charge through their research.

Read more Samira’s inspiring story and journey on the Temerty Medicine website.