Bonita Sawatzky


Orthopaedic Research

Hospital Site:
Vancouver – Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

Dr. Sawatzky was one of the original principal investigators (PI) of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD) when it opened in 2008. She brought her passion and expertise of understanding mobility related issues in gait and wheelchair propulsion to this integrated spinal cord injury research centre. She is an international leader in this field and has presented over 170 presentations to local and international audiences around the world. She was the academic lead on the organizing committee of the International Seating Symposium (Vancouver) for 20 years and also initiated the Oceania Seating Symposium (New Zealand and Australia) as Scientific Coordinator. She has taught biomechanics in the undergraduate medical program and biomedical engineering, and in the past 20 years as focused her teaching more on the role of the physician in society and the patient’s voice in medical education and medical research. In 2023, she has stepped down as PI of ICORD and has taken on the role as the Department of Orthopaedic’s READI Director (Respect, Equity, Accessibility Diversity and Inclusion.) She encourages the patient’s voice in her approach to educating students/faculty and doing research. She welcomes a diverse group of people to be collaborators, co-researchers and authors.

Research Interests & Publications

Research Interests:

  • Wheelchair and gait mobility (biomechanics and energetics) in individuals with spinal cord injury across the lifespan
  • Designing and assessing modified exercise equipment for people with disabilities
  • Long term outcomes of adults with Arthrogryposis (international registry)
  • Increasing the voice of people with diverse lived experiences into the undergraduate and post graduate medical education systems


Sawatzky B. Choi K, Herrington, B, Sparry C, Mattie J, Mortenson WB, Borisoff J, Laskin JJ, Physiology of exercise on an adapted rowing machine in people with spinal cord injury or disease. Spinal Cord. (2022) 60(8): 694-700. | VIEW ARTICLE

De Groot S, Cowan, RE, MacGillivray M, Leving M, Sawatzky, B. The effect of external power output and its reliability on propulsion technique variables in wheelchair users with spinal cord injury. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems & Rehabilitation Engineering. (2022) 30; 296-304. | VIEW ARTICLE

Singh G, Sawatzky B, Nimmon L, Mortenson WB. Barriers and Facilitators to eHealth Technology Use among Community-Dwelling Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: A Qualitative Study Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. (2022) 28(2):196-20. | VIEW ARTICLE

Singh, G., Sawatzky, B., Nimmon, L., & Mortenson W.B. Perceived eHealth literacy and health literacy among people with spinal cord injury. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. (2022) 7;1-8. | VIEW ARTICLE

Singh, G., Simpson, E., MacGillivray, M., Sawatzky, B., Adams, J., & Mortenson W.B. Expectations of a mobile self-management app intervention among individuals with spinal cord injury. Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation. (2022) 28(2): 205-215. | VIEW ARTICLE

Simpson, E., Sawatzky, B., Forwell, S., Backman, C.L., Symington, D., Vu, M., & Mortenson, W.B. A mixed-methods study exploring and comparing the experiences of people who sustained a spinal cord injury versus later in life. Spinal Cord (2022) 60(8):706-711. | VIEW ARTICLE

Sarveswaran S, Mortenson B, Sawatzky B. Mental health in adults with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita. American Journal of Medical Genetics – Part C (2023) 193(2) 139-146. | VIEW ARTICLE

For more information regarding Dr. Sawatzky’s published research, please click here.

Academic Background

  • BPE, The University of British Columbia
  • MPE, The University of British Columbia
  • PhD, Simon Fraser University