Bonita Sawatzky


Orthopaedic Research

Hospital Site:
Vancouver – Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

Dr. Sawatzky was one of the original principle investigators of the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries when it opened in 2008. She brought her passion and expertise of understanding mobility related issues in gait and wheelchair propulsion from her work in Pediatric Orthopaedics to this integrated spinal cord injury research centre. She is an international leader in this field and has presented over 100 presentations to local and international audiences around the world. She was the academic lead on the organizing committee of the International Seating Symposium for 20 years and also initiated the Oceania Seating Symposium (New Zealand and Australia) for which she is the Scientific Coordinator. She also has affiliated associate professor positions in occupational and physical therapy at UBC. She has taught biomechanics in the undergraduate medical program at UBC initially, but in the past 15 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. She encourages the patient’s voice in her own research work, inviting patients 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
  • Efficiency of wheelchair components and design
  • Pain and disability in individuals with spinal cord injury
  • Long term outcomes of adults with Arthrogryposis (international registry)


Sawatzky B, Berner T, DiGiovine C, Katte L, Roseler T.(2015) The Need for Updated Clinical Practice Guidelines for Preservation of Upper Extremities in Manual Wheelchair Users: A Position Paper. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 94(4)pp.313-24.

Sawatzky B, Hers N, MacGillivray M. (2015)Wheeling kinetics and wheelchair skills in adults and children with SCI. Spinal Cord. 53, pp.561-564.

Zepede R, Chan F, Sawatzky B.(2016) The role of caster wheel diameter and weight distribution to reduce drag forces for manual wheelchairs. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. 53 (6) pp.893-890.

Nouraei H, Sawatzky B, MacGillivray M, Hall J. (20170)Arthrogryposis: Long term quality of life analysis American Journal of Medical Genetics – Part B, 173(5) pp.1270-78.

Sawatzky B, Dahan-Oliel N, Davison AM, Hall J, van Bosse H, Mortenson W. (2019)Development of an Online Registry for Adults with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita: A protocol paper .American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C: Seminars in Medical Genetics. 181(3) pp.454-460.

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