Lead awarded national MS Wellness Grant for unique study in Saskatoon

MSSocietyLogo_WebLead is honoured to have been awarded one of three MS Wellness grants. We look forward to telling you more as we progress, but first read our interview with Dr. Karen Lee. Stay tuned for more information on how our health and wellness studio in Saskatoon will look to make its mark.


Source: Dr. Karen Lee – A Look inside MS Research

“Today, the MS Society announced the three recipients of the Hermès Canada | MS Society Wellness Research Innovation Grant. Each grant recipient will receive $40,000 over one year to embark on a research study that will lead to a better understanding of wellness and how to integrate physical activity and rehabilitation approaches into MS care and lifestyle for people affected by MS. I’m very excited to see these grants out the door as they represent the culmination of more than a year of planning and consultation with the MS community. This included the valuable feedback on wellness priorities gathered through the MS Wellness Survey, the contribution of our community representatives on the independent review panel for the grants, and the ongoing involvement of people affected by MS in each of the projects as a central pillar of their community engagement strategies.

I’m also excited to learn more about the amazing people who have taken the reins on these studies. Each one of them brings to their study their unique expertise in wellness and/or MS, along with deep roots in their local communities, in a perfect mix that makes them well-positioned to tackle gaps in wellness faced by people affected by MS.

In this multi-part series, I will be featuring interviews with each of the researchers and community innovators leading their respective Hermès Canada | MS Society Wellness Research Innovation Grants to give you a glimpse at the amazing personalities and stories behind the research. This week, we’ll focus on Dr. Charity Evans, Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan, and Jana and Jason Danielson, co-owners of multidisciplinary health and wellness studio Lead Integrated Health Therapies, and their study titled “Determining the Impact of a Pilates Program in Multiple Sclerosis”

Meet the Community Innovators: Jana and Jason Danielson

Image Credits: Jana and Jason Danielson

Photo credit: Jana and Jason Danielson

Describe why you became involved in this research study. What motivates you to learn more about wellness in people affected by MS?

Pilates is a form of movement that does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, or ability – it is inherently that good.  We came across the work of a Pilates colleague in the US who, due to her own MS diagnosis , researched and developed an amazing resource for teaching movement to a body living with MS. 

We were intrigued to learn that many of the movements we teach did not have to be varied that much and we were confident that the mind body connection created, the neuromuscular benefits, the confidence with managing activities of daily living would be amazing for this population to experience.

The other reason we were motivated to learn more about this population is that we have achieved great success with a class we offer called Empower – which is a class designed for people who are currently or who have dealt with a cancer diagnosis.

We believe strongly that Pilates will fundamentally change the lives of our participants. 

Describe your role as a community innovator in this study. How will you work with your research partner to generate new knowledge and create wellness solutions for people affected by MS?

We strive to find ways to connect with the community and applying for this grant was a decision that was very easy for us to make. We hope to make Lead a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for movement and movement therapy.

We are excited to work with our research team to take our findings and transfer this learning into classes at Lead but also have a goal of creating a teacher training program for other Pilates instructors so that our findings can expand beyond Saskatoon. 

What does wellness mean to you? Why do you think it is important to study approaches to wellness that will improve the health and quality of life of people affected by MS?

Wellness is a mindful state of being.  At Lead the definition of a ‘Lead Experience’ is to educate, inspire and move the bodies in front of us and when this happens, quality of life increases and that person can now enjoy a new perspective on their life.

Compared to other modes of movement and exercise, Pilates is still fairly untapped and there is not much published research in this area. We need to study this approach in order to truly understand the statistical significance that Pilates can have on a body with MS.  This will support the anecdotal, more qualitative information that we have received about Pilates and MS.

What are you looking forward to most in carrying out this study? What challenges do you anticipate?

Looking forward to:

  • Seeing the changes in the participants’ bodies each week.
  • Gaining a better knowledge from an instruction perspective.
  • Being a part of cutting edge research.
  • Building relationships with our research partners.

Challenges: possibly recruitment, but I feel we have a solid plan and have many resources to get the word out.”