Ginette Thibault-Halman is a difference maker of a different kind. As a scientific research coordinator in the Division of Neurosurgery at Queen Elizabeth II Health Science Centre in Halifax, she has a front row seat to witness the impact of spinal cord injury and the benefits of today’s research.
A native of Pointe-de-l’Église, Nova Scotia, Ginette first found neuroscience (the study of the nervous system) extremely fascinating when she was in nursing school. Her passion led her to pursue undergraduate studies in biochemistry, and then a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute.
Today, Ginette coordinates numerous Rick Hansen Institute-led research projects. including the Rick Hansen SCI Registry (RHSCIR), CAMPER (The Canadian Multicentre CSF Pressure Monitoring and Biomarker Study), Access to Care and Timing (ACT), and the E-Scan Atlas.
"One of the things I enjoy about working with RHI is the opportunity to work on different types of studies. My experience was working on an acute neurosurgical unit, but through CAMPER I’ve been able to see first-hand what goes on in the Emergency Department, the operating room and Intensive Care Unit in the early stages of SCI, and to follow patients through that process.
The Rick Hansen SCI Registry allows me to maintain contact with patients and hear how they’re doing after they’ve gone back to their communities. The Access to Care and Timing project and E-Scan have deepened my understanding of how our trauma, acute and rehab system works here in Nova Scotia. I’m interested in looking at trauma systems as a whole, and ACT’s potential to provide information for decision-making is tremendous."
While each project has specific parameters, discoveries can also benefit other areas.
"SCI research efforts are directed at a variety of initiatives—from high level changes to the trauma system to new methods of patient education and engagement. I think that the best outcomes will come not from any of these in isolation, but from a combination of these working synergistically. The methodology of the ACT study, for instance, could be powerful if applied to brain injury, and informative for a whole host of other conditions."
Like many who work in this field, the impact spills over into her personal life.
"When I do community follow-ups for the Registry, it never ceases to amaze me how adaptable people are - people who suffer devastating, life-altering injuries, yet maintain a positive outlook, satisfied overall with their lives. I’ve learned that a big part of our happiness is determined not by what our circumstances are, but in how we respond to them."