We proudly welcome the following speakers to the 2019 ESCIF congress.


Professor Lisa Harvey

University of Sydney School of Medicine

lisa harvey

Lisa is a physiotherapist with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy), Graduate Diploma of Applied Science (Exercise and Sport Science), Masters of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) and PhD.

She is both a clinician and a researcher with over 20 years’ experience in the area of spinal cord injuries. She is primarily interested in clinical trials designed to determine the effectiveness of different physiotherapy interventions for people with spinal cord injury.

She has research experience in a diverse range of topics including contracture and hand management of people with tetraplegia, orthotic gait along with exercise and respiratory physiology. She teaches widely both nationally and internationally, and has been the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships.

She initiated and continues to manage a website of physiotherapy exercises appropriate for people with neurological conditions (www.physiotherapyexercises.com).


Wellspect Keynote Speaker – M.D., Ph.D. Professor Claes Hultling

Spinalis SCI Unit, Karolinska Institutet and Sophiahemmets University 

Claes Hultling is a SCI doctor at The Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm. He is also a professor and the founder of the Spinalis Foundation, a cutting-edge organization that is dedicated to research and development of treatment in SCI.

 Claes Hultling got his medical degree at the Karolinska Institute in Solna and worked as a consultant in anaesthesiology and intensive care when he on the last day of May 1984 sustained a cervical spinal cord injury in a diving accident. He was then 31 years of age and on the verge of starting his “real” life. His wedding was scheduled to take place two weeks after the broken neck and against all odds Barbro and Claes were married on the 15th of June that year.

 Claes then realized that he could not continue to work in the OR and decided to pursue spinal cord injury as his specialty. Together with his friend and colleague Richard Levi he spent one year in Perth in Western Australia and worked for Sir George Bedbrook during 1986 and 1987. After coming back to Stockholm, he tried to persuade the local municipal health authorities to start a comprehensive spinal cord injury unit to meet the needs of this defined group of patients. However, the responsible politicians and directors at the Karolinska Hospital thought that it was “good as it was”.

 Claes then started the Spinalis Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that has as a goal to create a better everyday life for the spinal cord injured. With significant support from the industry and private donors, Spinalis started its operations in 1991. Until 1995 Spinalis served the spinal cord injured constituency in Stockholm through this foundation, but after growing and employing more than 20 people it became a part of the Karolinska Hospital in 1996.

 After that, Spinalis has grown and also joined forces with Rehab Station Stockholm, to cater for in- and out-patients – only SCI patients – in the greater Stockholm area. We have today close to 1,400 SCI patients listed and more than 15,000 contacts to the out-patient unit per year. Through the years they have produced a large number of scientific papers in peer review journals, and up until now 14 persons have defended their Ph.D. theses within spinal cord – all supported by the Spinalis Foundation. Claes has remained the CEO of the Foundation over the years.

 Apart from the operations carried out in Stockholm, Spinalis has started one small spinal cord injury unit in Gaborone in Botswana and one in Windhoek in Namibia and is now preparing to start one in Lusaka in Zambia.



Keynote Speaker – John Chernesky

Consumer Engagement Lead at the Rick Hansen Institute


John Chernesky is the Consumer Engagement Lead at the Rick Hansen Institute (RHI) and the Vice-president of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium (NASCIC). With nearly 25 years of lived experience of spinal cord injury (SCI) since being paralyzed in 1993, John has participated in dozens of research studies in addition to being a co-investigator on a number of research projects. He works closely with spinal cord injury consumers (individuals with lived experience including people with SCI, their family and friends, as well as consumer-focused community organizations and advocacy groups) to ensure research is addressing their priorities and will have an impact on their lives. His strong connection to the local SCI community as well as an international network of people living with SCI brings local, national and international consumer perspective to the SCI research field. He is recognized as a leader in engagement and integrated knowledge translation and has advised funding agencies (including CIHR, NIH, PCORI and MSFHR) on their engagement policies and has presented on these subjects to researchers, clinicians and consumers around the world.