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Dr. Timothy Daniels appointed first Chair in Foot and Ankle Surgery in Canada

Toronto, February 7, 2013

By Leslie Shepherd

Dr. Timothy Daniels
Dr. Timothy Daniels

Dr. Timothy Daniels, an international expert in foot and ankle surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital, has been appointed the hospital’s first Chair in Foot and Ankle Research. This is the first foot and ankle chair in Canada and one of the few that exist in North America.

Dr. Daniels, the head of orthopedic surgery at St. Michael’s, performs more foot surgeries than anyone else in Canada and more ankle replacements than most places in the world.

He is also an associate professor of surgery at the University of Toronto and an adjunct scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the hospital’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

Dr. Daniels is one of the most-published researchers in his field. He said the term chair will be used to pursue three aspects of that research, to network with other people doing similar work and to hire someone to coordinate the projects.

“The chair comes at a very good time,” Dr. Daniels said. “We’ve been working for the last decade and a half to establish our research activities. The term chair provides a substantial amount of funding, but some projects are very expensive. By collaborating with other people, we will optimize the use of those funds.”

His first research focus is a database of patients who have had their ankle joints replaced or fused. The database, started in 2002, now has more than 700 patients who are followed over time to determine the outcome of their surgery and patient satisfaction. Dr. Daniels said there are few databases of this type in the world able to follow large numbers of patients longitudinally. Researchers are already using the data to study such things as ankle replacements in obese patients and to compare fusing hindfoot joints versus replacing them.

The second area is assessing the patient experience of foot surgery. A PhD student is looking at the patient experience of foot surgery to determine their expectations, satisfaction and concerns about such things as pain and mobility. She visits patients’ homes to take photographs and talk to them about slopes or other things they find challenging in their physical environment.

The third area is doing gait analysis on patients with hind foot arthritis, working with Dr. Geoff Fernie at Toronto Rehab’s Challenging Environment Assessment Lab. The lab, the only one of its kind in the world, can mimic everyday environmental challenges faced by older people and those with disabling injury or illness. Researchers are able to recreate conditions such as ice and snow, different terrain and slopes so they can safely and accurately measure the difficulties encountered in the real world. One of Dr. Daniels’ students is looking how people with hind foot arthritis manage such things as handicap ramps.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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