Susan Forwell, PhD (OT), MA (OT), BSc (OT), FCAOT

Profile portrait of Sue Forwell


phone: 604–822–7410



Understanding how occupation contributes to health & well-being, citizenship and life transitions, energizes my scholarly pursuits. As an occupational therapist and scientist, I am challenged to continue discovery and assist others to value the potential of enhancing the knowledge of occupation.


My research interests lie in chronic neurological conditions and their impact on chosen occupations. Current projects include fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS); pain and fatigue in spinal cord injury (SCI); fatigue in traumatic brain injury (TBI); adults successfully living with MS; and significant life transitions.

An inspiring curiosity and area of research and scholarship is that of investigating occupations and their meanings in society. Current research includes the occupations of immigrants who have children with a disability, and notions of occupational distress and power. For information about the relationship of occupational science and occupational therapy, please see Sue’s CAOT Presidential Address.


My teaching philosophy is supported by strengthening three central pillars: the learner, the content, and the discovery. They are integrated into classroom, laboratory, and field sessions in the professional education of occupational therapists. Subjects taught include occupational science, invisible problems of chronic conditions and neurorehabilitation theory, assessment & intervention.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

Future Research Graduate Students

I welcome PhD and MSc graduate students. I have a Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Program and I am taking post-doctoral fellows in occupational science. If you are interested in these programs, please contact me to discuss your goals and interests in pursuing these opportunities. Visit the Rehabilitation Sciences Research Graduate Programs Website for more information.



  • Sub-editor, Journal of Occupational Science
  • Associate editor, International Journal of MS Care

Research Consortia

  • Affiliated Investigator, International Collaboration On Repair Discoveries (ICORD)
  • Research Associate, UBC Multiple Sclerosis Clinic
  • Affiliated Investigator, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI)
  • Core member & Research Investigator, Fatigue and Functional Neuromuscular and Neurological Team (F2N2)


  • World Federation of Occupational Therapists (Pre-congress chair, Montreal, 1998)
  • Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (President/Pres-elect/Past President: 2005-10)
  • Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation (Board, 2006-2008)
  • Canadian Society of Occupational Science (2006 Conference co-chair)
  • Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (Health Care Advisory Council, 2002-present)
  • Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (Board, 1999-present)

Select Publications

*link to articles provided when possible*

Hon, C., Sun, P., Suto, M. & Forwell, SJ.  Moving from China to Canada: Occupational transitions of immigrant mothers of children with special needsJournal of Occupational Science, 2011,18(3),223-236.

Hammell, K.W., Miller, W., & Forwell, S.J.   Sharing the agenda: Pondering the politics and practices of occupational therapy researchScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2012, 19(3), 297-304.

Hawes, F., Billups, C, & Forwell, S.J. Interventions for upper limb intention tremor in multiple sclerosis: A feasibility studyInternational Journal of MS Care. 2010: 12(2); 122-132.

Daudrich, B., Hurl, D. & Forwell, S.J.  Multidimensional assessment of tremor in multiple sclerosis: A useful instrumentInternational Journal of MS Care. 2010, 12, 23–32.

Hutchinson, B., Forwell,SJ, Bennett, S; Brown, T., Karpatkin, H. & Miller, D. Toward a consensus on rehabilitation outcomes in ms: Gait and fatigue CSMC Consensus ConferenceInternational Journal of MS Care. 2009, 11, 67–78.

Hammell, K.W., Miller, W.C., Forwell, S.J., Forman, B.E., & Jacobsen, B.A. (2009). Fatigue and spinal cord injury: A qualitative analysis. Spinal Cord, 47(1), 44-9.

Forwell, S.J., Brunham, S., Tremlett, H., Morrison, W., and Oger, J. (2008). Primary and nonprimary fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis. International Journal of MS Care, 10, 14-20.

Forwell, S.J., Copperman, L. and Hugos, C. (2007). “Chapter 40 – Neurodegenerative Diseases. “. In: Occupational Therapy in Physical Dysfunction. Ed. C.A. Trombly and M. Vining Radomski. 6th Edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, pp. 1079-1105.

Jongbloed, L., Backman, C., Forwell, S.J., & Carpenter, C. (2007). Employment after spinal cord injury: The impact of government policies in Canada. Work, 29(2), 145-54.

Brooke, K.E., Desmarais, C.D. & Forwell, S.J. (2007). Types and categories of personal projects: A revelatory means of understanding human cccupation. Occupational Therapy International, 14(4), 281-296

Carpenter, C., Forwell, S.J., Jongbloed, L.E., Backman, C.L. (2007). Community participation after spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 88, 427-33.