Climate adaptation for people living with Spinal Cord Injuries

Arushi is a healthcare leader with a track record for piloting and scaling solutions to address multifaceted challenges. She is currently the Director for Commercialization at the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute--where she focuses on identifying and building the best technologies to address the needs of people living with spinal cord injury. She is particularly interested in the intersections of climate change and needs for people living with disabilities. She is also a WEF Vancouver Global Shaper and a recipient of the BC Business 30 under 30 award. Arushi is also the author of the award-winning novel set in apartheid South Africa called "When Morning Comes."


The project seeks to identify and pilot affordable, accessible and scalable technologies that address the disproportionate threat climate change related events (heatwaves, natural disasters) pose to people living with spinal cord injury and other disabilities. This could include like threatening over-heating due to heatwaves or inability to evacuate due to difficulty with mobility during a natural disaster. This project will be conducted in 2 phases--phase 1 will consist of a technology research phase culminating in a pitch to identify the strongest solutions to address these challenges based on the needs for people living with SCI and the impact on GHG emissions. The second phase will then design a pilot to deploy a shortlisted technology with someone living with a spinal cord injury to identify benefits, learnings and opportunity to scale this technology for other people with disabilities.

Working in spinal cord injury during the heatwave, a number of my colleagues were unexpectedly in danger due to the dangerous heat, lack of access to refrigerants, mobility challenges and difficulty in "sweating" due to compromised functions. I came face to face with the reality of how fatal even a few degrees increase in temperature is to people living with disabilities and the lack of our preparedness to help ensure safety for our communities. I began to research solutions, and also learned that refrigerants - while critically in demand, are also a significant GHG emitter. This is just one example of the type of technology gap I would like to address: meeting the needs for people with disabilities but also reducing GHG emissions from status technologies. As someone who has designed and led an accelerator and incubator for technologies for people living with SCI, I felt well-positioned to identify technologies that would help address this solution, and design pilots to deploy them.


Climate change intersects with healthcare and every facet of our lives, and our community--I feel compelled to act and deploy solutions to mitigate the risks for our community, especially the most vulnerable and at-risk.

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