Martin Ferguson-Pell, PhD, C.Phys. FRSA

Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine - Rehabilitation Medicine


Professor, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine - Rehabilitation Medicine
(780) 938-4368
6-126F Clinical Sciences Building
11304 83 Ave NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2G3




Dr. Ferguson-Pell is a biomedical engineer and credentialed clinical scientist. He has dedicated his academic career to the study of secondary complications of physical disability and studying underlying causes to reduce their incidence. He designed and developed a new Rehabilitation Robotics Laboratory in the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy and uses virtual reality systems to simulate the biomechanical and physiological conditions faced by long-term wheelchair users and elite wheelchair athletes. This work includes the development of a novel approach to analyzing EMG from upper extremities and shoulders using wavelet + principal component analysis integrated into an FPGA system. The system can identify and measure, in real time, muscle fatigue and changes in muscle recruitment patterns. He also has an active research program through an AIHS Smart Neuro-prosthetics Team Grant for the detection of deep tissue injury using non-invasive spectroscopic methods. He uses both visible and infra-red spectroscopy, including Raman spectroscopy, and also ultrasonic elastography to measure changes in tissues associated with prolonged ischemia and the early onset of deep tissue damage.

His research team is creating a living laboratory network to study the role technologies can play in community care, particularly for vulnerable seniors. At present this work is being undertaken in partnership with Telus Health Solutions and is supported by both Telus and a substantial grant to support graduate students and post-docs through the federally-funded Mitacs program.

Previously Ferguson-Pell was appointed in 1995 as founding ASPIRE Chair in Neuromuscular Restoration and Rehabilitation (Disability and Technology) at the Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Science at University College London. He was also Director of Research for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (NHS Trust). He held these positions from 1995-2007. Prior to this appointment he was Director of the Center for Rehabilitation Technology, a centre he created at New York State’s Helen Hayes Hospital, which integrated research, education and clinical services for people with complex disabilities.


Doctor of Philosophy – Biomedical Engineering 1977

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland        

Bachelor of Science – Physics 1973

University of Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom         

Professional Associations

Chartered Physicist Institute of Physics, UK
Registered Clinical Scientist, Health and Care Professions Council, UK
Fellow, Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society North America


  • Rehabilitation Robotics Lab
  • Wheelchair Biomechanics and Virtual Reality
  • Living Laboratory
  • Deep Tissue Injury

Scholarly Activities

Research - Deep Tissue Injury

As part of the AIHS SMART Neuro-prostheticsTeam Grant we are investigating the detection of deep tissue injury using non-invasive spectroscopic methods.  

We use both visible and infra-red spectroscopy, including Raman spectroscopy, and also ultrasonic elastography to measure changes in tissues associated with prolonged ischemia and the early onset of deep tissue damage.

Research Collaborators:Dr. Vivian Mushahwar, Dr. Richard Stein, Dr. Chester Ho, Dr. Ming Chan, Dr. Walied Moussa, Dr Sean Dukelow

Research - Living Laboratory

In collaboration with TELUS Health we are investigating the role of remote patient monitoring on patients with Type II Diabetes.

The aim of our research is to understand how enhances communication between clinicians and patients can improve the efficiency and quality of care provided in Alberta. 

Research Collaborators: Dr. Lili Liu, Dr. Eleni Stroulia 

Research - Rehabilitation Robotics Lab

Our research is based in the Rehabilitation Robotics Lab located in the Edmonton Clinical Health Academy. This lab is an inter-disciplinary research lab designed bring together specialists from the University of Alberta and beyond to improve the well-being of people with disabilities.

Research Collaborators: Dr. Greg Kawchuk, Dr. Patrick Pilarski, Dr. Kim Adams

Admin - Roles on Campus


Martin Ferguson-Pell was appointed Dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in 2007 and completed his first 5-year term in 2012. During his first term the faculty expanded in Edmonton and established satellite programs in physical therapy and occupational therapy in Calgary and at UofA’s Augustana Campus, Camrose Alberta. The faculty’s first endowed chair was established in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and a second shortly afterwards in rehabilitation for members of Canadian Forces and Veterans. In 2010 he was also appointed to the role of chair of the Health Sciences Council. While chairing the Council the $500M Edmonton Clinical Health Academy was opened creating a state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary setting dedicated to the education of health professionals.

 In June 2012, after the successful review of his first 5-year term as dean, he was seconded from the second term of his decanal role for one year and appointed Acting Provost and Vice President Academic. This term was subsequently extended for an additional 6 months. During his tenure as Acting Provost the University of Alberta experienced one its most challenging periods in recent history. An unexpected cut of 7.5% to the university’s operating budget (partly mitigated by a 2% in-year adjustment), a new governmental focus on establishing a provincially coordinated post secondary education system and challenges to the university’s autonomy associated with the requirement to sign “mandate letters”, resulted in a complex array of management and financial challenges. At the end of his term as Acting Provost a balanced budget had been achieved with strategies put in place to generate new revenues and achieve significant operational efficiencies.

These events deferred a number of key strategic goals that had been set by President Indira Samarasekera and the Board of Governors. These included establishing the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, making significant changes to graduate programs, planning transition to a responsibility based budgeting model, establishing President’s Visiting Committees and advancing UofA’s leadership in digital learning. Ferguson-Pell was therefore appointed Senior Advisor to the President to drive forward these initiatives in preparation to handing them over to her successor at the end of her term in 2015.

Senior Advisor to the President

February - current

Acting-Provost and Vice President Academic 

July 2012- January 2014

Dean - Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine 

 October 2007 –  October 2014

Research - Wheelchair Biomechanics and Virtual Reality

There are about 67 million wheelchair users around the world. Many suffer from shoulder injuries due to over-use of the structures of the upper extremities during wheelchair propulsion and transfers. 

To address the issues that wheelchair users face, we are employing robotics and virtual reality.

Currently, Zohreh Salimi, a PhD student in our lab is developing an immersive virtual reality environment task for wheelchair users and test its reliability and validity in reproducing real life wheelchair propulsion.

Featured Publications

Hamaluik, K., W. Moussa, and M. Ferguson-Pell.

IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. 2014 January; 33 (7):1410-1421

Qi, L., J. Wakeling, S. Grange, M. Ferguson-Pell

IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering. 2014 January; 22 (3):1-8

Qi L, Wakeling J, Grange S, Ferguson-Pell M

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2013 January; 50