Dr. Stacy Elliott

Principal Investigator

Clinical Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Urologic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Medical Director, BC Centre for Sexual Medicine
Co-Director, Vancouver Sperm Retrieval Clinic
Medical Director, Men’s Sexual Assessment and Rehabilitation Service, Prostate Centre
Physician Consultant, GF Strong Sexual Health Rehabilitation Service

Research Interests

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Dr. Elliott’s focus is on outpatient sexual and fertility rehabilitation, and community awareness of sexual health after SCI. She has been an active participant in the Sexual Health Rehabilitation Service for over 30 years dealing with persons with various neurological diagnosis. As part of her work with the Vancouver Sperm Retrieval Clinic, she and her colleagues work to improve sperm retrieval techniques and conception rates in men with ejaculatory disorders. Since the 1980s, their work has enabled approximately 125 children to be born to families living with spinal cord injuries. She has also participated in studies on breastfeeding a peripartum issues in women with SCI with consumer publications and pending international guidelines on breastfeeding and other peripartum issues such as autonomic dysreflexia, mobility and postpartum depression issues after SCI. She also developed, with the Sexual Health Clinician, the Sexual Health module in the Prostate Cancer Supportive Care (PCSC) program in the Prostate Center, aiming to facilitate sexual rehabilitation for men with prostate cancer while also developing survivorship programs as part of a wider approach to dealing with prostate cancer, and continues to assist in a consultative role. The challenges of living with prostate cancer are similar to those of living with SCI, in that sexuality is a high priority and appropriate management can have a positive effect on quality of life. She is now on an International Panel for the TrueNTH Sexual Health Guideline in Prostate Cancer Survivorship funded by Movember. For Dr. Elliott, it is her privilege to be able to work with men with neurological or surgical changes and their partners struggling with such life-changing issues, and see them at their most vulnerable and open. She has gained immeasurable respect for them because of it.

Dr. Stacy Elliott at work in the clinic

Dr. Elliott is a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Urologic Sciences at the University of British Columbia and a Principal Investigator at ICORD. She is the Medical Director of the BC Centre for Sexual Medicine, Co-Director for the Vancouver Sperm Retrieval Clinic, and Physician Consultant to the GF Strong Sexual Health Rehabilitation Service and a continuing affiliate of the PCSC program. She is also a past Chair of the Canadian Male Sexual Health Council.

Dr. Elliott is also working on new techniques and devices related to penile vibratory stimulation (PVS), a sperm retrieval method useful for men with higher level SCI, of which she participated in a recent trial with other international experts on the Ferticare 2. She also studies the problems of autonomic dysreflexia (AD), a blood pressure problem common in people with SCI, and the dangers it poses, so that the very act of sex could be fatal for a person with SCI. She is involved in studying measures to safely reduce the risk posed by sexual acts without compromising sexual functioning. She recently participated in the publication of Clinical Professional Guidelines for autonomic dysreflexia sponsored by the Paralysed Veterans of America. Dr. Elliott is also actively involved in the education of physicians and allied health care professionals through her work developing a sexual health rehabilitation primer course as part of a course stream for nurses at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and is also collaborating with a London ON based rehabilitation center on modules for sexual rehabilitation  . Based on learning and proficiency, it is designed to increase the knowledge of sexual health for practitioners.

Dr. Elliott finds the opportunity to mix with other physicians and surgeons to be one of the greatest assets that ICORD and the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre have to offer, as it brings together clinical research, rehabilitation research, physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists all within a single physical space, and all focused on solving similar problems from different perspectives in a team effort.

Recent Collaborations:

Dr. Elliott collaborated with Kate McBride, a Sexual Health Clinician at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre to develop the sexuality and reproduction modules with the team of the SCI University Online (SCI-U) program, an educational opportunity for clients and the SCI community. Since 2013,Dr. Elliott and the Sexual Health Clinicians have designed 2 day courses (originally designed for the SCI Clinic at the Craig Hospital in Denver) for rehabilitation centers in order to educate the team on sexuality and reproductive issues after SCI in order to promote a sexual health service within their department. With Kate McBride and Shannon Griffin (both sexual rehabilitation nurse specialists) and the educational team of BC Institute of Technology, Dr. Elliott helped create two 3-credit university level courses on sexual health rehabilitation for nurses, with Course One (NSPN 7740) introduced in September 2012 and Course Two (NSPN 7745) introduced in April 2013.A third module was developed for prostate cancer (NSPN 7755).Some of these teachings are now being incorporated into virtual modules in order to introduce the basics of sexual and fertility rehabilitation after SCI to all rehab health care workers in their training and orientation, as such care should not be limited to tertiary rehabilitation centers. Information and numerous videos are available on the SCIRE site and within the SCI-BC site.

With Nancy Brackett of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Dana Ohl of Ann Arbor Michigan, and Jens Sønksen of Denmark, Dr. Elliott continues to work at the affiliated Vancouver Sperm Retrieval Clinic on shared knowledge and writing projects. This included a recent publication (2020) of the evaluation of a Ferticare 2, a specific vibrator designed to help men with SCI become biological fathers. Currently Dr. Elliott continues to work with Dr. Andrei Krassioukov (and his Masters and PhD and post-doctoral fellows) and Dr. Tania Lam on neuromodulation and the influence that may have on sex, bladder and bowel function.

Major Findings:

With Dr. Krassioukov and Dr. Phillips, Dr. Elliott performed vibrostimulation while measuring cerebral blood flow during AD (induced by vibrostimulation) using Transcranial Doppler tests in the middle and posterior cerebral arteries, as well as a newly-developed volumetric technique using duplex ultrasound of the internal carotid and vertebral arteries: this demonstrated extreme BP liability and potential endothelial damage along with queries on vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) in individuals with SCI. Dr. Elliott and her colleagues, being part of an international study in peripartum issues for women after SCI, found a surprisingly high rate of autonomic dysreflexia in women with cervical SCI while breastfeeding not previously reported in the literature. Dr. Elliott was part of the development of the Sexual Device Manual for Persons with Disabilities (provided by funding from the Disabilities Health Research Network). She, Dr. Andrei Krassioukov and two Masters of Occupational Therapy Masters students were in charge of developing a manual containing research, clinical expertise, and product information; all is intended for health care professionals and their clients.

Dr. Elliott has been integral in providing her expertise in the educational modules and magazine articles for both SCIRE and SCI-BC. As part of her work with Canadian Paraplegic Association Ontario and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Dr. Elliott is developing the sexuality and fertility components for the online SCI University (SCI-U), a program designed for e-learning about healthy living with spinal cord injury. It offers a repository of information, resources, and tools for the SCI community.

With fellow PI Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, Dr. Elliott has also worked on pilot studies with the BrainPort. The BrainPort is a sensory substitution device which is commonly used with a video camera to translate visual information into a stimulation pattern that is displayed on the user’s tongue. With Dr. Borisoff, Dr. Elliott has shown that the use of the BrainPort tongue device has the potential to re-awaken some sexual sensory signals below the level of an SCI . She hopes to continue to participate in newer research on neuromodulation as noted above.

Techniques employed in the lab:

  • Penile vibrostimulation (PVS) along with TENS and double PVS
  • Sensory substitution
  • Testosterone replacement in hypogonadal men with SCI and the use of gonadotropins for men with SCI wishing fatherhood

Affiliation with organizations and societies:

  • Androgen Society
  • American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA)
  • Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS)
  • Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine
  • International Spinal Cord Society (ISCOS)
  • Sexual Medicine Society of North America ( SMSNA)
  • Spinal Cord Injury University Online (SCI-U)
  • Society for Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU)

Awards

Some of Dr. Elliot’s recent major awards and accomplishments include:

  • The Fellowship of ASIA (FASIA award) (American Spinal Injury Association) Nov 2020 which recognizes prominent contributions to, and support of ASIA’s policies, practices, operations, and goals, which together advance its organizational mission.
  • A Mindfulness psychoeducational group intervention targeting sexual adjustment for women with MS and SCI (ASCIP, 2016)
  • Difference Maker Award (Rick Hansen Institute, 2014)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (Governor General, 2012)
  • Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development Award (UBC Department of Psychiatry, 2009)
  • Top 10 Platform Presentations (American Paraplegic Society Annual Meeting, 2006)

Current Lab Members

Medical Students Postdoctoral Fellows Ph.D. Students Administrative Staff
Emmanuel Tse Dr. Tom Nightingale Shane Balthazaar* Rachel Lai
Hannah Matheson
Chloe Lim
Rory McKerch

*has graduated in the past year

Current Opportunities in the Lab

There are currently no openings in Dr. Elliott’s lab. Please contact Dr. Elliott with inquiries.

Videos

Dr. Stacy Elliot talks about her research in fertility and sexuality in individuals with spinal cord injuries as well as the advancement  of support for the sexual health field.

Watch an interview between the Rick Hansen Institute and Dr. Stacy Elliot regarding sexuality after spinal cord injury and the progress in this area of care and research to improve sexual functionality and quality of life.

Dr. Elliot covers sexuality in males with SCI, as well as aspects of health that need to be considered.

Recent publications

  • Wecht, JM et al.. 2021. International Standards to document Autonomic Function following SCI (ISAFSCI): Second Edition.. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil. doi: 10.46292/sci2702-23.
  • Lee, AHX et al.. 2019. Breastfeeding Before and After Spinal Cord Injury: A Case Report of a Mother With C6 Tetraplegia.. J Hum Lact. doi: 10.1177/0890334419844234.
  • Davidson, RA et al.. 2017. Inter-Rater Reliability of the International Standards to Document Remaining Autonomic Function after Spinal Cord Injury.. J Neurotrauma. doi: 10.1089/neu.2016.4489.
  • Zheng, MM, Phillips, AA, Elliott, SL, Krassioukov, AV. 2015. Prazosin: a potential new management tool for iatrogenic autonomic dysreflexia in individuals with spinal cord injury?. Neural Regen Res. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.155422.
  • Phillips, AA, Elliott, SL, Zheng, MM, Krassioukov, AV. 2015. Selective alpha adrenergic antagonist reduces severity of transient hypertension during sexual stimulation after spinal cord injury.. J Neurotrauma. doi: 10.1089/neu.2014.3590.
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