Research efforts [at SFU] are largely directed towards knowledge mobilization, product development and translating lab work to valuable, and wide-reaching, real-world applications.

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Student Profile: Karam Elabd

December 14, 2018
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by Jennifer Cooper & Tomke Augustin

Karam Elabd, an Egyptian who was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a master’s student in SFU’s School of Engineering Science where he researches injury biomechanics.

Falls are the number one cause of injuries and accidental death among older adults. SFU’s Injury Prevention and Mobility Laboratory (IPML), where Elabd is working, hosts world-leading falls experts that are involved in identifying and innovating fall prevention strategies.

Elabd shares that his work, “evaluates fall-injury prevention products for older adults primarily in long-term care.” Elabd is part of a team that is building a dummy that allows them to realistically simulate falls and evaluate fall-injury prevention technology in a novel, safe, and reliable way.

But what if not every fall can be prevented? Elabd’s project tackles the challenge of minimizing the extent and severity of injury, should a fall occur.

The long-term goal of this project is to develop a comprehensive mechanical testing system that allows researchers and product manufacturers to reliably evaluate fall-injury prevention products. Elabd’s thesis aims to design and build an instrumented falling dummy to simulate backward falls leading to head impacts and injuries in older adults. Building this falling instrumented dummy should offer new and valuable insights into the biomechanical effects related to the severity of fall-injury. This would enable pre-screening of an individual’s risk of falling and also predict the seriousness of the injury should a fall take place.

When asked why Elabd chose to attend SFU, he cited its, “high impact in terms of research output and its outstanding faculty who respect, engage and inspire us students every day.” He also highlights the resources and opportunities for graduate students outside of their respective departments to enrich their graduate experience. During his time at SFU he noticed that, “research efforts are largely directed towards knowledge mobilization, product development and translating lab work to valuable, and wide-reaching, real-world applications.”

Elabd describes SFU’s location as “ideal.” On living in Vancouver, he said, “the diversity of activities available at a whim are essential for someone with omnivorous interests like me! I especially enjoy spending time at the beach, hiking, or exploring the local cafés and breweries with friends and fellow graduate students”. Such diverse interests sometimes bring him on long public transit rides. His advice is to adopt some productive practices to avoid getting bored. In his case, it has helped him “facilitate a very healthy and cathartic reading habit”.