The University of Maine at Fort Kent is pleased to announce that Professor Duane Belanger has been awarded a Rural Health and Wellbeing Grand Challenge Injury Prevention Seed Grant focusing on safety and wellness of Acadian residents of the upper Saint John River valley.

Professor Belanger will be focusing several inherited forms of spastic ataxia in French-Canadians and whether there is any evidence of dysarthria, lower limb spasticity, and distal weakness affecting lower limb movement and gait within the patient population of the area, which may increase the risk for falls and injuries. The grant also provides for the inventory and evaluation of traditional and complimentary alterative medical (CAM) treatments utilized within the French Acadian culture.

“This is an innovative collaboration between the Nursing and Behavioral Sciences program at UMFK and the Physical Science and Physical Therapy Assistant programs of UMPI which provides an opportunity for undergraduate students in both programs to cultivate inter-professional relationships that will provide professional development opportunities for our students on both campuses,” said Belanger.

The $25,000 research grant provides undergraduate research stipends for up to 15 nursing, behavioral science, physical sciences, and physical therapy assistant students from both campuses. As primary researcher, Professor Belanger will be working with Dr. Matthew Papsadora of the UMPI along with UMFK professors Maisie Plourde and Larry Nadeau.

“There is an existing and long-standing history of collaboration between the two campuses and the implementation of this project resolves to reinforce and build upon the positive momentum achieved thus far,” said Belanger.

The application portal for student will open shortly with an application deadline shortly before the beginning of the fall semester. By participating in this grant the hope is that students will become engaged practitioners prepared to be active participants within the evolving inter-professional collaborative healthcare delivery model focused on preventing falls, improving the patient experience, and delivering improved patient outcomes.

For more information you may contact Professor Belanger via email at or via phone at (207) 834-7586. Information on this research project may be obtained by visiting