Dr. Marcalee Alexander specializes in the treatment of patients with spinal cord injury. In 2019 she and her husband Craig took a break from full-time practice to educate people about climate change and disability by starting a walk from Canada to Key West to bring attention to issues of persons of disabilities in climate change by educating both professionals and communities. Along with being the first female president of the American Spinal Injury Association, Dr. Alexander has published more than 125 articles and chapters in professional journals and is currently the editor of the journal Spinal Cord Series and Cases. Throughout most of her career, her research has focused on sexuality and spinal cord injury and she is known for performing significant laboratory-based research outlining the impact of specific neurologic injuries on sexual responses. Over the past 15 years she also has had an interest in telemedicine, and she currently has a sexuality telehealth clinic at Spaulding rehabilitation hospital. At present, she also is working on a summit in 2021 to bring together leaders from the climate change and disabilities fields. In conjunction with this work, she started a nonprofit called Telerehabilitation International with a mission to bring attention to climate change and disability and to use telemedicine to start a volunteer network of physiatrists to provide consults for persons with disabilities in areas of disaster relief. A graduate of Jefferson Medical College, she completed her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation there.
This is part 1 of a 2-part series in which she discusses what inspired her interest in how climate change influences individual and community health status; how individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) might be at a heightened risk to experience adverse health impacts from climate change; the degree to which mental health impacts should be taken into account when discussing climate change; and how various sub-groups, such as individuals who are characterized by having low-income, being geographically isolated, living in poor housing conditions, and who differ on the basis of age, gender, level of frailty, and presence of chronic disease might be affected differently by climate change.