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 2 of a 2-part series, in which she discusses examples of the kinds of consequences from a health perspective that stem from weather-related events of varying lengths of time; ways in which climate change has the potential to result in the increased incidence of infectious diseases; whether climate change warrants any alterations in how rehabilitation health professionals are educated; kinds of core competencies that would serve as a suitable basis for such education; current status of efforts to educate rehabilitation professionals about the impact of climate change on health; kinds of mechanisms it would be advantageous to establish to advance educational efforts; and types of studies that would benefit the field of rehabilitation benefit on the topic of climate change.