Carol Richards is a pioneer in the field of physiotherapy. Through her perseverance and devotion, she has contributed enormously to the evolution of a relatively new profession that has progressed from teaching veterans of the First World War to walk again to its position of prominence in today's health system.
After earning her master's and doctoral degrees, in 1980 Richards was appointed professor at the neurobiology research centre at Laval University. During her decade at the helm of that university's physiotherapy program, she promoted rehabilitation in Quebec and throughout Canada, and opened a laboratory which specialized in studying problems that can affect motor functionality, for example, paralysis following cardiac disturbances. Richards also took advantage of her involvement with medical research administrative agencies to put rehabilitation and its affiliated disciplines on the research community map.
Her efforts ushered in an era of unprecedented collaboration between clinicians and university faculty members. Richards went on to develop an influential undertaking called the Réseau provincial de recherche en adaptation-réadaptation (REPAR). As its director for the past seven years, she has brought a new appreciation of the value of research in rehabilitation medicine to Quebec. Through the creation of a new research institute, the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche en réadaptation et en intégration sociale, she has also increased awareness among provincial and federal government officials.