Linda M. Rapson MD, CAFCI
Assistant Professor, DFCM, University of Toronto
Affiliate Scientist, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
Medical Director, Rapson Pain and Acupuncture Clinic
Integrative medicine physician and former GP Dr. Linda Rapson specializes in treating chronic pain by incorporating acupuncture and nutrition with conventional medical approaches in traditional healthcare settings.
Beginning as one of 13 women graduates in her medical class of 126 at the University of Toronto in 1965, Dr. Rapson started her career-long swim upstream developing unfailing courage and a thick skin to ensure that her creative and caring view would reach the conservative medical community. During her 56-year professional life, she has dedicated herself to embracing a growth mindset and thus change the practices that have downplayed the role of pain as a deteriorative factor in patient well-being.
After years invested in her family practice, driven by compassion for patients suffering from debilitating acute and chronic pain, Dr. Rapson commenced her era-appropriate education in 1974 at the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada (AFC). Following intensive mentoring from the distinguished Dr. Joseph Wong, an FRCPC in physical medicine and rehabilitation and a Canadian pioneer in acupuncture, she joined the faculty of the AFC, lecturing for decades at home and abroad. She held the position of Executive President of the Acupuncture Foundation of Canada Institute from 1996 until 2014.
Dr. Rapson’s disarming and determined personality enhanced her natural leadership skills, and she became a welcome member of myriad committees, boards, panels, and symposia. She chaired the Complementary Medicine Section of the Ontario Medical Association, and she was president of the Ontario Society of Physicians for Complementary Medicine from their inception in 1999 until 2010. As Director of Education for the physician-led Acupuncture Foundation of Canada, Dr. Rapson prevailed upon the AFC in 1982 to provide acupuncture education for physiotherapists, enabling them to treat thousands of patients across Canada. The public then found it easier to accept those Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners who followed. Ultimately, the AFC educated other health professionals, thus broadening acupuncture use and acceptance.
Dr. Rapson emphatically supported the regulation of acupuncturists in British Columbia on behalf of the AFC at public hearings in 1992 and in Ontario in 2000. As vice-chair of the Ontario Coalition for the Regulation of Acupuncture (1994-2000), she worked with chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncture professional organizations and TCM associations (2000-2006) toward the 2013 regulation of acupuncture in Ontario. Thanks to Dr. Rapson and her physiotherapist/acupuncturist colleague Irene Biemann, acupuncture for pain management in spinal cord injury (SCI) has been used in Lyndhurst Centre’s inpatient physiotherapy program since 1992 and in other Canadian SCI rehab units for over two decades. Dr. Rapson was appointed Affiliate Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute/Lyndhurst Centre in 2011 to research the role of acupuncture in SCI pain.
A medical education advocate, Dr. Rapson persuaded the Ontario Society of Physicians for Complementary Medicine (OSPCM) to support nutrition courses for family physicians. The acclaimed Nutrition for Docs course, taught since 2004 by Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason, has been offered across Canada. Most recently, Dr. Rapson presented the online lecture “Acupuncture Instead of Opioids: A Scientific/Evidence-Based Approach to Pain Management” at the 2021 Pri-Med Canada annual conference.
Palliative and geriatric care have always been a passionate focus in Dr. Rapson’s practice. In 1985, she led the home-support team of Margaret Frazer’s friends in Margaret’s final days, initiating a volunteer palliative-care support-team movement which spread across Canada. This game-changer is powerfully chronicled in June Callwood’s book Twelve Weeks in Spring. As Founders of Casey House (1988), the ground-breaking HIV-AIDS Hospice in Toronto, Dr. Rapson and a committee established policies for complementary therapies that included massage, chiropractic treatment and acupuncture treatment.
In 2015 at the World Federation of Acupuncture Societies (WFAS) Congress in Toronto. Dr. Rapson was a member of the committee that selected papers for presentation and gave a keynote address entitled Moving Forward Together: Integrating Acupuncture into Mainstream Healthcare Benefits All. WFAS is a federation of Traditional Chinese Medicine associations that had never before included medical doctors in their organizational planning.
She holds appointments as Affiliate Staff at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) in the Department of Family and Community Medicine with a cross-appointment to the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is an Affiliate Scientist at KITE TRI/UHN on the Neural Engineering and Therapeutics Team and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Rapson has published articles on acupuncture and pain in family medicine, palliative care, rehabilitation, geriatric and spinal cord medicine journals. She is the Principal Investigator on a multi-centre pilot study of an acupuncture protocol for neuropathic pain developed at Lyndhurst Centre.
An indefatigable advocate for integrative medicine, she was on the team that authored SAFETY FIRST: Dispelling Myths about Complementary Therapies.
Dr. Linda Rapson remains well-armed for the upstream challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead for her and her dedicated colleagues.