UIC PUTS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY TO THE TEST WITH NEW GRANT
If someone you love suffers a stroke or a debilitating injury on the job, you want the medical community to do everything it can to help your loved one return to a normal life. Occupational therapy plays an important role in rehabilitating persons who are debilitated by illness or injury and helps them return to activities as a parent, student or worker. Government and private health insurers, however, have placed severe caps on how much they will pay out for occupational therapy.
The occupational therapy community must determine scientifically which therapeutic approaches are most effective. The department of occupational therapy in the College of Health and Human Development Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago will play a leading role in this effort with a $300,000 grant from the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. With the new grant, UIC will establish a center to investigate the efficacy of occupational therapy, also known as outcomes research.
"There are things that occupational therapists do that work and some that don't," said Craig Velozo, co-investigator on the project. "It's na´ve to think that everything works. It's time we start putting our work to the test so that we can demonstrate its benefits to the scientific community and consumers. The other key issue is providing evidence to health insurers so that they will reimburse for occupational therapy, making it an option for more people who need it."
The Center for Outcomes Research and Education will train 17 emerging scholars, including five UIC research faculty, from throughout the United States, Canada and Sweden, in outcomes research. "We looked for up-and-coming occupational therapy researchers who we knew were doing good work and with a little extra help in advanced research design methodologies, could more effectively compete for federal funding," Velozo said.
Eight high-level methodologists, including three UIC faculty members, will conduct symposia on outcomes research.
Each of the 17 research fellows will develop large-scale grant proposals for outcome studies to demonstrate the impact of occupational therapy practice worldwide. The researchers have expertise in a wide range of areas including gerontology, arthritis, pediatrics, domestic violence, neurological disorders and developmental disabilities.
Lena Borell, a research fellow from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, said she expects to set up outcome studies on the delivery of occupational therapy interventions to seniors in their homes. "I think that we will develop excellent research proposals not just for occupational therapy, but also for the health care system as a whole. The project also gives us an opportunity to submit multicenter studies involving centers in several countries."
Among the other activities the center will undertake are:
With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.
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