Leading Rehabilitation Advocates in Senate Introduce Legislation to Advance Rehabilitation Research at NIH

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 29, 2013 — The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) supports the introduction of the Rehabilitation Improvement Act (S. 1027), new legislation that would help to advance rehabilitation research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Introduced by Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen Tim Johnson (D-SD) on May 23, 2013, the measure builds on recommendations contained in a report published by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Medical Rehabilitation Research, which promoted better coordination and elevation of the role of this research within the federal government. Both survivors of stroke, the senators know how important proper rehabilitative care is to recovery.

Specifically, the bill calls for creation of a working group comprising various NIH institutes and centers to update and streamline rehabilitation research priorities within the organization. It would also require a report on the feasibility of implementing recommendations proposed in the Blue Ribbon Panel report. The legislation allows for interagency agreements to better synchronize rehabilitation research conducted by agencies outside of the Department of Health and Human Services.

"We look forward to working with Senators Kirk and Johnson to advance this legislation," said APTA President Paul A. Rockar, PT, DPT, MS. "This is an important step towards better coordinating research efforts and shining a spotlight on the outcomes and benefits of rehabilitation research. This ultimately helps individuals who require rehabilitation to regain and maintain function and mobility necessary for a better quality of life."

Completed in late 2012, the Blue Ribbon Panel's report found that rehabilitation research needs greater investment, coordination, and strategy to meet the growing need for rehabilitation services, including physical therapy. APTA members Rebecca Craik, PT, PhD, Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD, and Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD, sat on the panel and took part in the effort.

"After my stroke, I faced the prospect of never walking again," said Sen Kirk, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. "Thanks to recent advances in rehabilitation and my participation in the walking research trial at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I have made an incredible recovery. Every stroke victim should have that same opportunity, which is why I have teamed up with Senator Johnson to introduce the Rehabilitation Improvement Act."

The introduction of the bill coincides with National Stroke Awareness Month, which is observed in May.

The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about the conditions that physical therapists can treat, and find a physical therapist in your area at www.MoveForwardPT.com. Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@moveforwardpt) and Facebook.

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