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  • Landmark NIH Plan Delivers 5-Year Roadmap for Rehabilitation Research

    Rehabilitation research, one of APTA's longstanding areas of advocacy, has just received a major boost with the publication of a revised National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rehabilitation Research Plan, a 5-year roadmap intended to address a broad swath of research science. Nearly 2 years in development, the revision is the first change to the plan made in over 2 decades, and was guided by a blue ribbon panel that included prominent APTA members and physical therapy researchers.

    The plan, which will guide NIH support for rehabilitation medicine, addresses 6 priority areas: the need for rehabilitation research, NIH's investment in rehabilitation research, current rehab research activities at NIH, coordination with other federal agencies, and opportunities, needs, and priorities. According to NIH, each area has witnessed significant change since the 1993 edition of the plan, attributable to everything from an increase in rehabilitation researchers and growth in evidence to advances in brain-computer interfaces and other technologies that have altered the rehabilitation landscape.

    Among the topics covered within the priority areas: investigation of new approaches to assistive technology in the home; increasing resources to recruit more researchers; ramped-up efforts to analyze biological, chemical, and genetic components of recovery; and intensified research on rehabilitation and disability across the lifespan.

    A call for a revision to the plan, and the establishment of a 5-year update cycle, were among the recommendations from an NIH blue ribbon panel that was co-chaired by former Physical Therapy (PTJ) Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Craik, PT, PhD, with members that included Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD, and current PTJ Editor-in-Chief Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD.

    Improvements to rehabilitation research and support of NIH work in this area are among APTA's public policy priorities. In addition to its individual advocacy efforts, the association is a member of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition, a group of more than 40 organizations working together to promote this type of research.

    "The rehabilitation research plan now published will be a major resource, both for researchers and the agencies that provide funding," said Justin Moore, PT, DPT, chief executive officer of APTA. "Rehabilitation science can help providers truly transform lives, and this new plan marks a long-awaited and significant step forward."

    Development of the plan was led by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), under the leadership of Director Alison Cernich, PhD. NCMRR is part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


    • I'm a PT with a Master's Degree in Epidemiology. Are there ways to learn more about this initiative and become more involved?

      Posted by Andrew Singer on 10/4/2016 10:21 AM

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