Kessler Foundation to study role of environmental factors in rehabilitation outcomes in SCI

Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, research scientist in Outcomes & Assessment Research at Kessler Foundation, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study the role of environmental factors in rehabilitation outcomes in spinal cord injury. The 3-year grant (4R00HD065957-03) from NIH/ Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development totals $736,216.

This grant addresses disability prevention, a key priority for the fields of medical rehabilitation and public health. The role of community factors in outcomes is understudied in patient-oriented research, according to Dr. Botticello, particularly in medical rehabilitation populations such as spinal cord injury. "This grant will enable us to identify which factors on the community-level threaten the physical, psychological, and social gains achieved during rehabilitation," Dr. Botticello explained. "Lack of resources, socioeconomic disadvantage, and physical inaccessibility are among the factors that may contribute to greater risk for disability and health problems after spinal cord injury."

Dr. Botticello will use data from the NIDRR-funded National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center Database, an existing registry of more than 25,000 persons with traumatic SCI. This unique dataset combines clinical data with longitudinal follow-up information. Proposed research activities include the construction of a relational database using individual health information from 10 collaborating sites and a combination of geographic information systems (GIS) analysis and multilevel modeling. Scales will be developed that measure the physical, social, and economic dimensions of the environment. Multilevel analysis will help determine whether persons with SCI who live in aversive environments are at increased risk for social exclusion, functional decline and poor health. Targeting obstacles to successful long-term rehabilitation may help inform public policy for the promotion of improved functioning, well being, and inclusion of adults with acquired disabilities.

John DeLuca, PhD, vice president of Research and Training, commented: "Looking at the impact of community-level factors on rehabilitation outcomes is an important approach to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Dr. Botticello's work further extends the impact of Kessler Foundation's advances in cognitive and mobility research."

Source: Kessler Foundation

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