Kessler Foundation scientist wins $400,000 grant to improve spinal cord injury outcomes

Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, has been awarded a $400,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to observe community activity spaces in order to better understand the influence of the environment on participation behavior among people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Research indicates that the physical environment, that is, places where individuals work and reside - is a key social determinant of health and disability.

The goal of this three-year project is to understand where and how daily activity outside the home occurs from the perspective of people living with severe mobility impairments. Participants will use Smartphones equipped with an application that logs community locations with GPS and an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) survey that logs participant activity. The application will capture individual resources, motivations, and strategies, as well as community supports and barriers.

"The information collected in this study will enable us to better understand how people with SCI have adjusted to life after injury and the role that the environment plays in their daily lives," explained Dr. Botticello, senior research scientist in SCI and Outcomes & Assessment Research at Kessler Foundation. "We anticipate that these data will help guide the development of health promotion programs," she added, "which will improve community reintegration for people with SCI who are at risk for social isolation."

Investigators plan to enroll 30 individuals with SCI to assist with Smartphone data collection. Results of this research may be used to inform policy-makers on community features that drive public health and provide greater accessibility for people with disabilities.

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