Bigger push expected in the year 2020
AOTA member Roxanna Bendixen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh, traveled to Washington, DC on October 30 in conjunction with other advocates from the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition (DRRC) to encourage enhanced rehabilitation research efforts, including occupational therapy studies, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The group met with the Deputy Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and the Acting Director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), as well as the Deputy Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR).
Bendixen noted that NIBIB reported that it works closely with NCMRR to share grant funding as well as to discuss handing off technology once it has been developed and is ready for implementation. She also noted that although NIAMS is a small institute and not a major funder of rehabilitation research, it has funded multiple grants related to lower back pain. She reported that discussions with NCMRR and NICHD officials were very positive, with a focus on the overall vision for rehabilitation research.
These meetings continue AOTA’s emphasis on engaging specific NIH Institutes to urge them to enhance their rehabilitation research efforts, which will increase the number of OT researchers participating in health services research and expand external recognition of OT’s role in changing health care systems to improve patient outcomes. Similar meetings have been held at NIH and other research agencies over the past several years including the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Congress has mandated that NIH enhance the stature, visibility, and coordination of rehabilitation science at NIH as part of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which AOTA supported. AOTA plans to continue this effort in 2020 along with its partners at DRRC.