MU occupational therapy assistant professor awarded grant for research that blends gaming and post-stroke rehabilitation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Columbia, Mo. (May 11, 2016) – Dr. Rachel Proffitt, assistant professor of occupational therapy at the MU School of Health Professions, received a KL2 Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.

The award will support her career development through mentored training, clinical research, and seminars.

With a background as an occupational therapist in the area of gaming, Rachel will develop and test virtual reality-based interventions for rehabilitation. After an assessment tool collects initial data, it will be integrated within a current gaming software that is being used. Various forms of a patient’s movement will be assessed to gauge what components need to be incorporated to give the most ideal outcomes.

“Many adults with stroke experience deficits in movement and cognition, even after receiving rehabilitation services,” said Rachel. “My ultimate goal is to create an interactive technology that will provide an incentive for post-stroke patients to be more active. In doing so, the risk of them having a second stroke is reduced.”

The project is expected to continue through 2019.

Proffitt is one of four scientists at the University of Missouri to receive this award and the only occupational therapist. The award is being offered as part of a joint partnership between the CTSA at MU and the ICTS at Washington University in St. Louis. Her long-term career objective is to be an independent investigator leading an interdisciplinary research lab that develops and tests the efficacy and clinical effectiveness of cutting edge virtual reality-based interventions for rehabilitation.

Her primary and secondary mentors are Dr. Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical & computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and Dr. Carolyn Baum, professor of occupational therapy, neurology, and social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

The MU School of Health Professions (SHP) is the University of Missouri system’s only school of health professions and the only school of its kind in Missouri to be located on a health sciences campus. Health professions account for more than 60 percent of the total U.S. health care workforce and represent more than half of the fastest growing occupations in the country according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics. With programs in rehabilitation, diagnostic and imaging sciences, graduates of the School of Health Professions fill critical roles in health care.

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