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New NIDRR RERC Proposed Priorities

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) has issued a notice of proposed priorities for Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERC) within the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program. Specifically NIDRR has proposed two priorities for RERCs including recreational technologies and exercise physiology benefitting individuals with disabilities and rehabilitation robotics. In regards to recreational technologies, NIDRR cites the Institute of Medicine who state that people with disabilities are less likely to engage in physical activity than those without disabilities due to factors such as environmental barriers and “limited knowledge of safe and appropriate levels of exercise.”  Thus, the priority “seeks to fund research and development activities that will facilitate equitable access to, and safe use of, recreational equipment, facilities, and recreational programs, and that will increase physical health and reduce secondary conditions associated with disability and sedentary lifestyle.”  For the second priority, rehabilitation robotics, NIDRR highlights that although there have been many advances in this field, such as manipulator arms, cognitive aids, and therapy robots, many of these devices are expensive or are not conducive to widespread distribution.  NIDRR has accordingly prioritized an RERC that evaluates not only the efficacy and safety of rehabilitation robotics but also engages in the development of “innovative technologies and techniques to improve the current state of the science and usability of rehabilitation robotics for individuals with disabilities.”  Specifically, NIDRR has prioritized research and development for both assistance and therapy robots, citing a need to “improve the usability and utility of assistance robots” and to “expand the use of therapy robots beyond large rehabilitation centers.”  The proposed priorities may be used for the current as well as later fiscal years. Comments on the notice are due May 10, 2012. [Source: NIDRR]

Additional Information:

NIDRR Announcement



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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.