A grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at ACL has been awarded under the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERC) Program for Technologies to Promote Exercise and Health Among People with Disabilities to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the Lakeshore Foundation. The project title is called RERC on Exercise and Recreational Technologies for People with Disabilities. The grant's funding level is $925,000 per year for five years starting on September 30, 2017.
The grant awardees will conduct a set of research and development projects to address a multilevel set of barriers to participation in healthful exercise and recreation among adults with physical disabilities. The six areas include:
- A decision support tool to improve quality of exercise and recreation recommendations and outcomes;
- Advance of a wheelchair accessible active video gaming controller to expand game play among users with physical disabilities;
- Final development of an exercise device that allows single-to-multiple limb loading in engaging virtual exercise environments;
- A crowdsourcing platform for building accessible community-based exercise and recreation resources;
- An eHealth tele-exercise platform for increasing exercise among adults with spinal cord injury;
- A mixed methods study examining barriers and facilitators associated with adoption of universal design of fitness equipment standards by manufacturers and fitness facility managers.
Anticipated outcomes for this grant include a set of hardware and software products that will improve health, function, and quality of life among people with physical disabilities. They also will work to disseminate products and tools to stakeholders, including people with disabilities, caregivers, rehabilitation and exercise science researchers, and rehabilitation and exercise professionals, who can use them in their respective communities and professions.
The purpose of the RERC program is to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act by conducting advanced engineering research on and development of innovative technologies that are designed to solve particular rehabilitation problems or to remove environmental barriers. RERCs also demonstrate and evaluate such technologies, facilitate service delivery system changes, stimulate the production and distribution of new technologies and equipment in the private sector, and provide training opportunities.
Within ACL, NIDILRR works to generate new knowledge and promote its effective use to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities to perform activities of their choice in the community; and to expand society's capacity to provide full opportunities and accommodations for people with disabilities. NIDILRR conducts its work through grants that support research and development.