Therapeutic Science is a field of study emphasizing an enhanced understanding of the consequences for an individual related to health conditions, rather than a study of the health condition itself.
KU offers a Ph.D. in therapeutic science degree as an interdisciplinary program involving faculty across a variety of departments and schools at KU. This program provides the interdisciplinary training at a doctoral level, necessary to address a spectrum of issues related to health and disability. The program is administered through the Department of Occupational Therapy Education in the KU School of Health Professions.
This program is designed for motivated students with a research-focused interest in exploring the intersection of activities, disability, and quality of life that requires an integrated, interdisciplinary course of study that cannot be provided by existing programs.
Typically, applicants will already have obtained research-based academic or professional master's degrees, and may have a professional credential or identity (e.g., occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, licensed clinical social worker, clinical psychologist, special educator). Many therapeutic science Ph.D. students currently work in their chosen field related to issues of disability and wish to generate knowledge to further the understanding of disability and to improve quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.
Areas of Study
The interaction of impairment, activity, social participation, and a host of dynamic contextual factors provides a basis for understanding the impact of disability on an individual's life, and a means to strategically approach optimizing interaction of each person with his or her physical, social, and psychological environments.
Given these complex and changing constellations of influences, adopting an interdisciplinary approach offers a potent means to produce systematic knowledge leading to improvements in quality of life for individuals with disabilities and for their families. This approach requires a "melding of knowledge from several disciplines to understand the fundamental nature of the enabling-disabling process, that is, how disabling conditions develop, progress, and reverse, and how biological, behavioral, and environmental factors can affect these transitions" (Brant & Pope, 1997, p.4).
The evidence-based knowledge arising from an effective application of interdisciplinary principles coupled with an informed understanding of an individual’s goals and contexts can be synthesized to produce to strategies to prevent or remove functional impairments, and minimize disabling processes leading to further impairment and limitations. Students in the program will study and implement processes of knowledge generation and translate these into practice. It is anticipated this insight and skill set will fundamentally enhance the student’s approach to a professional career supporting of people with disabilities, their families, and their communities.