KU School of Health Professions launches KU CARES, a new center seeking to improve the lives of people living with disability
The KU Center for Community Access, Rehabilitation Research, Education and Service (KU CARES) will develop and implement innovative rehabilitation strategies to improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities in Kansas and nationwide.
The University of Kansas School of Health Professions today announced the formation of the KU Center for Community Access, Rehabilitation Research, Education and Service (KU CARES), which will focus on preventing disability and maximizing quality of life in persons living with a disability.
More than 25% of Americans have a disability that negatively impacts their quality of life, and 27% of adults in Kansas have a disability. Disabilities include development delays, communication difficulties, cognitive issues and mobility impairments.
KU School of Health Professions already features a wide variety of degree programs and research in various disciplines that assist people with disabilities, from rehabilitation science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology and audiology, to dietetics and nutrition and even a doctoral program focused on therapeutic science.
According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a critical need for rehabilitation research to better understand the mechanisms and interventions that prevent, improve, restore or replace lost, underdeveloped or deteriorating function in individuals living with disability.
“With the creation of KU CARES, the School of Health Professions is now well positioned to apply for center grants that will significantly increase research activities in the school and contribute in meaningful and innovative ways to the improvement of the health and well-being of individuals living with disability in Kansas and beyond,” said Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D., MPH, MBA, dean of KU School of Health Professions.
Jacob J. Sosnoff, Ph.D., associate dean of research in KU School of Health Professions and professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science, and Athletic Training, pointed out that the new center also will serve as a resource for researchers within KU Medical Center’s three schools and numerous research centers that are interested in developing and implementing rehabilitation interventions. Membership will be open to local and regional investigators as well.
“KU CARES will leverage existing strengths in rehabilitation research across campus and support developing and implementing innovative interventions to maximize the quality of life of individuals living with disability,” Sosnoff said. “A central component of the center is to ensure that the state-of-art rehabilitation interventions are suitable for everyone in Kansas.”
The new center also will benefit students in KU School of Health Professions in a couple of ways, said Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition and professor of clinical nutrition in KU School of Health Professions.
“KU CARES will lead to increased synergy among KU researchers and increase funding to support rehabilitation research on campus. The increased research funding will then lead to more funding to support students,” she said.
Another benefit to students will be the enhanced opportunities to collaborate and work with students from different programs and different schools within KU Medical Center, Sullivan said.
“KU Medical Center is already known for its strong interprofessional education (IPE), and KU CARES will strengthen the IPE activities on campus,” Sullivan added. “Students from all professions will be able to work on research together to improve the lives of people with disabilities.”