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Research is at the heart of what we do. Our faculty are leading efforts to improve outcomes across a diverse range of ages and health concerns.

Learn about our interdisciplinary research efforts and the many ways our students participate in research.

Faculty Research Focus Areas

Social Participation & Neurological Conditions

Accessible Leisure

The major goal of ongoing research by Lisa Mische Lawson, Ph.D., CTRS, is to promote the health of individuals with disabilities and chronic illness through leisure and physical activity.

This research team investigates factors impeding or facilitating leisure participation and the effects of physical activity on health behaviors and body composition. Mische Lawson directs KU Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, a swimming and water safety program for children with autism spectrum disorders. Her research specifically focuses on the effects of water-based physical activity on health outcomes of children with autism.

Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Kelli Reiling Ott's research builds on her extensive clinical experiences, including interprofessional clinic consultation for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, seating and mobility assessments and involvement in a community-based program for individuals with multiple sclerosis.

Additional Research in this Area

  • Joan Augustyn—Multiple Sclerosis
  • Laurie Steen—Driving Rehab
  • Dory Sabata—Stroke
  • Lauren Foster—Supports for adults and children with disabilities
"Take advantage of the OT faculty’s clinical experience. Many [have] research, clinical practices or outreach community programs that you can gain valuable experience from to help with your professional development."

Educational Methodologies

Dory Sabata, OTD, OTR/L, studies teaching and learning methodology, interprofessional education and practice and community participation and health of persons with stroke.

She developed year-long service-learning opportunities for entry-level occupational therapy students and championed interprofessional education. In addition, she now leads the department to develop and implement innovative educational methodologies.

Sabata's research of educational methodologies and community participation of stroke survivors is intertwined. Students are trained to support stroke survivors to participate in community activities. Research projects investigate both the effectiveness of educational methodologies and participation outcomes.

Additional Research in this Area

  • Rebecca Nicholson, OTD, OTR/L, studies teaching and learning methodology including fieldwork education and telehealth in rural Kansas.
  • Joan Augustyn, OTD, OTR/L—teaching methodologies, health care simulation, fieldwork education
  • Kelli Reiling Ott—health care simulation, fieldwork education
  • Janis Davis—therapeutic listening

Neurological Assessment & Neuroscience

Rehabilitation of Concussion Injuries

Research by Jeff Radel, Ph.D., studies biophysical and social risk factors for concussions and other causes of traumatic brain injury. Of particular interest is the subset of patients who are slow to recover full function after brain injury and those individuals continuing to experience persistent post-concussion symptoms that often limit the return to normal activities.

An important focus is the evaluation of factors influencing the trajectory of recovery and the study of social factors influencing participation by parents, students, teachers, and school officials behaviors and activities that risk concussion injury.

Visual Neuroscience

By studying animal models of brain development and retinal function, Jeff Radel, Ph.D., is exploring experimental perturbations in the developing brain. His work has examined dietary fatty acids in relation to brain and retina development, and vascular pathology of the retina after perinatal oxygen exposure (a model of retinopathy of maturity in humans).

Student Research

Learn about the research efforts of students in our Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science program.

View Student Projects

"I teach mindfulness and meditation, support staff directly, do research incorporating mindfulness and mediation and work within the health care system to advance practices that support well-being. In addition to my work at Children’s Mercy, I’ve also taken the opportunity to use my skills in the community. I have a family and individual therapy practice, Transforming Praxis and a mindfulness colleague and I also share the practice of meditation and mindfulness in the community through our company Mindable."
KU School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy Education
KU Medical Center

3901 Rainbow Blvd  MS2003
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-7195 • 711 TTY