The Catholic University of America and the National Rehabilitation Hospital are developing technological programs that will allow patients to recover from head injuries and strokes at home under the watchful eyes of therapists miles away.
Patients will be able to simply call their physical therapists and turn on television monitors to receive medical guidance and support.
The university and the hospital will work together with a third partner, the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis, under a $4.5 million federal grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to establish a Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. The Sister Kenny Institute will be the rural testing ground for the Centers innovative products and procedures.
"Managed care allows for a limited time of hospital stay and patients often need encouragement and reinforcement to continue therapy," said Jack Winters, professor ofbiomedical engineering at Catholic University and the programs co-director. "The instruments and programs we develop will make patients lives easier and rehabilitation more effective, whether they live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland or the inner city of Washington."
Mike Rosen, director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Service at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, is the centers other co-director. He looks forward "to the continued growth of the Catholic University-NRH research and development axis on which a national center of innovation is emerging in telerehabilitation, home health technology and devices to increase independence for people with disabilities."
The new center will use technology to explore four paths of telerehabilitation.
Grant funds will be used to evaluate potentially powerful communication and information technologies and refurbish and expand laboratories at Catholic University and NRH.
Funds will also be used to support research engineers, therapists and doctors at NRH and faculty, staff and students at CUA as they research and develop products to be used in doctors offices and clinics by caregivers on one end of the phone line and in homes of patients on the other end.
Catholic University, the national university of the Catholic Church, was established in 1887 as a graduate and research center by the U.S. Catholic bishops and today has 105 graduate programs and 91 bachelors programs. The biomedical engineering program is one of 22 undergraduate programs in the country. Programs are available in biomedical design, biomedical instrumentation, biomedical systems and controls, bioimaging, human-computer interfaces and neuromusculoskeletal mechanics.
The National Rehabilitation Hospital, opened in 1986, is the only freestanding, comprehensive medical rehabilitation hospital in the Washington, D.C., area, and has been named five times to the "Best Hospitals" list compiled annually by U.S. News & World Report. NRHs Rehabilitation and Engineering Service offers innovative technology-related solutions to assist people with disabilities in being as independent and functional as possible. It is home to the Assistive Technology Research Center, a collaborative effort between NRH and the U.S. Army to apply military technologies to medical rehabilitation.
Program Co-director Jack Winters is available for interviews: call 202-319-5843 or call Anne Smith or Annamarie DeCarlo, Office of Public Affairs at The Catholic University of America, 202-319-5600.
Victor Nakas, National Rehabilitation Hospital, 202-877-1773.
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