Eight Federal Research Designations - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Eight Federally Designated Research Programs

No other rehabilitation hospital in the nation carries eight research designations from U.S. government agencies, including the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the National Institutes of Health, to develop breakthrough treatments.

RIC's research discoveries set new standards and protocols in rehabilitation hospitals around the world. RIC regularly publishes research in the world's foremost medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the European medical journal, The Lancet.

Learn more about each of our federal research designations below.

RIC's eight federally funded research programs

1. Health and Function in Physical Disability

brain scans

NIDRR Rehabilitation Research & Training Center: Developing Optimal Strategies in Exercise and Survival Skills to Increase Health and Function, DOSESS

Empowering people with disabilities to achieve and maintain their well-being, independent physical functioning, and community participation, requires an in-depth understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of health and function. This Rehabilitation and Training Center, funded by NIDRR, was created to develop, evaluate, and implement methods to promote optimal health and function of people with physical disabilities. Through a variety of research, training and dissemination activities, we expect to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the efficacy and value of various interventions for achieving and maintaining health and function for people with a disability. The Center’s projects will explore the role of motor priming and intensity of training to improve walking ability, determine the optimal dosing of intensive aphasia treatments, and develop a peer health navigator program that will improve the ability of people with disabilities to access community resources and the social environment. We will measure the economic and social value of each project.  

2. Neurologic Rehabilitation


NIH National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research R24: Engineering for Neurologic Rehabilitation Program

RIC is one of six programs in the country within the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Within this network of experts, we are the only one focused on the groundbreaking application of neural engineering and robotic techniques to understand, diagnose and treat neurologic disorders such as brain injury, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

3. Spinal Cord Injury

spinal cord injury

NIDRR: Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System

RIC is the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System as designated by NIDRR. One of only 14 SCI Model Systems nationwide, we advance spinal cord care through clinical research that identifies new standards of care for the industry. RIC leads multiple independent and collaborative research projects exploring walking therapy technologies that deliver the most effective treatment to advance ability™.

4. Engineering Research


NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Machines Assisting Recovery from Stroke

Machines assist therapists in providing longer, more consistent and intensive therapies, that track progress and improve functional performance. RIC is one of 20 NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers dedicated to stroke research and the only focused on robotics.

5. Outcomes Research


NIDRR: Outcomes Rehabilitation Research & Training Center

RIC uses therapies that are proven to create the best outcomes. That's our passion. We strive to provide the most cost-efficient solutions too. RIC is the only NIDRR Outcomes Rehabilitation Research & Training Center in the nation leading the way for establishing standardized measures and evaluating clinical outcomes to ensure patients receive the best care and best outcomes.

6. Orthopedic Robotics for Kids

orthopedics for kids

NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Technologies for Children with Orthopedic Disabilities

The only RERC dedicated to improving the lives of children, NIDRR chose RIC's extensive expertise in robotics and our track record of product development for its Technologies for Children with Orthopedic Disabilities research center. RIC's collaborative research integrates robots and virtual reality to motivate children in their treatment and develop neuroplasticity in the brain.

7. Manipulation and Mobility Technologies

NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Manipulation and Mobility Technologies

A NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center award to fund six new projects researching innovations that are directly useful for patients, especially those who have experienced limb-loss or stroke. Projects include body-powered hand prostheses, use of powered exoskeleton for after-stroke patients, and a new wheelchair to allow both sitting and standing. Research will include both technology development and clinical testing.

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8. Computers and Robots in Therapy

NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Time and Place for Computers and Robots in Therapy

An internationally acclaimed NIDRR-funded center especially for patients with hemispheric stroke – the most debilitating kind. Seven studies address two elemental questions: When is the optimal time to use robotic and computer-based systems during therapy, and how do therapists best interact with robotic devices during therapy, often with minimal hands-on treatment coming from the clinician? Training of undergraduate rehabilitation engineers is included.