Five Federal Research Designations - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Five Federally Designated Research Programs

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.

1. Health and Function in Physical Disability

brain scans

NIDILRR 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 NIDILRR, 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. Spinal Cord Injury

spinal cord injury

NIDILRR: Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System

RIC is the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System as designated by NIDILRR. 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™.

3. 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.

4. Manipulation and Mobility Technologies

NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Manipulation and Mobility Technologies

A NIDILRR-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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5. Computers and Robots in Therapy

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

An internationally acclaimed NIDILRR-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.