Our innovative research strives to impact the health and occupations of people and their communities KU faculty are leading efforts in community-engaged research to support full participation of individuals with diverse strengths and challenges in everyday life activities.
Learn about our interdisciplinary research efforts and the many ways our students participate in research.
Accessible Leisure Lab (ALL)
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 physically active recreation on health behaviors and body composition.
Occupational therapy faculty member Laurie Steen, OTR/L, CEAS I, provides clinical services and supports research through the Driving and Mobility Clinic in the Laboratory for Advanced Rehabilitation and Research In Simulation. Graduate students working in this program gain advanced clinical skills in conducting driving evaluations. They also support collaborative research with faculty from the Department of Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Science, and Athletic Training.
Parent and Behavioral Training
Research by Alice Zhang, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is focused upon increasing evidence-based service access for families of children with autism spectrum disorder and other related disorders via technology. She provides clinical services including parent training and behavioral consultation through both in-person and telehealth clinics.
She is also passionate about advocating for health care access and disability rights. She has long-standing research collaborations with the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training, and the LEND Network. Graduate students working with Zhang are involved in all aspects of the research process from design to dissemination, with emphasis on grant writing and participatory action research approach.
Sensory Experiences and Participation
Investigating sensory experiences and interventions promoting participation in everyday life, particularly feeding, Lauren Foster, OTD, OTR/L, collaborates with a speech language pathologist to investigate the effects of a community-based responsive feeding therapy on tube-weaning.
Her other collaborative studies investigate the effects of sensory garments on sleep and participation among children with autism spectrum disorders. Students working with Foster gain skills in program evaluation and qualitative research. Training emphasizes data collection and management, intervention fidelity, and scholarly writing.
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.
Neurological Assessment & Neuroscience
The goal of the Borrell Lab is to assess the brain after injury and use this information to drive rehabilitation. Its recent published study examines phantom limb therapy in a targeted muscle reinnervation amputee.
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.
Students in the doctoral program in therapeutic science enter with research questions derived from their clinical experiences. Students will develop a plan of study with the program director to be supported by faculty within and outside the department.
"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."- Kelly Trowbridge, Ph.D., Class of 2015, family and individual therapist in private practice at Transforming Praxis, LLC http://transformingpraxis.com