The only center in the United States devoted to the study and development of assistive devices for older persons with disabilities, housed at the University at Buffalo, has received $2.5 million in federal funds to continue its work through 2001.
The grant for UB's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Aging is from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, which provided a $2.5 million grant in 1991 to help establish the center. During the center's first 5 years, its researchers initiated the first study of the need for assistive devices by older persons living at home and developed several new devices.
They also conducted architectural research into home modifications for the aging disabled, established a research database on patterns of assistive device use and began multiple new education, resource and service programs for consumers, health care professionals and device suppliers and manufacturers.
According to William Mann, PhD, Chair of the UB Department of Occupational Therapy and director of the center, "One of the major research components of the center is the Consumer Assessments Study, which is a longitudinal investigation of the health, psychosocial and functional status of frail, older persons living at home and how they cope with impairments. The new funding will allow us to collect data for a total of 10 years, and to continue to follow participants who move into nursing homes. During the first 5 years of the study, we stopped following participants when they left the home setting."
The center's work for the next 5 years will cover: research (10 projects), device development (for automobiles, obesity, mobility, balance, stairs and public seating), education (four projects aimed at students, graduate students, and health care professionals in rehabilitation and aging); and information (10 projects including videos, booklets, training manuals, resources for hotels and motels).