Rehabilitation Science Research Area

Dr. Bender-Burnett is actively researching community-based fall prevention programming, specifically assessing the effects of Kupuna Aikido on reducing fall risk and improving quality of life for community-dwelling older adults. She is working on quality measure maintenance and development, including the National Quality Forum measure endorsement process for quality performance measures based on Functional assessment of Standardized items (FASI). Most recently, Dr. Bender-Burnett has begun looking at the prevalence of Impostor Phenomenon (IP) in student physical therapists in a post-pandemic environment and the impact of self-compassion on IP.

Dr. Skye Donovan has three areas of active research with the primary goal of recruiting and retaining historically marginalized students in health sciences. She uses several methodologies to achieve this: (1) Investigation of best practices for graduate education for historically marginalized groups (2) Go Baby Go- adaptation of ride on cars to engage students in STEM fields (3) Provision of health and wellness services to rural/underserved communities.

Dr. Cathy Elrod actively works with community partners to spread information about ways to decrease the risk of falling for older adults through presentations, falls screening, and initiating falls prevention programs. Her research parallels these activities as her research interests include falls prevention and intervention strategies for older adults, factors that affect quality of life for older adults, and the influences of social issues on rehabilitation and the delivery of patient care. 

Dr. Patricia Heyn, Director of the Center for Optimal Aging, conducts research in gerontology and rehabilitation sciences. Her investigations include (1) health disparities and chronic disease prevention of people who are aging with a disability; (2) preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease with exercise and/or cognitive training; (3) evaluating protective/risk factors associated with cognitive decline and frailty; (4) health promotion, wellness, and person-centered health outcomes; and (5) evaluating emerging technologies for individuals with cognitive impairment, She is a leader in the development of innovative scientific training and mentoring activities aimed at increasing the diversity of the biomedical science workforce.

Dr. Megan W. Moran’s research is primarily in the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly in fostering leadership and professionalism. She is currently investigating the conflict physical therapy students perceive during clinical education and its impact on student learning and their overall clinical experience. She is also interested in the students’ attitudes towards digital physical therapy and the impact of educating students on this mode of delivering physical therapy. Her other projects include analyzing the use of live lecture and lab recordings and the impact of service learning on intercultural competency.

Dr. Kelly Negley’s current research investigates the best practice for the education of physical therapy and health science students to improve the student learning experience. Currently, she is exploring the impact of lecture recording technology in the classroom and laboratory setting. She also explores rehabilitation outcomes for patients with acute and neurologic conditions, and is currently working on a clinical project with Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA.

Dr. Julie Ries is passionate about bringing optimal rehabilitation care and exercise to individuals with dementia. She travels nationally and internationally educating health care professionals on how to play to the strengths of people with dementia and she is the author of a framework for successful rehabilitation interventions for this population. Her clinical research has focused on balance training and falls prevention programs for people with dementia and selecting the best outcome measures to track their clinical performance.