Physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs), students, and supporters of the profession shouldn’t wait until National Physical Therapy Month in October to spread the word about the importance of mobility and physical activity—September is Go4Life month, a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored campaign that provides plenty of opportunities to educate the public on the ways older Americans can stay healthy through maintaining or increasing endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
Strongly supported by APTA, Go4Life is an ongoing effort to connect the public and health care providers with information and resources related to healthy aging. In addition to information on how exercise improves health, the Go4Life website includes suggested exercises, workout videos, fitness tracking resources, and access to printed materials including infographics, posters, bookmarks, and postcards, all available for free. The program also offers a free “Speaker’s Toolkit” to help providers develop presentations to target audiences—available by emailing Go4Life@mail.nih.gov.
Has rehabilitation research arrived at a turning point? Very possibly, according to speakers who helped APTA celebrate the completion of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) rehabilitation research plan, a comprehensive reset of approaches and priorities that supporters believe will help to power up investigations into restoring function.
The celebration came in the form of a congressional briefing held on Capitol Hill December 8. Sponsored by APTA and other members of the Disability Rehabilitation Research Coalition, the event featured remarks from Rep Greg Harper (MS–3rd), Rep Jim Langevin (RI-2nd), Allison Cernich, director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) at NIH, and Rebecca Craik, PT, PhD, FAPTA, co-chair of the NIH blue ribbon panel that guided the creation of the 5-year plan. Craik is a former editor in chief of Physical Therapy, APTA’s scientific journal.
The 21st Century Cures Act—sweeping health care legislation touches on everything from mental health coverage to the regulatory approval process for new drugs—also contains some good news specifically for physical therapists (PTs) and supporters of rehabilitation research.
The bill, passed by both the US House of Representatives and the Senate, contains 2 provisions that have been high on APTA’s advocacy list: the inclusion of PTs among the health professionals permitted to enter into locum tenens arrangements, and language that will increase that stature of—and funding for—rehabilitation research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law before leaving office.
Rehabilitation research, one of APTA’s longstanding areas of advocacy, has just received a major boost with the publication of a revised National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rehabilitation Research Plan, a 5-year roadmap intended to address a broad swath of research science. Nearly 2 years in development, the revision is the first change to the plan made in over 2 decades, and was guided by a blue ribbon panel that included prominent APTA members and physical therapy researchers.
The plan, which will guide NIH support for rehabilitation medicine, addresses 6 priority areas: the need for rehabilitation research, NIH’s investment in rehabilitation research, current rehab research activities at NIH, coordination with other federal agencies, and opportunities, needs, and priorities. According to NIH, each area has witnessed significant change since the 1993 edition of the plan, attributable to everything from an increase in rehabilitation researchers and growth in evidence to advances in brain-computer interfaces and other technologies that have altered the rehabilitation landscape.
The benefits of integrating rehabilitation services into cancer care may be well-understood, but actually making it happen consistently—and doing it in ways that are truly effective—is something that will take a “multi-pronged approach,” according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) expert panel.
The panel, an interdisciplinary group of subject matter experts in fields that include physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, medicine, epidemiology, and others, took a close look at the current state of cancer rehabilitation’s clinical models, patient-reported outcomes measures, clinical objective measures of function, and interdisciplinary integration. The idea: to find out what is working, and what isn’t, and to develop a set of recommendation that would guide a national initiative toward true integration of effective cancer rehabilitation into care of the cancer survivor.
Significant improvements to research on rehabilitation—a longstanding policy priority for APTA, and an important element in accomplishing the association’s transformative vision—are at the center of proposed bipartisan legislation on Capitol Hill that aims to foster and better coordinate this type of research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Titled the Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act (S. 800; H.R. 1469), the companion bills were introduced in the Senate by Sens Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Michael Bennett (D-CO), and in the House by Reps Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Gregg Harper (R-MS) on March 19. The legislation would reform practices at NIH around how rehabilitation research is integrated across the Institute’s research centers, and how often research plans are reviewed and updated.
The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the US House of Representatives on December 11 includes some very good news for rehabilitation research, which may be enhanced in the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Among the activities getting attention: an existing grant program that Congress would like to better adhere to research definitions from a blue ribbon panel that included APTA members Rebecca Craik, PT, PhD, Anthony Delitto, PT, PhD, and Alan M. Jette, PT, PhD.
The measure allocates $30.1 billion for NIH, a $150 million increase over the current budget. Provisions in the spending authorization require the NIH Rehabilitation Coordinating Committee to host a “state of the science” conference on medical rehabilitation research, develop a plan for medical rehabilitation science, and coordinate grants in ways that follow the definitions of rehabilitation research established by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Medical Rehabilitation Research. Craik was a co-chair of the panel.
Prospects are good that government-sponsored research and data collection on traumatic brain injury (TBI) will continue now that the US House of Representatives has passed the TBI Reauthorization ACT. APTA was among the organizations advocating for the bill, and some members were on Capitol Hill when the bill passed as part of an association “fly-in” on rehabilitation research.
The measure was passed by voice vote in the House on June 25, and will now move on to the Senate. If it passes the Senate and is signed into law, the act will provide funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for TBI research and programs supporting individuals with brain injury. APTA applauds the passage of this bill in the House.
Physical therapy researchers returned to Capitol Hill June 24-25 to advocate on behalf of rehabilitation research funding, and to press for passage of a Senate bill that would better coordinate these efforts within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Coordinated by APTA and sponsored by the Section on Research, the “fly-in” involved 10 researchers from 10 states who met with staff of the House and Senate appropriations committees and their individual members of Congress to talk about the value of rehabilitation research. The researchers also urged passage of the Rehabilitation Improvement Act (S 1027), a Senate bill introduced by Sens Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Tim Johnson (D-SD), that calls for a working group comprising various NIH institutes and centers to update and streamline NIH’s rehabilitation research priorities.
A “moon shot initiative” to uncover the mysteries of brain function received significant support from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is recommending that the project be funded to the tune of $4.5 billion over the next 12 years.
A federal report recently released by NIH states that the money will be necessary to fully implement the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The new federal funding would be released over 10 years beginning in fiscal year 2016. NIH already announced an investment of $40 million in fiscal year 2014, and President Obama has made a request for $100 million for NIH’s component of the initiative in his fiscal year 2015 budget.