Researchers at UNL and Madonna to partner in rehabilitation study

Released on 05/24/2007, at 2:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., May 24th, 2007 —

University of Nebraska-Lincoln psychology professor Will Spaulding has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate with Madonna Rehabilitation Center and a number of other partners in research on the links between psychiatric and physical rehabilitation methods.

The grant will enable researchers to study clinical decision-making in community and hospital settings.

"This partnership is important, because as we study clinical decision-making processes -- for example how to design computer systems to assist clinicians making decisions -- it's very helpful to be able to look at two types of rehabilitation in two different settings," Spaulding said. "Part of our research question is, 'How specialized does a clinical information system have to be to a particular setting? Can you essentially use the same kind of system in a physical rehab setting as in a psychiatric one, or must you make special changes or modifications from one to the other?'"

The three-year, $877,652 project will also involve collaborators from the University of Southern California, Yale University and the Mental Health Center of Lancaster County. It will bring together researchers in psychiatric rehabilitation, experts in mathematical modeling, computer science and psychology, a psychologist researcher in physical rehabilitation, an experimental psychologist, and an expert in consumer interests and perspectives. Researchers will examine data from approximately 10,000 patients collected before, during and after rehabilitation. They will explore how to design modeling analyses and develop clinical data management and decision support systems.

Physical rehabilitation experts are far ahead of psychiatric rehabilitation practitioners in terms of utilizing sophisticated computer management of clinical data, Spaulding said. He said he believes that he and other psychiatric professionals have a great deal to gain from this collaboration. Likewise, his new colleagues at Madonna are prepared to benefit from the partnership.

"This is an extension of the work that Will has been doing at the Regional Center (with rehabilitation for individuals living with chronic mental illness)," said Bill Shuart, director of Madonna's Institute for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering. "Madonna's role is to serve as a second site; in our domain here we work primarily with individuals with physical disabilities. This project offers us an opportunity to see whether some of Will's approaches work equally well in rehabilitation settings that focus on other types of illnesses and injuries."

CONTACT: Will Spaulding, Professor, Psychology, (402) 472-3811