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CU PM&R Pilot Awards

Funding to Faculty Members


The Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Research Core is pleased to provide Pilot Award funding to Faculty members through its semi-annual Research Pilot Award competition. The objective of the Pilot Award competition is to enhance the value and effectiveness of pilot research conducted within the Department to accomplish three objectives:

  1. Improve the health outcomes of the rehab population
  2. Enhance the patient experience of care (including quality, access and reliability)
  3. Provide departmental researchers the opportunity to collect quality data to leverage future funding

We are currently in the Spring 2017 Pilot Award cycle. Fall 2017 application information will be made available in summer 2017.

Current Pilot Award Cycle

Historical Pilot Award Cycles

Application Instructions

Current Pilot Award Cycle

We are currently in the Spring 2017 Pilot Award cycle. The Research Core received several impressive proposals this round. After Committee review, the Research Core would like to congratulate Dr. Dawn Magnusson and Dr. Meredith Mealer as recipients of the Spring 2017 Pilot Award. Funding for the following proposals is available 3/1/2017 – 2/28/2018:

Principal Investigator: Dawn Magnusson, PT, PhD
Project Title: Development of a novel decision aid to improve early identification and intervention for children with developmental delay
Project Abstract: In the United States (US), one in four children under the age of five years is at risk for experiencing developmental delay (DD). Early identification of DD during the well-child visit, and use of pediatric therapy services are essential for optimizing the health and well-being of children with DD. Evidence-based developmental surveillance and screening (DSS) guidelines and service recommendations are intended to support children with DD, yet such guidelines do not guarantee that children with DD will receive needed therapy services. Children from racial or ethnic minority groups, and low-income children are especially vulnerable when it comes to having their delays identified and service needs met. The mechanisms underlying these disparities are not fully understood; however, there is mounting evidence that parental health beliefs play an important role in shaping help-seeking pathways for children with DD. It may be that evidence-based guidelines and recommendations, presented during the well-child visit, use concepts and language that lack meaning among community members. The short-term objective of this project is to translate evidence-based DSS guidelines and service recommendations into a culturally- and linguistically-meaningful decision aid to help reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in the early identification of children with DD and their use of pediatric therapy services. To achieve this objective, the study team will conduct in-depth interviews with key community stakeholders to assess their beliefs regarding the help-seeking pathway for children with DD, and the use of DSS guidelines and service recommendations to inform this pathway (Aim 1).
Through the process of Boot Camp Translation, the team will identify factors that promote or impede the integration of standard DSS guidelines and service recommendations with community beliefs regarding the help-seeking pathway for children with DD (Aim 2), and develop a novel DSS decision aid that integrates evidence-based guidelines and service recommendations with community beliefs regarding this help-seeking pathway (Aim 3). The long-term goal of this research is to employ community-based participatory research methods as a means of developing innovative models of care that promote shared decision-making between parents and clinicians, and that advance health equity for underserved populations of children with DD. This goal closely aligns with the mission of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in improving the health and well-being of children with DD in Colorado, enhancing clients’ experiences and shared decision-making capabilities, and increasing children’s access to services. This project builds upon Dr. Magnusson’s previous work exploring racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in the identification of children with DD, and in unmet need for pediatric therapy services. Findings from this study will be used as leverage in a Mentored Research Scientist Career Development (K01) Award through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality assessing the usability, feasibility, and potential impact of the decision aid on primary and secondary child health outcomes.
 
Principal Investigator: Meredith Mealer, RN, PhD
Project Title: The feasibility and acceptability of a written exposure therapy (WET) intervention in critical care rehabilitation nurses.
Project Abstract: There has been a growing need for interdisciplinary rehabilitation teams in specialty areas such as the intensive care unit (ICU). Survivors of the ICU may experience new or worsening impairments in physical functioning, cognitive functioning and/or mental health, which is also known as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS). Early rehabilitation support from the interdisciplinary team is crucial to reduce complications associated with PICS. However, rehabilitation in the ICU creates a stressful environment for members of the interdisciplinary team; particularly critical care rehab nurses. Critical care rehab nurses have significantly higher rates of psychological distress including: symptoms of anxiety and depression, burnout syndrome (BOS), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Burnout Syndrome (BOS) is a work related mental health condition defined by three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. As mounting expectations and inherent stresses have increased in the workplace, BOS is reaching epidemic proportions in the healthcare profession. Being a critical care nurse is a challenging and sometimes overwhelming profession due to high patient mortality and morbidity, and daily confrontations with ethical dilemmas.
These disorders initiate a negative cycle resulting in decreased quality of patient care, nurse productivity, staff morale and an unacceptably high ICU nursing turnover rate of at least 17-20% per year. ICU nursing turnover is expensive costing in excess of $65,000 for each newly hired critical care nurse. Presently, there are no interventions to reduce BOS in ICU rehab nurses. Because many of the stresses on ICU rehab nurses are inherent to caring for critically ill patients, we have focused on enhancing the ability of ICU nurses to adapt to their work environment. Resilience is a multidimensional psychological characteristic that enables one to thrive in the face of adversity and bounce back from hardships and trauma. Importantly, resilience can be learned. Developed over 30 years ago, expressive writing or written exposure therapy was founded on the principal that the suppression of previous traumatic events inhibits the ability to cope with traumatic experiences. We will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of a written exposure therapy based resilience intervention in ICU rehab nurses. In this pilot application, we propose two aims: Aim #1 will evaluate and refine the acceptability of the written exposure therapy intervention; and Aim #2 will evaluate the feasibility of the written exposure therapy intervention.

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Historical Pilot Award Cycles

Fall 2016 Award

Principle Investigator: Scott Laker, MD
Project Title: Factors Influencing Parental Return-to-Play Decisions in Post Adolescent Sport-Related Concussions: A Mixed-Methods Exploratory Study
Project Abstract: This is a mixed-methods exploratory study of factors influencing parental concerns regarding their children’s return to play (RTP) following a sports related-concussion (SRC). The study participants will be the parents of adolescents (age 13-18 years) that present to the Children’s’ Hospital Colorado Concussion Program with a SRC. We will recruit 100 participants (parents of adolescents with SRC) to complete a quantitative survey. Twenty of these individuals will also be asked to participate in a qualitative, telephonic interview. As part of regular clinical care, all patients and parents complete a standardized intake questionnaire that includes injury mechanism and characteristics, a symptom severity scale, data about past medical and surgical history, and additional historical information. Permissions will be obtained to use this data. As part of the proposed study protocol, one parent will complete a quantitative pen and paper survey to ascertain factors associated with their child’s current injury that they expect will influence their decision to allow their child to RTP. This survey will also be used to gather information regarding demographics including socioeconomic status, and baseline concussion knowledge. The same parent will be invited to complete a qualitative, telephonic interview, delivered by our post-doctoral team member, to increase understanding regarding factors associated with the parent’s decision making about their child’s RTP. These quantitative and qualitative data will be analyzed to highlight parental concerns in RTP decisions, and to determine if there are any observations that warrant further study.

Spring 2014 Awards:

Principle Investigator: Jeffrey Hebert, PT, PhD, MSCS
Project Title: Associations between persistent symptoms and balance dysfunction in Veterans with chronic mild traumatic brain injury
Project Abstract: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a growing concern for many military Veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Postconcussive symptoms (PCS) including dizziness, fatigue and impaired balance are common manifestations of mTBI. Moreover, these PCS symptoms have been found to persist well beyond the onset of mTBI. What is not well understood at this time is how these PCS-related factors correlate, and if they are influenced by other mTBI-related problems including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Additionally, why PCS-related symptoms persist in a portion of Veterans with prior mTBI, but not all, also remains elusive. The primary objective of the study is to investigate the potential associations between dizziness, fatigue, dynamic standing balance and mobility-based balance in Veterans with chronic mTBI. The study will also test the relationship between these factors and mental health conditions including PTSD and depression. The specific aims of the proposed study are to determine: 1) if self-reported levels of dizziness and fatigue are related to dynamic standing balance and mobility-based balance in participants with > 6 months post-mTBI; 2) the relationship between self-reported levels of dizziness and fatigue, and the relationship between dynamic standing balance and mobility-based balance, in participants with > 6 months post-mTBI; and 3) the relationship between self-reported levels of PTSD symptoms and depression with dizziness, fatigue, dynamic standing balance and mobility-based balance in participants with > 6 months post-mTBI. The aims of the proposed study will be accomplished by implementing a crosssectional observational trial. The study is designed to recruit military Veterans with at least a 6-month history of mTBI, with a goal of enrolling and testing 35 participants. Participants will be asked to complete a battery of questionnaires measuring different perceived levels of PCS symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and depression. Additionally, participants will perform tests of balance. Dynamic standing balance during multiple sensory input challenges will be measured using the SMART Balance Master®, a computerized dynamic posturography test/sensory organization test (SOT). Mobility-based balance, walking while performing multiple higher level balance-challenging tasks, will be measured using the Community Balance and Mobility (CB&M) scale, a 13-item test that challenges balance and mobility tasks based on speed, precision, accuracy, multi-tasking and sequencing necessary for function and participation in the community. The ability to define what manifestations of mTBI are most likely to explain the reasons for the persistent balance and symptom-related PCS in certain Veterans with mTBI could lead to more focused treatment decisions and research aims. The results of this study will provide data for larger grant submissions to test: 1) how levels of PTSD and depression influence the relationships between dizziness, fatigue and balance; 2) the effectiveness of an exercise-based treatment aimed at improving balance and related PCS symptoms of dizziness and fatigue for Veterans with chronic mTBI.
 
Principle Investigator: Cory Christiansen, PT, PhD
Project Title: Movement Strategies and Physical Activity after Dysvascular Amputation
Project Abstract: Over 1 million Americans currently live with lower-limb amputation and the number is expected to more than double by 2050. More than 80% of all lower-limb amputations result from vascular complications due to diseases such as severe diabetes mellitus and/or severe peripheral artery disease, known as dysvascular amputation. Patients with dysvascular amputation have difficulty achieving and sustaining independent ambulation with a prosthesis and have low levels of physical activity. Such poor ambulation and physical activity outcomes are likely linked to the compensatory movement patterns that patients adopt following dysvascular amputation. Therefore, the overall aim of this investigation is to improve our understanding of the compensatory movement patterns adopted by patients with unilateral transtibial amputation to achieve independent ambulation and assess how the movement compensations relate to overall physical activity and disability. To identify compensatory movement strategies after dysvascular amputation, a group of participants with diabetes and unilateral transtibial amputation (EXP group) will be compared to a group of participants with diabetes and no major lower limb amputation (CTL group) using measurements of whole-body and body-segment angular momentum. Whole-body and body-segment angular momentum will be measured using 3-dimensional instrumented motion analysis while participants perform level-ground walking (primary functional task), as well as 90 degree turns and stepping up/down onto stair steps. We expect that the EXP group will have 1) higher variability in movement patterns, 2) higher peak to-peak ranges in whole-body angular momentum and larger segmental momentum contributions to whole-body angular momentum, and 3) higher segmental contributions to whole-body angular momentum from the torso/pelvis and contralateral limb compared to the CTL group. Identifying specific compensatory movement pattern characteristics following unilateral transtibial amputation (dysvascular) will provide a basis for developing targeted rehabilitation assessment tools and intervention strategies. In addition, we will examine the correlations that compensatory movement strategies have with gait speed, overall physical activity, and participant-reported disability.

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Application Instructions

We have awarded the Spring 2017 Pilot Awards. Fall 2017 application information will be made available in summer 2017.

Please direct inquiries to CUPMR.Research@ucdenver.edu.