The Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) program at TIRR Memorial Hermann has received a $75,000 grant to advance the capabilities of individuals with disabilities – and those who acquire disabilities as they age – by studying the experience of patients who have had poliomyelitis or have other mobility impairments. Funded by the Memorial Hermann Foundation, the researchers will use the experience of patients treated at TIRR Memorial Hermann to help people with disabilities manage and coordinate their own long-term services and support systems.

Through surveys and interviews, they will learn how polio survivors have maintained a high quality of life in the community and remained resilient despite the severity of their disabilities. Information obtained from study participants will be used to create training and reference materials for peer counselors, social workers, discharge planners and others as they assist people with activities of daily living.

Richard Petty, director of the National Center for Aging and Disability and co-director of ILRU at TIRR Memorial Hermann, is principal investigator of the study. Other researchers include Michelle Putnam, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the School of Social Work at Simmons University in Boston, who is co-principal investigator, and Carolyn DaSilva, PT, DSC, professor and coordinator of DPT studies at Texas Woman’s University in Houston, who is co-investigator and principal participant recruiter. ILRU staff and graduate students from UTHealth will serve as research assistants. Members of the subject group and representatives of independent living centers will be actively engaged in research project design and evaluation.

The study, which will continue through 2019, will document how people who have experienced polio have engaged care providers and community providers to coordinate their care, and how they have arranged or plan to arrange informal and formal long-term services and support systems for themselves. It will also provide information about how to arrange home-based services and supports that may be useful to aging adults who face disability.

Winter 2019 Edition