Center for Outcomes and Assessments Research

impossible dream sail couple on boat man in wheelchair

Center for Outcomes and Assessment Research

Achieving Better Community Living for People with Disabilities

Quality of life after a spinal cord injury is influenced by many factors – personal, socioeconomic, cultural and environmental. To help all people with disabilities achieve their best possible quality of life, outcomes researchers study the impact of these factors on their health, their daily activities, and participation in school, work, and community activities.  

Gianfranco Gervasio spinal cord injury patient in a wheelchair

Adjusting to Life after Spinal Cord Injury

Adjusting to life in the community can be challenging for people with recent spinal cord injury. A short course of group therapy may help individuals develop the confidence and skills necessary to fully participate at home, in the community, and the workplace. If found to improve outcomes, this approach may serve as a model for supporting the transition of individuals with spinal cord injury from rehabilitation to fulfilling lives in the community.

outGeneral socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions infographic

Investigating the Influence of Personal Factors

Some people with spinal cord injury do better than others in achieving fulfilling lives. Finding out why is the initial step toward developing solutions to the health disparities that impact quality of life. To determine the reasons that underlie poor outcomes, scientists examine associations between personal and cultural factors, such as age, gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as employment history and education level.  

US Map of Disability Belt

Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, is leading research on the U.S. Disability Belt, examining spikes of high levels of disability in geographic areas. 

Exploring the Impact of Environmental Factors

Regional differences in health and disability prevalence across the U.S. are associated with differences in quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Using information from national databases enables researchers to delve into the lifestyle, health, and socioeconomic factors that contribute to the disparities comprising the U.S. Disability Belt. This research guides the development of policies and programs toward areas of greatest need.  

night view cityscape

Focusing on the Community Level

Health disparities can be traced to the types of communities where people with spinal cord injury reside. By linking patient data with geographic and geospatial information systems (GIS) data, scientists are learning how different types of neighborhoods influence long-term health and disability for people with physical disabilities, including SCI. This research shows that to foster full social participation of people with physical disabilities, policymakers need to consider the physical characteristics of the places where people live.


ian betz veteran with spinal cord injury

Identifying Barriers to Care for Veterans

All veterans with spinal cord injury do not receive the same healthcare and benefits, resulting in health disparities and a range of outcomes in this population. To determine the causes of these disparities, researchers study data on age, duration of injury, type of injury (service- or nonservice-connected), and type of benefits for disability and healthcare. Linking these factors with outcomes helps identify ways to improve quality of life for veterans with spinal cord injury. 


  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Denise Fyffe, PhD and Nathan Hogaboom, PhD present “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Wheelchair Repairs, Breakdowns and Consequences in SCI“ at the 2018 6th Annual Kessler NeuroTrauma Conference.

  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Denise Fyffe, PhD presents “Exploring Racial/Ethnic Contextual Factors Associated with Functional Independence in SCI“ at the 2018 6th Annual Kessler NeuroTrauma Conference.

  • Audio Description

    PODCAST: Denise Fyffe, PhD a panelist at Kessler Foundations' "REBUILDING FUTURES FOR OUR NATION’S HEROES: Innovations in Research and Employment for Veterans" cultivation event shares her ideas on developing innovative interventions to improve outcomes for people with spinal cord injury.

Man in wheelchair on the left and man with lab coat on the right

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