UIC awarded $4.5 million to create exercise technologies for people with disabilities

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers will use a $4.5 million grant to help make recreation and fitness activities and programs more accessible to people with disabilities.

The five-year grant, from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, will be used to create a rehabilitation engineering research center focused on recreational technologies and exercise physiology.

"Research shows that regular physical activity helps to reduce the risk of a number of serious health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, depression and high-blood pressure," said James Rimmer, a UIC professor of disability and human development. "The goal of the new Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center is to help the more than 54 million Americans with disabilities gain greater access to fitness and recreation opportunities through the use of existing and future technologies."

Rimmer is principal investigator on the project. William Schiller, a UIC clinical assistant professor of disability and human development, is a co-investigator.

The grant will fund a coordinated set of 11 research, development and training projects. It will enable Rimmer and his colleagues to complete a needs assessment and collect data on available technology, develop virtual exercise environments, create fitness equipment that adapts to individual users, and use tele-exercise to promote exercise activity for people living in rural areas or who cannot easily leave home.

In addition to technical research, the grant will also fund a partnership with the American College of Sports Medicine to train professionals and students in exercise physiology in the area of physical activity and disability.

Rimmer noted that there are many barriers keeping people with disabilities from participating in the physical activity and recreation most of us take for granted. The new center will develop technologies to overcome or eliminate those barriers, he said

Contact: Nan Hoffman
University of Illinois at Chicago

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