Volume 1, 2020 Aging with a Disability: Research to Clinic


Author: Susan Taylor, OTR/L, Certified, International Society of Wheelchair Professionals
Credit: .1 CEU



Until fairly recently, there has not been a large population of individuals aging with disabilities. The first large population occurred in the 1980’s, with people who were polio survivors. The problems encountered by these people caught many of them off guard, not realizing the toll that functioning without full muscle capacity could have over time. At about the same time, medical advances facilitated people surviving spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. People with such congenital and birth-related disabilities as cerebral palsy and spina bifida survive to normal life spans.

In the last 25 years or so, there has been a great deal of research into the effects of aging with disabilities. That information has been slow to make its way to the clinical environment. Also, many of the clients that are seen with aging problems by clinicians went through rehabilitation at a time when philosophies differed markedly from today. The combination of all of these issues necessitate an understanding of all the factors involved, both the best clinical approaches as well as an awareness of research findings that can be incorporated into their own clinical practices.

This course will provide a review of the research relevant to clinical practice. A suggested approach for evaluating individuals who have been living with a disability will be reviewed.

Learning Outcomes:
1. The participant will identify 4 research studies on aging with a disability that can be used to inform clinical decision making.
2. The participant will identify 3 factors relevant to aging with a disability to consider when interviewing the client.
3. The participant will identify 2 considerations prior to making seating and mobility recommendations for a client aging with a disability.

Susan Taylor is an occupational therapist who has been practicing in the field of seating and wheeled mobility for 39 years primarily in the Chicago area at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Wheelchair and Seating Center (now the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab). Susan has published and presented nationally and internationally and has consulted on product development for a variety of manufacturers. Susan is both a member and fellow with RESNA. She is currently a member of the Resna/ANSI Wheelchair Standards Committee and the Clinician’s Task Force. She is a Certified member of the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals. Susan joined the Numotion in 2015 and is the Director of Training and Education.