Item of Interest: NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation Now Available

Plan shares progress since 2016, highlights research themes and objectives

Cover of the NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released its 2021 Research Plan on Rehabilitation (PDF 1.51 MB) to guide trans-NIH efforts at improving the health and lives of people across a wide range of ability levels. Development of the 2021 plan was led by NICHD’s National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), which heads the Medical Rehabilitation Coordinating Committee and coordinates rehabilitation research activities across NIH.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four American adults has at least one disability of some kind. Disabilities affect not only those who experience these challenges firsthand, but also those who support and care for them. Rehabilitation aims to help people living with disabilities to achieve and maintain their full potential, and to help support families and communities.

The 2021 plan will help guide NIH’s rehabilitation research programs and projects to advance the science of rehabilitation medicine for the next five years. NCMRR published its first research plan in 1993, a few years after the center’s creation as part of an amendment to the Public Health Service Act. NCMRR led the creation of the first trans-NIH research plan in 2016, as well as the updates and revisions to that plan that are reflected in the 2021 NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation.

NIH’s rehabilitation portfolio is broad, addressing the basic biological processes underlying disabilities, to sociology and behavioral research, to research on mobility aids and assistive devices. Most NIH institutes and centers fund or conduct some aspect of rehabilitation research. In addition, the NIH Common Fund and other components of the NIH Office of the Director support several programs that align with the goals of rehabilitation research.

The current plan continues six themes established in 2016:

  • Rehabilitation Across the Lifespan
  • Community and Family
  • Technology Use and Development
  • Research Design and Methodology
  • Translational Science
  • Building Research Capacity and Infrastructure

The 2021 plan was developed over several years and incorporates input from researchers, professional societies, advocacy and support organizations, stakeholders across government, and members of the public.

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