Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training (ARRT) Program


The Advanced Rehabilitation Research and Training (ARRT) Program increases capacity for high-quality rehabilitation research by supporting grants to institutions to provide advanced research training to individuals with doctorates or similar advanced degrees who have clinical or other relevant experience. Grants are made to institutions to recruit qualified persons, including individuals with disabilities, and to prepare them to conduct independent research related to disability and rehabilitation, with particular attention to research areas that support the implementation and objectives of the Rehabilitation Act and that improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

This research training may integrate disciplines, teach research methodology, and promote the capacity for disability studies and rehabilitation science. Training projects must operate in interdisciplinary environments and provide training in rigorous scientific methods.

How to Apply


  • ARRT program funding mechanism accounted for 3% of NIDILRR grant funding for FY 2015.

  • 87 Fellows under 23 active awards were enrolled in the program during FY 2015.

  • Twenty-six of the 87 fellows completed their program during FY 2015.

  • In FY 2015, Fellows authored approximately 31 publications and contributed to another 13.

  • In FY 2015, an estimated 47% of Fellows in the ARRT funding program identify themselves as Latino, African American, American Indian, Asian, or Native Hawaiian.

  • View a list of currently or newly funded ARRT grants. Source: NIDILRR Online Project Directory maintained by the National Rehabilitation Information Center for NIDILRR. The search was run on October 21, 2016.

Select Accomplishments for FY 2015

Each of the accomplishments below reflects the work of not only the ARRT Fellows, but also the mentors and senior research scientists that influence and guide their work.

Guidance Issued for the Reliable Assessment of Depression in People with Multiple Sclerosis

University of Washington (Grant #90AR5013)

Investigators from the University of Washington published an article evaluating the psychometric properties of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-10 (CESD-10), and the eight-item Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Depression Short Form (PROMIS-D-8) in individuals living with multiple sclerosis.

All three instruments demonstrated strong scores on reliability and validity assessments. Findings suggest that these can be used interchangeably and with confidence by practitioners. Further, the study provides evidence to support the tools’ compatibility with PROMIS measures in the U.S. and abroad.

This research shows the tools’ similar ability to detect depression, supporting PROMIS validity in cross-national comparisons for measuring depression in clinical settings. These findings have been used by researchers and medical practitioners inquiring about the psychometric reliability and validity of the PROMIS measures in the United States and Spain.

The full citation is: Amtmann, D., Kim, J., Chung, H., Bamer, A. M., Askew, R. L., Wu, S., Cook, K. F., & Johnson, K. L. (2014). Comparing CESD-10, PHQ-9, and PROMIS depression instruments in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Rehabilitation Psychology, 59(2), 220–229.

A Comparative Analysis of Adult Siblings’ Perceptions Toward Caregiving

University of Illinois (Grant #90AR5007)

Siblings of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are likely to become caregivers for their brothers and sisters. Their expectations of and experiences with caregiving, however, may be different. Fellows from the University of Illinois used focus groups to compare the perspectives of siblings who were current caregivers to siblings who anticipated becoming caregivers.

Responses were compared and contrasted across four areas: caregiving responsibilities, rewards, challenges, and opinions toward being paid as a caregiver. Both groups were knowledgeable about and invested in their brothers and sisters and reported that they enjoyed bonding with them. For current caregivers, challenges were related to understanding and navigating the service system.

In contrast, anticipated caregivers were concerned about planning for the future. Mixed viewpoints were expressed about receiving pay for providing care although a greater number of current caregivers were receptive to it. This study provided valuable information for developing responsive interventions and support for the growing number of individuals caring for siblings.

The full citation is: Burke, M. M., Fish, T., & Lawton, K. (2015). A comparative analysis of adult siblings’ perceptions toward caregiving. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 53(2), 143–157.

Special Ultrasound Captures Changes in Stroke-Affected Muscles to Aid in Rehabilitation and Treatment

Northwestern University (Grant #90AR5010)

Researchers at Northwestern University used shear wave (SW) ultrasound elastography to examine muscle stiffness and composition in stroke-impaired muscle. The researchers found variation in SW speed and intensity measurements across the biceps muscle of the paralyzed limb compared to the non-paralyzed limb of stroke survivors when the muscle is at rest.

The outcomes suggest that paralyzed muscles may have an altered composition resulting in stiffness, which may be measured with SW elastography. Many aspects of rehabilitation therapy attempt to increase range of motion related to muscle stiffness. Clinicians and rehabilitation professionals can make more informed treatment decisions when they understand the change in their patients’ muscles, and the potential causes.

Findings from this research highlight the potential for SW elastography to be used as a tool for both investigating the mechanisms behind changes in stroke-impaired muscles, and for evaluating muscle mechanical properties as part of clinical examination or therapy.

The full citation for this research is: Lee, S. S. M., Spear, S., & Rymer, W. Z. (2015). Quantifying changes in material properties of stroke-impaired muscle. Clinical Biomechanics, 30(3), 269–275.

Robotic Arm Minimizes the Weight Load for Caregivers of Individuals with Disabilities

University of Pittsburgh (Grant #90AR5021)

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh examined the stability of a newly developed “Strong Arm,” a robotic arm that is attached and integrated with an electrical-powered wheelchair to assist with transfers, such as from the chair to a bed.

Experiments that applied different loads and used various system configurations were used to analyze system stability. When real transfers were conducted with 50 and 75 kg loads and an 83.25 kg dummy, the current Strong Arm could transfer all weights safely without tipping over. The modeling accurately predicted the stability of the system, providing a foundation for developing better control algorithms to further improve the safety of the arm.

The Strong Arm strengthens the ability of caretakers, family caregivers, or other assistants to more easily lift and transfer individuals with disabilities without risking injury. The device was patented and recently licensed to a robotic company for commercialization.

A detailed review of this research is published in: Wang, H., Tsai, C.-Y., Jeannis, H., Chung, C.-S., Kelleher, A., Grindle, G. G., & Cooper, R. A. (2014). Stability analysis of electrical powered wheelchair-mounted robotic-assisted transfer device. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(5), 761–774.


Contact Anne Ordway at NIDILRR if you have questions about the ARRT Program funding mechanism. 


Last modified on 09/30/2020

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