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Research Overview

The WVU CED stimulates and promotes interdisciplinary research where scientists, practitioners, and people with disabilities work together to tackle disability-related issues relevant to West Virginia. One of the key objectives of the WVU CED is improve the lives of West Virginians of all ages with disabilities by supporting diverse, inclusive communities. Our research aligns with that mission and addresses the domains of employment, access to quality health care, health and wellness, and transitions.

Research Workgroups and Projects

Physical Activity and Adaptive Leisure Workgroup

Physical Activity and Adaptive Leisure Workgroup is comprised of CED and WVU faculty and staff members who seek to engage both community residents and students with disabilities in physical activity. This involves both ensuring and improving the accessibility of the physical environment as well as access to adaptive recreation devices. Three initiatives are underway.

  • Sidewalk Accessibility

    This team, in conjunction with the Morgantown Pedestrian Safety Board and the Community Living Initiatives Corporation, is exploring campus and community accessibility issues, including the physical accessibility of sidewalks in the local municipalities and the personal accessibility West Virginia University campuses. Team members are gathering Information on accessibility through a survey completed by University students, employees, visitors, and community residents.

  • Playground Accessibility

    This initiative is to improve the accessibility of area public playgrounds, starting with those in the City of Morgantown. At the request of the state ADA Coordinator, the Physical Activity and Adaptive Leisure workgroup has collaborated with the Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living (NWVCIL), the Greater Morgantown Chamber of Commerce, the Community Living Initiatives Corporation (CLIC) and the City of Morgantown Board of Parks and Recreation on this project. Plans include installing at least one piece of adapted playground equipment (swing, see-saw, monkey bars, etc.) at each playground in the area.

  • Adaptive Bicycles

    This nascent initiative involves adapting bicycles for local children with disabilities. Workgroup members are partnering with a local bicycle shop, Wamsley Cycles, and City of Morgantown’s Board of Parks and Recreation.

Physical Activity and Adaptive Leisure Workgroup Members: Lesley Cottrell, PhD; Carmen Fullmer; Peter R. Giacobbi, Jr., PhD; Regina Mayola; Jack Steward; and Brittany Valdez (team lead).

Return to Learn Workgroup

This workgroup is investigating concussion management tools and strategies for families, schools, and medical teams. The workgroup’s mission is to increase awareness and use of best practice Return to Learn guidelines, by informing policy and practices related to students returning to a learning environment after a concussion with its twofold emphasis on legislative issues and the provision of practical tools. The workgroup’s long-term goal is to increase individuals’ successful transition back to the classroom following a traumatic brain injury. Importantly, the workgroup has established a stakeholder group whose purpose is to assess and help inform Return to Learn policy and practice recommendations from their respective disciplines.

Return to Learn Workgroup Members include Nicholas Davidson (team lead), Angela Morales, Joshua Phillips.

Disability and Obesity

This workgoup focuses on reducing the prevalence of obesity by improving modifiable lifestyle options. Projects underway include a study of children with cleft palates and their nutrition consumption, and a survey of physical activity outlets for people with disabilities.

Disability and Obesity Workgroup Members include Lesley Cottrell, PhD (lead), Amna Umner, Paige Rutter, Ashley Perdue, and Candice Hamilton.

Stress and Mental Health

This emerging workgroup will investigate the behavioral health needs of people with disabilities. Its focus will be on assessing needs, and developing, testing, and maintaining interventions to address these needs.

Current and Recent Research

Evaluation of an Online Behavioral Parent Training Curriculum for Young Children with Disruptive Behavior

Evaluation of an Online Behavioral Parent Training Curriculum for Young Children with Disruptive Behavior, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), is designed to determine the effectiveness of Family Interaction Training (FIT), a newly developed, widely accessible online behavioral parent-training program for children with disruptive behavior. FIT is for providers of family/early childhood services who work with parents of young children. The role of our evaluation team is to gauge family and provider outcomes after implementing FIT. The funding period began July 1, 2016 and will continue through June 30, 2017 with a possibility of an additional year of funding. Project principal investigators include Drs. Amy Herschell and Cheryl McNeil, from West Virginia University Department of Psychology and Dr. Susannah Poe, West Virginia University CED and Department of Pediatrics.

Autism Research

The recently completed Parent-Implemented Training for Autism through Telemedicine (PITA-T) project, funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, was an innovative collaboration between the West Virginia University (WVU) Center for Excellence in Disabilities and the WVU Department of Psychology. The study offered training in Applied Behavior Analysis to parents with children under 12 years of age who met the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder. The study examined a novel telemedicine model (asynchronous video modeling) to address service and training barriers associated with rural and low-income families in the Appalachian Region.