Engaged Research

As part of the Program in Occupational Therapy’s ongoing mission, our faculty engages in innovative research every day and constantly pursues funding for projects that can enhance community health. These research initiatives have a direct impact on people with disabilities, chronic health conditions or those at-risk in their jobs and at home. Below are examples of research projects that lead to real life improvements in community health across the continuum of care.

Expanding Fitness to Drive

The work of Peggy Barco, OTD, OTR/L, SCDCM, in the Driving and Community Mobility Laboratory focuses on studying medical fitness to drive in various populations including older adults with dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and visual disorders. She works in collaboration with David Carr, MD, and is funded by Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT).

Barco's current research project focuses on the development of the Traffic Sign Naming Test (TSNT), which has face validity related to the IADL of driving. The TSNT is a common test used by driving rehabilitation specialists and licensing agencies during testing and/or renewal. However, test administration and scoring procedures are not standardized. In collaboration with Missouri Department of Revenue and Missouri Department of Transportation Division of Highway Safety, Barco is standardizing the test, developing training materials and determining the test’s effectiveness in predicting safe driving performance in older adults with medical impairment. This project will also study the unique challenges in performing comprehensive driving evaluations for older adults who live in rural environments by modifying the on-road assessment and addition of the novel functional assessments. Fitness to drive evaluations for this project are offered to persons with dementia who meet the inclusion criteria and by medical referral. These evaluations are provided at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis (TRISL).

Home Hazard Removal Program

The Home Hazard Removal Program (HARP), funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, aims to implement an effective home-modification intervention to prevent falls through local Area Agencies on Aging. The principal investigator, Susy Stark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, used community-engaged research approaches to receive input from both older adults and service providers in order to adapt an existing program that was successfully implemented in Australia to work within the aging services network in the United States. The adapted program is now undergoing pilot testing with older adults in the St. Louis Area.

The Performance, Environment and Participation Laboratory team works with the St. Louis and Mid-East Area Agency on Aging to identify older adults at risk for falling that may be interested in testing the adapted program. HARP provides older adults with a home hazard evaluation and home modifications to reduce fall risk in the home by an occupational therapist. Home modifications are provided through grant funding and local organizations that provide adaptive equipment, home repairs and modifications for accessibility.

Engaged Research Student-led Service Curriculum-based Service

Close Get Started Panel

Get Started

We welcome inquiries from prospective students, potential collaborators, community partners, alumni and others who want to connect with us. Please complete the form below to begin the conversation.

Close Schedule a Visit Panel

Schedule an Info Session

We are excited that you are considering applying to the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. Please join us for a Zoom Information Session for either our entry-level MSOT or OTD degrees or our online Post-Professional OTD. Current faculty members will discuss the degree program and answer any question you may have. We are offering these sessions on the following days and times. The content is the same for each one, so you only need to sign up for one.

Upcoming ENTRY-LEVEL Degree ZOOM Info sessions:

Schedule an Entry-Level Info Session

Upcoming PP-OTD Degree ZOOM Info session:

Schedule a PP-OTD Info Session