Community Engagement Laboratory

General Laboratory Description

Dr. Baum directs the Community Engagement Laboratory, and her focus is to understand the factors that to support the daily occupations of adults and older adults as they seek to live as independently as possible with chronic neurological conditions, particularly executive function. The lab is located in the Institute of Public Health, and the space is shared with Dr. Alex Wong and his students.

There are three key areas of study:

  1. Use of person and environmental measurement tools to address functional cognition and activity participation to document the capacities of persons as they engage in their daily lives
  2. Implementation of self-management and action planning strategies to support patients and their families as they face the challenges of community integration after stroke or other neurological conditions
  3. Engagement in multi-site trials to generate knowledge to guide policy that will improve rehabilitation and community care for individuals with cognitive impairment

General Description of Student Activities

Students will become skilled in assessing occupational engagement, functional cognition and participation. They will be actively involved in data collection and will be able to develop strong assessment skills. Students will participate in developing and evaluating interventions that occur in community and home environments and they will be in a lab alongside PhD students from the Baum and Wong Lab.

Examples of Projects

  1. Developing and testing the ENGAGE approach, an occupational therapy intervention uses strategy development and self-management to enhance the lives of individuals with stroke
  2. Determine usability and feasibility of a program Better Living After Stroke through Technology to help stroke survivors and family members return to their productive and meaningful lives
  3. Developing a program to help community-living older adults stay active as they age
  4. Partner with students from other labs to validate a new measure to relate people’s values and their activity patterns

PhD Mentor Information

Dr. Baum’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms that support the recovery or adaptation of people with neurological injury as they seek to engage in family, work and community life. The initial work required the development of measures to determine what people with chronic neurological conditions can do as most assessments were designed to identify limitations. The first measure was designed to document the instrumental and leisure activities and participation in social activities (The Activity Card Sort); the second was to identify performance-based or functional cognition, specifically executive function demonstrated by the performance of tasks (The Kitchen Task Assessment); and the third was to document the person’s behaviors observed by the caregiver (The Functional Behavior Profile). These tools were central to the development of interventions to support the activity engagement of those with Alzheimer’s disease and eventually led to the development of ‘Project Esteem,” a program supported by the Alzheimer’s Association to provide strategies to caregivers to help manage their family members, this program continues today.

In 1996, Dr. Baum became the principal investigator and led the development of the Cognitive Rehabilitation Research Group (CRRG) at Washington University, which received 14 years of funding from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. This work had the objective to link neuroscience to everyday life and involved neuroscientists, psychologists, neurologists and rehabilitation scientists. One of the projects of the CRRG was to develop a registry of stroke patients that could be approached for research studies as well as help researchers understand the changes in stroke over time. This registry now contains information on more than 24,000 patients hospitalized for stroke, and Dr. Baum’s work with interdisciplinary and international colleagues continues today.

In 1999, all three assessments were used with stroke patients as activity participation, performance-based cognition and the observation of caregivers are critical issues in stroke and in community-dwelling older adults. The initial Kitchen Task Assessment laid the foundation for the Executive Function Performance Test, which led to the focus on functional cognition. Dr. Baum’s research now focuses on activity participation and executive dysfunction and developing cognitive strategies, action plans and self-management programs for those who experience occupational disruption as a result of executive dysfunction.

Research Foci

Dr. Baum’s work is organized to develop, validate and disseminate interventions to improve the everyday lives of people.

  • The original work on enhanced medical rehabilitation has led to a new initiative to use client-centered, goal-focused care with older adults to help them recover the capacity to engage in family and community activities and limit their hospital readmissions.
  • Dr. Baum is working with Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM, and Joy Hammel, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, to use social learning theory and guided discovery to foster community participation in individuals with neurological injuries.
  • Dr. Baum is exploring using technology to support the return of stroke survivors, and their family members, to their productive and meaningful lives and address the secondary issues of stroke in a tailored, self-management program.
  • Dr. Baum is building an action plan oriented approach to help older adults help each other stay engaged in important and meaningful activities as they meet the challenges of aging.

Current PhD Students (Co-mentor)

Moon Young Kim, MSOT
Chun Lun (Stephen) Lau, BSOT

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