FR Doc E6-15548
[Federal Register: September 19, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 181)]
[Notices]               
[Page 54869-54879]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr19se06-82]                         


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Part II





Department of Education





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Notice of Proposed Priorities for Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Projects and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers; 
Notice


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

 
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research--
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program--
Disability Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRPs) and Rehabilitation 
Engineering Research Centers (RERCs)

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities for DRRPs and RERCs.

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SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and 
Rehabilitative Services proposes certain funding priorities for the 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects and Centers Program 
administered by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research (NIDRR). Specifically, this notice proposes four priorities 
for DRRPs and seven priorities for RERCs. The Assistant Secretary may 
use these priorities for competitions in fiscal year (FY) 2007 and 
later years. We take this action to focus research attention on areas 
of national need. We intend these priorities to improve rehabilitation 
services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before October 19, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about these proposed priorities to 
Donna Nangle, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., 
room 6030, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20204-2700. If you 
prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following 
address: donna.nangle@ed.gov.
    You must include the term ``Proposed Priorities for DRRPs and 
RERCs'' in the subject line of your electronic message.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donna Nangle or Lynn Medley. 
Telephone: (202) 245-7462 (Donna Nangle) or (202) 245-7338 (Lynn 
Medley).
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This notice of proposed priorities is in 
concert with President George W. Bush's New Freedom Initiative (NFI) 
and NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The NFI can 
be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/newfreedom.
 The Plan, which was published in 

the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 8165), can be accessed 
on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/nidrr/policy.html
.

    Through the implementation of the NFI and the Plan, NIDRR seeks to: 
(1) Improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation 
research; (2) foster an exchange of expertise, information, and 
training to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding 
of the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) 
determine best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation 
outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) 
identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) 
disseminate findings.
    One of the specific goals established in the Plan is for NIDRR to 
publish all of its proposed priorities, and following public comment, 
final priorities, annually, on a combined basis. Under this approach, 
NIDRR's constituents can submit comments at one time rather than at 
different times throughout the year, and NIDRR can move toward a fixed 
schedule for competitions and more efficient grant-making operations. 
This notice proposes priorities that NIDRR intends to use for DRRP and 
RERC competitions in FY 2007 and possibly later years. However, nothing 
precludes NIDRR from publishing additional priorities, if needed. 
Furthermore, NIDRR is under no obligation to make an award for each of 
these priorities. The decision to make an award will be based on the 
quality of applications received and available funding.
    For FY 2007 competitions using priorities that already have been 
established and for which publication of a notice of proposed priority 
is unnecessary (e.g., competitions for Field-Initiated Projects, 
Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Projects, Fellowships, and 
Small Business Innovation Research Projects), NIDRR has published or 
will publish notices inviting applications. In addition to this notice, 
on June 7, 2006, NIDRR published a separate notice of proposed 
priorities for a DRRP on Vocational Rehabilitation: Transition Services 
that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age 
Individuals With Blindness or Other Visual Impairment (71 FR 32938). 
More information on these other projects and programs that NIDRR 
intends to fund in FY 2007 can be found on the Internet at the 
following site: http://www.ed.gov/fund/grant/apply/nidrr/priority-matrix.html
.

    Invitation to Comment: We invite you to submit comments regarding 
these proposed priorities. To ensure that your comments have maximum 
effect in developing the notice of final priorities, we urge you to 
identify clearly the specific proposed priority or topic that each 
comment addresses.
    We invite you to assist us in complying with the specific 
requirements of Executive Order 12866 and its overall requirement of 
reducing regulatory burden that might result from these proposed 
priorities. Please let us know of any further opportunities we should 
take to reduce potential costs or increase potential benefits while 
preserving the effective and efficient administration of the program.
    During and after the comment period, you may inspect all public 
comments about these proposed priorities in room 6030, 550 12th Street, 
SW., Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC, between the hours of 8:30 
a.m. and 4 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday of each week 
except Federal holidays.

Assistance to Individuals With Disabilities in Reviewing the Rulemaking 
Record

    On request, we will supply an appropriate aid, such as a reader or 
print magnifier, to an individual with a disability who needs 
assistance to review the comments or other documents in the public 
rulemaking record for these proposed priorities. If you want to 
schedule an appointment for this type of aid, please contact the person 
listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    We will announce the final priorities in one or more notices in the 
Federal Register. We will determine the final priorities after 
considering responses to this notice and other information available to 
the Department. This notice does not preclude us from proposing or 
using additional priorities, subject to meeting applicable rulemaking 
requirements.


    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use these proposed priorities, we invite 
applications through a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting 
applications we designate the priorities as absolute, competitive 
preference, or invitational. The effect of each type of priority 
follows:
    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).

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    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) Awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent 
to which the application meets the competitive preference priority 
(34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets 
the competitive preference priority over an application of 
comparable merit that does not meet the priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over 
other applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).


    Priorities: In this notice, we are proposing 4 priorities for DRRPs 
and 7 priorities for RERCs.
    For DRRPs, the proposed priorities are:
     Priority 1--National Data and Statistical Center for the 
Burn Model Systems.
     Priority 2--Burn Model Systems (BMS) Centers.
     Priority 3--Inclusive Emergency Evacuation of Individuals 
with Disabilities.
     Priority 4--Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) 
Centers.
    For RERCs, the proposed priorities are:
     Priority 5--RERC for Spinal Cord Injury.
     Priority 6--RERC for Recreational Technologies and 
Exercise Physiology Benefiting Individuals with Disabilities.
     Priority 7--RERC for Translating Physiological Data into 
Predictions for Functional Performance.
     Priority 8--RERC for Accessible Medical Instrumentation.
     Priority 9--RERC for Workplace Accommodations.
     Priority 10--RERC for Rehabilitation Robotics and 
Telemanipulation Systems.
     Priority 11--RERC for Emergency Management Technologies.

Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Program

    The purpose of the DRRP program is to plan and conduct research, 
demonstration projects, training, and related activities to develop 
methods, procedures, and rehabilitation technology that maximize the 
full inclusion and integration into society, employment, independent 
living, family support, and economic and social self-sufficiency of 
individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most 
severe disabilities, and to improve the effectiveness of services 
authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. DRRPs 
carry out one or more of the following types of activities, as 
specified and defined in 34 CFR 350.13 through 350.19: research, 
development, demonstration, training, dissemination, utilization, and 
technical assistance.
    An applicant for assistance under this program must demonstrate in 
its application how it will address, in whole or in part, the needs of 
individuals with disabilities from minority backgrounds (34 CFR 
350.40(a)). The approaches an applicant may take to meet this 
requirement are found in 34 CFR 350.40(b). In addition, NIDRR intends 
to require all DRRP applicants to meet the requirements of the General 
Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects (DRRP) Requirements 
priority that it published in a notice of final priorities in the 
Federal Register on April 28, 2006 (71 FR 25472).
    Additional information on the DRRP program can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/res-program.html#DRRP
.


Proposed Priorities

Priority 1--National Data and Statistical Center for the Burn Model 
Systems

Background
    It is estimated that there are more than 1 million burn injuries in 
the United States each year. Approximately 700,000 of these burn 
injuries are treated in emergency departments annually, and 54,000 are 
severe enough to require hospitalization (Esselman et al., 2006; 
American Burn Association, 2002).
    In recent years, burn survivability has increased dramatically. 
This improvement in survival rates has brought rehabilitation issues to 
the forefront of care for burn survivors and led to increased demands 
for research-based knowledge about the post-acute experiences and needs 
of burn survivors (Esselman et al., 2006).
    NIDRR created the Burn Injury Rehabilitation Model Systems of Care 
(BMS) in 1994 to provide leadership in rehabilitation as a key 
component of exemplary burn care and to advance the research base of 
rehabilitation services for burn survivors. The centers funded under 
the BMS program (BMS Centers) establish and carry out projects that 
provide a coordinated system of care including emergency care, acute 
care management, comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation, and long-term 
interdisciplinary follow-up services. In addition, the BMS program 
carries out innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration, and 
evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and other 
rehabilitation services to meet the wide range of needs of individuals 
with burn injury.
    The BMS Centers have developed a longitudinal database that 
contains information on approximately 4,700 people injured since 1994 
(BMS Database). The BMS Database is emerging as an important source of 
information about the characteristics and life course of individuals 
with burn injury. The BMS Database can be used to examine specific 
outcomes of burn injury. NIDRR seeks to continue and build upon this 
data source by funding a National Data and Statistical Center for the 
BMS (National BMS Data Center) that will maintain the BMS Database and 
improve the quality of information that is entered into it.
    The BMS Database is a collaborative project in which all of the BMS 
Centers are required to participate. The data for the BMS Database are 
collected by the BMS Centers. The directors of the BMS Centers, 
including the National BMS Data Center, in consultation with NIDRR, 
determine the parameters of the BMS Database, including the number and 
type of variables to be examined, the criteria for including BMS 
patients in the database, and the frequency and timing of data 
collection.
    The specifications of the BMS Database as it is currently 
implemented can be obtained from the BMS Database Coordination Center. 
The BMS Database Coordination Center may be contacted on the World Wide 
Web at http://bms-dcc.uchsc.edu/.

References
    ABA National Burn Repository Report, 2002. http://www.ameriburn.org/pub/NBR.htm
.

    Esselman, P., Thombs, B., Fauerbach, J., Magyar-Russell, G., & 
Price, M. (2006). Burn State of the Science Review. In Press. American 
Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Proposed Priority
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for the establishment of a National Data 
and Statistical Center for the Burn Model Systems (National BMS Data 
Center). The National BMS Data Center must advance medical 
rehabilitation by increasing the rigor and efficiency of scientific 
efforts to assess the experience of individuals with burn injury. To 
meet this priority, the National BMS Data Center's research and 
technical assistance must be designed to contribute to the following 
outcomes:
    (a) Maintenance of a national longitudinal database (BMS Database)

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for data submitted by each of the Burn Model Systems centers (BMS 
Centers). This database must provide for confidentiality, quality 
control, and data-retrieval capabilities, using cost-effective and 
user-friendly technology.
    (b) High-quality, reliable data in the BMS Database. The National 
BMS Data Center must contribute to this outcome by providing training 
and technical assistance to BMS Centers on subject retention and data 
collection procedures, data entry methods, and appropriate use of study 
instruments, and by monitoring the quality of the data submitted by the 
BMS Centers.
    (c) Rigorous research conducted by BMS Centers. To help in the 
achievement of this outcome, the National BMS Data Center must make 
statistical and other methodological consultation available for 
research projects that use the BMS Database, as well as center-specific 
and collaborative projects of the BMS program.
    (d) Improved efficiency of the BMS Database operations. The 
National BMS Data Center must pursue strategies to achieve this 
outcome, such as collaborating with the National Data and Statistical 
Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, the National Data and 
Statistical Center for Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems, and the Model 
Systems Knowledge Translation Center.

Priority 2--Burn Model System (BMS) Centers

Background
    The American Burn Association (ABA) reported that about 54,000 
Americans, one-third under age 20, are hospitalized for severe burn 
treatment every year. Of this number, 5,500 die (ABA National Burn 
Repository Report, 2002; http://www.ameriburn.org/pub/NBR.htm). Burn 

injury is a catastrophic event that can result in significant 
impairment of an individual's physical function. Relatively little has 
been written about physical rehabilitation of individuals following a 
burn injury (Sliwa et al., 2005).
    NIDRR created the Burn Injury Rehabilitation Model Systems of Care 
(BMS) in 1994 to provide leadership in rehabilitation as a key 
component of exemplary burn care and to advance the research base of 
rehabilitation services for burn survivors. The centers funded under 
the BMS program (BMS Centers) establish and carry out projects that 
provide a coordinated system of care including emergency care, acute 
care management, comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation, and long-term 
interdisciplinary follow-up services. In addition, the BMS program 
carries out innovative projects for the delivery, demonstration, and 
evaluation of comprehensive medical, vocational, and other 
rehabilitation services to meet the wide range of needs of individuals 
with burn injury.
    Currently, four BMS Centers conduct research activities designed to 
improve rehabilitative and pharmacological interventions that can help 
optimize levels of community participation, employment, and overall 
quality of life for individuals with burn injury. Each center provides 
comprehensive rehabilitation services to individuals with burn injury 
and conducts burn research, including clinical research and the 
analysis of standardized data in collaboration with other related 
projects. The BMS Centers have developed a longitudinal database that 
contains information on over 3,046 adults and more than 1,602 children 
(BMS Database). Additional information on the BMS Database funded in 
1998 can be found at http://bms-dcc.uchsc.edu).

    Rehabilitation issues of concern to NIDRR include methods of 
measuring functional outcomes following burn injury. Recently, it is 
reported that the most widely used assessment of function following 
injury, the functional independence measure (FIM), may not be 
sufficient to measure functional outcomes following burn injuries 
(Sliwa et al., 2005). NIDRR is also concerned about such issues as the 
effectiveness of specific rehabilitation interventions; psychosocial 
adjustment following burn injury; cognitive functioning following burn 
injury; and long-term outcomes following burn injury, including 
community integration and return to work.
    In 2005, NIDRR conducted a review of its current BMS program. It is 
NIDRR's intent that, through funding of BMS Centers under the following 
proposed priority, the BMS program will serve as a platform for multi-
site research that contributes to the formulation of practice 
guidelines to improve rehabilitation outcomes for individuals with burn 
injury.
References
    ABA National Burn Repository Report, 2002. http://www.ameriburn.org/pub/NBR.htm
.

    Sliwa, J. A., Heinemann, A., Semik, P. (2005). Inpatient 
Rehabilitation Following Burn Injury: Patient Demographics and 
Functional Outcomes. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 
86: 1920-1923.
    Raymond, I., Ancoli-Israel, S., Choiniere, M. (2004). Sleep 
Disturbances, Pain, and Analgesia in Adults Hospitalization for Burn 
Injuries. Sleep Medicine, 5(6): 551-559.
Proposed Priority
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for the funding of Burn Model Systems 
(BMS) centers (BMS Center) under the Disability and Rehabilitation 
Research Projects (DRRP) Program to conduct research that contributes 
to evidence-based rehabilitation interventions and clinical as well as 
practice guidelines that improve the lives of individuals with burn 
injury. Each BMS Center must--
    (a) Contribute to continued assessment of long-term outcomes of 
burn injury by enrolling at least 30 subjects per year into the 
national longitudinal database for BMS data maintained by the National 
Data and Statistical Center for the BMS, following established 
protocols for the collection of enrollment and follow-up data on 
subjects;
    (b) Contribute to improved outcomes for individuals with burn 
injury by proposing one collaborative research module project and 
participating in at least one collaborative research module project, 
which may range from pilot research to more extensive studies; and
    (c) Contribute to improved long-term outcomes of individuals with 
burn injury by conducting no more than two site-specific research 
projects to test innovative approaches that contribute to 
rehabilitation interventions and evaluating burn injury outcomes in 
accordance with the focus areas identified in NIDRR's Final Long-Range 
Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). Applicants who propose more than two 
site-specific projects will be disqualified.
    In carrying out these activities, each BMS Center may select from 
the following research domains related to specific areas of the Plan: 
Health and function, employment, participation and community living, 
and technology for access and function.
    In addition, each BMS Center must--
    (1) Provide a multidisciplinary system of rehabilitation care 
specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with burn 
injury. The system must encompass a continuum of care, including 
emergency medical services, acute care services, acute medical 
rehabilitation services, and post-acute services; and
    (2) Coordinate with the NIDRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center to provide scientific results and information for

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dissemination to clinical and consumer audiences.

Priority 3--Inclusive Emergency Evacuation of Individuals With 
Disabilities

Background
    Executive Order 13347, Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency 
Preparedness, directs the Federal Government to protect the safety and 
security of individuals with disabilities in disasters. Legal 
requirements related to nondiscrimination, architectural and 
communications access, technology, transportation, and other areas, 
such as those contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 
as amended, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. (ADA) and relevant court decisions, 
apply in emergency situations as well.
    Incorporating disability considerations into emergency evacuation, 
planning, preparation, and other activities is critical. Currently, 
there is insufficient evidence on demonstrating the most effective ways 
to ensure the safety of individuals with disabilities during emergency 
situations. For example, many individuals with disabilities rely on 
elevators, accessible transportation, and accessible communications, 
all of which can be compromised during disasters or other emergency 
situations (Executive Order 13347, Annual Report, 2005). Additional 
research is needed on approaches to evacuation that include the 
evacuation of individuals with disabilities (e.g., physical, sensory, 
mental impairments).
    A study by the National Council on Disability states that, while 
there is a wealth of anecdotal reports by the disability community 
about their experiences in disaster situations, there is scarce 
research related to people with disabilities in disaster planning, 
mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. This study also 
reports that: ``a common theme emerging after 9/11 is there are 
virtually no empirical data on the safe and efficient evacuation of 
persons with disabilities in emergency planning'' (National Council on 
Disability, 2005). Increased knowledge about devices, systems, plans, 
standards, and the incorporation of disability considerations into 
mainstream emergency management initiatives are needed in order to 
build system capacity and improve outcomes for individuals with 
disabilities in emergencies.
References
    Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 
12101 et seq.
    National Council on Disability, Saving Lives: Including People with 
Disabilities in Emergency Planning. April 2005. Available at: http://www.ncd.gov
.

    U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Individuals with Disabilities 
in Emergency Preparedness: Executive Order 13347, Annual Report. July 
2005. Available at: http://www.dhs.gov/disabilitypreparednessicc.

Proposed Priority
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for a Disability Rehabilitation Research 
Project (DRRP) on Inclusive Emergency Evacuation of Individuals with 
Disabilities to conduct research that contributes to the development of 
evidence-based emergency evacuation procedures to improve outcomes for 
individuals with disabilities. Under this priority, the DRRP must be 
designed to contribute to the following outcomes:
    (a) Increased evidence-based knowledge about the inclusive 
evacuation of individuals with disabilities from one or more of the 
following areas: buildings, transportation systems, and geographic 
locations (e.g., cities and States). The DRRP must contribute to this 
outcome by--(1) Synthesizing the current evidence base in one or more 
of the following areas: disability-related evacuation devices, plans, 
exercises, protocols, models, systems, networks, and standards; (2) 
identifying, for the areas identified in (a)(1) of this priority, the 
components and specifications needed for reliable, usable, accessible, 
safe, and effective evacuation of individuals with disabilities; and 
(3) assessing the degree to which the areas selected in (a)(1) of this 
priority contains the components or specifications identified in (a)(2) 
of this priority.
    (b) Increased implementation of disability-related evacuation 
solutions within existing emergency management initiatives. The DRRP 
must contribute to this outcome by--(1) Examining barriers and 
facilitators to effective implementation of disability-related 
evacuation solutions within existing emergency management initiatives 
(including but not limited to communication between key stakeholders 
and attitudinal barriers); and (2) working with the emergency 
management community to propose solutions to the barriers identified in 
accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this priority.
    In addition to the above outcomes, applicants must:
     Define, in their applications, the parameters and units of 
analysis for their proposed activities. Applications must include a 
description of each of the following: (1) Type of evacuation (i.e., 
evacuation from buildings, transportation systems, geographic locations 
such as cities or States); (2) target population (e.g., with physical, 
sensory, mental impairments); and (3) type of response (e.g., devices, 
plans, exercises, protocols, models, systems, networks, or standards).
     Demonstrate in their applications how they plan to 
implement a sustained, meaningful, and integrated collaboration 
throughout the project with key stakeholders, including but not limited 
to the following: (1) Disability and aging advocates, organizations, 
disability subject matter experts, and qualified individuals with 
disabilities; (2) fire engineers, homeland security and preparedness 
personnel, and other mainstream emergency management professionals and 
associations; (3) industry, standard-setting organizations, and other 
relevant stakeholders involved in standards development; (4) 
researchers (including researchers working on projects funded by NIDRR, 
other government agencies, and researchers in the private sector); and 
(5) relevant Federal agencies, including but not limited to those 
participating in the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency 
Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities.

Priority 4--Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) Centers

Background
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that at 
least 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the 
United States each year (Langlois, Rutland-Brown, & Thomas, 2004). Of 
these, approximately 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 
million are treated and released from emergency departments. These 
estimates do not include those individuals who sustained a TBI and did 
not seek medical care or were seen only in private doctors' offices. 
The three leading causes of TBI are motor vehicle/traffic collisions, 
falls and assaults.
    Disabilities resulting from TBI depend on several factors such as 
the severity and location of the injury, length of impaired 
consciousness, age and general health of the patient, and the intensity 
of rehabilitation services (Cifu, Kreutzer,

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Kolakowsky-Hayner, Marwtiz & Englander, 2003; Dikmen, Machamer, Powell 
& Temkin, 2003; Sarajuuri, Kaipio, Koskinen, Niemela, Servo & Vilkki, 
2005). Common disabilities resulting from TBI include problems with 
cognition, sensory processing, communication, and behavioral or mental 
health; and some TBI survivors develop long-term medical complications 
(National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2002). CDC 
reports that each year an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 Americans sustain 
TBI resulting in permanent disability. At least 5.3 million Americans 
have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of 
daily living as a result of TBI (Thurman, Alverson, Dunn, Guerrero, & 
Sniezek, 1999).
    The Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS) program was 
created by NIDRR in 1987 to demonstrate the benefits of a coordinated 
system of neurotrauma and rehabilitation care and to conduct innovative 
research on all aspects of care for those who sustain TBI. NIDRR 
currently funds 16 TBIMS centers throughout the United States. These 
centers provide comprehensive systems of brain injury care to 
individuals who sustain TBI and conduct TBI research, including 
clinical research and the analysis of standardized data in 
collaboration with other related projects. The mission of the TBIMS is 
to improve the lives of persons who experience TBI, and of their 
families and communities by creating and disseminating new knowledge 
about the natural course of TBI and rehabilitation treatment and 
outcomes following TBI.
    For purposes of the TBIMS, TBI is defined as damage to brain tissue 
caused by an external mechanical force as evidenced by loss of 
consciousness or post-traumatic amnesia due to brain trauma or by 
objective neurological findings that can be reasonably attributed to 
TBI on physical examination or mental status examination. Both 
penetrating and non-penetrating wounds that fit this criteria are 
included, but, primary anoxic encephalopathy is not.
    Each TBIMS center funded under this program should be designed to 
offer a multidisciplinary system for providing rehabilitation services 
specifically designed to meet the special needs of individuals with 
TBI. These services span the continuum of treatment from acute care 
through community re-entry. TBIMS centers engage in initiatives and new 
approaches and maintain close working relationships with other 
governmental and non profit institutions and organizations to 
coordinate scientific efforts, encourage joint planning, and promote 
the interchange of data and reports among TBI researchers. As part of 
these cooperative efforts, TBIMS centers participate in collaborative 
research module projects, which range from pilot research to more 
extensive studies.
    A committee consisting of the individual TBIMS project program 
directors has, since its inception, guided the TBIMS program. This 
group meets bi-annually in Washington, DC, and, in consultation with 
NIDRR, develops and oversees the policies of the TBIMS. NIDRR intends 
for the work of this group to continue.
    Since 1989, the TBIMS centers have collected and contributed 
information on common data elements for a centralized TBIMS database, 
which is maintained through a NIDRR-funded grant for a National Data 
and Statistical Center for the TBIMS. (Additional information on the 
TBIMS database can be found at http://tbindc.org). The TBI National 

Data and Statistical Center for the TBIMS coordinates data collection, 
manages the TBIMS database, and provides statistical support to the 
model systems projects. To date, TBIMS centers have contributed 5,756 
cases to the TBIMS database, with follow up data extending to 15 years 
post injury.
References
    Cifu, D.X., Kreutzer, J.S., Kolakowsky-Hayner, S.A., Marwitz, J.H., 
& Englander, J. (2003). The Relationship Between Therapy Intensity and 
Rehabilitative Outcomes after Traumatic Brain Injury: A Multicenter 
Analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 84(10): 
1441-8.
    Dikmen, S.S., Machamer, J.E., Powell, J.M., & Temkin, N.R. (2003). 
Outcome 3 to 5 Years After Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. 
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 84(10): 1449-57.
    Langlois, J.A., Rutland-Brown, W., & Thomas, K.E. (2004). Traumatic 
Brain Injury in the United States: Emergency Department Visits, 
Hospitalizations, and Deaths. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control 
and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 
(2002, February). Traumatic Brain Injury: Hope Through Research. 
Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Health. NIH Publication No. 02-
2478. Retrieved February 2, 2006, from the NINDS Web site: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/detail_tbi.htm
.

    Sarajuuri, J.M., Kaipio, M.L., Koskinen, S.K., Niemela, M.R., 
Servo, A.R., & Vilkki, J.S. (2005). Outcome of a Comprehensive 
Neurorehabilitation Program for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury. 
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 86(12): 2296-302.
    Thurman, D.J., Alverson, C.A., Dunn, K.A., Guerrero, J., & Sniezek, 
J.E. (1999). Traumatic Brain Injury in the United States: A Public 
Health Perspective. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14(6): 602-
615.
Proposed Priority
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes a priority for Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems 
(TBIMS) centers under the Disability and Rehabilitation Research 
Projects (DRRP) program to conduct research that contributes to 
evidence-based rehabilitation interventions which improve the lives of 
individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Each TBIMS center must 
contribute to the following outcomes:
    (a) Continued assessment of long-term outcomes of TBI by enrolling 
at least 35 subjects per year into the longitudinal portion of the 
TBIMS database maintained by the National Data and Statistical Center 
for the TBIMS, following established protocols for the collection of 
enrollment and follow-up data on subjects.
    (b) Improved outcomes for individuals with TBI by proposing one 
collaborative research module project and participating in at least one 
collaborative research module project, which may range from pilot 
research to more extensive studies (At the beginning of the funding 
cycle, the TBIMS directors, in conjunction with NIDRR, will select 
specific modules for implementation from the approved applications).
    (c) Improved long-term outcomes of individuals with TBI by 
conducting no more than two site-specific research projects to test 
innovative approaches that contribute to rehabilitation interventions 
and evaluating TBI outcomes in accordance with the focus areas 
identified in NIDRR's Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009. Applicants who 
propose more than two site-specific projects will be disqualified.
    In carrying out each of these research activities, each TBIMS 
Center may select from the following research domains related to 
specific areas of the Plan: Health and Function, Employment, 
Participation and Community Living, and Technology for Access and 
Function.
    In addition, each TBIMS Center must--

[[Page 54875]]

    (1) Provide a multidisciplinary system of rehabilitation care 
specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with TBI. The 
system must encompass a continuum of care, including emergency medical 
services, acute care services, acute medical rehabilitation services, 
and post-acute services; and
    (2) Coordinate with the NIDRR-funded Model Systems Knowledge 
Translation Center to provide scientific results and information for 
dissemination to clinical and consumer audiences.
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers Program General 
Requirements of Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers (RERCs)
    RERCs carry out research or demonstration activities in support of 
the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, by--
     Developing and disseminating innovative methods of 
applying advanced technology, scientific achievement, and psychological 
and social knowledge to: (a) Solve rehabilitation problems and remove 
environmental barriers; and (b) study and evaluate new or emerging 
technologies, products, or environments and their effectiveness and 
benefits; or
     Demonstrating and disseminating: (a) Innovative models for 
the delivery of cost-effective rehabilitation technology services to 
rural and urban areas; and (b) other scientific research to assist in 
meeting the employment and independent living needs of individuals with 
severe disabilities; and
     Facilitating service delivery systems change through: (a) 
The development, evaluation, and dissemination of consumer-responsive 
and individual and family-centered innovative models for the delivery 
to both rural and urban areas of innovative cost-effective 
rehabilitation technology services; and (b) other scientific research 
to assist in meeting the employment and independence needs of 
individuals with severe disabilities.
    Each RERC must be operated by or in collaboration with one or more 
institutions of higher education or one or more nonprofit 
organizations.
    Each RERC must provide training opportunities, in conjunction with 
institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations, to assist 
individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to become 
rehabilitation technology researchers and practitioners.
    Additional information on the RERC program can be found at: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/index.html
.


Priorities 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11--Rehabilitation Engineering 
Research Centers (RERCs) for Spinal Cord Injury (Priority 5), 
Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting 
Individuals With Disabilities (Priority 6), Translating Physiological 
Data Into Predictions for Functional Performance (Priority 7), 
Accessible Medical Instrumentation (Priority 8), Workplace 
Accommodations (Priority 9), Rehabilitation Robotics and 
Telemanipulation Systems (Priority 10), and Emergency Management 
Technologies (Priority 11)

Background
    Individuals with disabilities regularly use products developed 
through rehabilitation and biomedical research to achieve and maintain 
maximum physical function, live independently, study and learn, and 
attain gainful employment. The range of engineering research 
encompasses not only assistive technology but also technology at the 
systems level (e.g., the built environment, information and 
communication technologies, and transportation) and technology that 
interfaces between individuals and systems and is basic to community 
integration.
    The NIDRR RERC program has been a major force in the development of 
technology to enhance independent function for individuals with 
disabilities. The RERCs are recognized as national centers of 
excellence in their respective areas and collectively represent the 
largest federally supported program responsible for advancing 
rehabilitation engineering research. For example, the RERC program was 
an early pioneer in the development of augmentative communication and 
has been at the forefront of prosthetics and orthotics research for 
both children and adults. RERCs have played a major role in the 
development of voluntary standards that the medical equipment and 
technology industries use when developing wheelchairs, wheelchair 
restraint systems, information technologies, and the World Wide Web. 
RERCs also have been a driving force in the development of universal 
design principles that can be applied to the built environment, 
information technology, and consumer products.
    Advancements in basic biomedical science and technology have 
resulted in new opportunities to further enhance the lives of 
individuals with disabilities. Specifically, recent advances in 
biomaterials research, composite technologies, information and 
telecommunication technologies, nanotechnologies, micro electro 
mechanical systems (MEMS), sensor technologies, and the neurosciences 
provide a wealth of opportunities for individuals with disabilities and 
could be incorporated into research focused on disability and 
rehabilitation.
    Through the following proposed priorities, NIDRR intends to fund 
RERCs that advance rehabilitation engineering in the following research 
areas: Spinal Cord Injury, Recreational Technologies and Exercise 
Physiology Benefiting People with Disabilities, Translating 
Physiological Data into Predictions for Functional Performance, 
Accessible Medical Instrumentation, Workplace Accommodations, 
Rehabilitation Robotics and Telemanipulation Systems, and Emergency 
Management Technologies.

Priority 5--RERC for Spinal Cord Injury

    It is estimated that the number of Americans living with traumatic 
spinal cord injury (SCI) ranges from 222,000 to 285,000, with an 
incidence of approximately 11,000 new cases each year (Spinal Cord 
Injury: Facts and Figures at a Glance, 2004).
    Technology plays a pivotal role in the lives of individuals with 
SCI, starting with the onset of injury and continuing into the 
individual's reintegration into community life (Cooper, 2004). The 
development of cutting-edge devices and the application of existing 
technologies such as integrated control systems, robotics, and 
neuroprosthetics can help individuals with SCI perform activities of 
daily living and work, and participate in their communities. These 
devices can enhance the mobility and function of users with SCI, which 
in turn, aids in the preservation of their overall health. Enhanced 
mobility, function and overall health are vital to the independence and 
quality of life of individuals with SCI. Accordingly, NIDRR seeks to 
fund an RERC that focuses on improving the quality of life of 
individuals with SCI and promotes health, rehabilitation, independence, 
and community participation.
References
    Spinal Cord Injury: Facts and Figures at a Glance. (2004). 
Retrieved February 13, 2006 from the National Data and Statistical 
Center for Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Web site: http://www.spinalcord.uab.edu
.

    Cooper, R.A. (2004). Bioengineering and Spinal Cord Injury: A 
Perspective on the State of the Science. The Journal of Spinal Cord 
Medicine; 27: 351-364.

[[Page 54876]]

Priority 6--RERC for Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology 
Benefiting Individuals With Disabilities

    Individuals with disabilities are generally less likely to be 
physically active than their non-disabled peers. However, regular 
physical activity, sports participation, and active recreation are 
important contributors to the prevention of disease, promotion of 
health, and maintenance of functional independence for all individuals, 
including individuals with disabilities. Several studies have 
demonstrated that many persons with a variety of disabilities benefit 
from increased levels of physical activity, as evidenced by alterations 
in various components of their physical fitness (Ada, Dean, Hall, 
Bampton, Crompton, 2003; Hicks, Martin, Ditor, Latimer, Craven, 
Bugaresti, McCartney, 2003; Husted, Pham, Hekking, Niederman, 1999; 
Romberg, Virtanen, Ruutiainen, Aunola, Karppi, Vaara, Surakka, 
Pohjolainen, Seppanen, 2004).
    Accessible recreation requires more than ramps or automatic door 
openers at buildings containing recreational space. In a recreational 
facility, equipment and programs themselves contribute to an 
environment that promotes equal access or creates a barrier to pursuing 
recreational goals. Recreational equipment needs obvious and easy 
adjustability, variable range of motion, adequate surrounding space, 
and transferability (North Carolina Office on Disability and Health 
(2001)). Furthermore, recreational spaces are in need of accessible 
points of entry and accessible surfacing (North Carolina Office on 
Disability and Health (2001)).
    Although modifications to recreational equipment have been made, 
such as swing away seats to allow use from a wheelchair or the addition 
of Braille instructions, these modifications are not universal and 
recreational equipment remains a primary barrier to physical activity 
participation (Rimmer, J.H., Riley, B., Wang, E., Rauworth, A. (2005)). 
Existing recreational technologies are in need of new features to 
increase access to and participation in recreational environments by 
individuals with disabilities. In addition, newly improved and novel 
recreational technologies need to be researched and tested to 
demonstrate the degree to which they can increase access to and 
participation in recreational environments by individuals with 
disabilities.
    Accordingly, NIDRR seeks to fund an RERC that facilitates equitable 
access to, and safe use of, recreational equipment, facilities, and 
programs, and will reduce debilitating secondary conditions associated 
with disability and sedentary lifestyle.
References
    Ada, L., Dean, C.M., Hall, J.M., Bampton, J., Crompton, S. (2003). 
A Treadmill and Overground Walking Program Improves Walking in Persons 
Residing in the Community After Stroke: A Placebo-Controlled, 
Randomized Trial. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 
Oct.; 84(10): 1486-91.
    Hicks, A.L., Martin, K.A., Ditor, D.S., Latimer, A.E., Craven, C., 
Bugaresti, J., McCartney, N. (2003). Long-term Exercise Training in 
Persons with Spinal Cord Injury: Effects on Strength, Arm Ergometry 
Performance and Psychological Well-Being. Spinal Cord, Jan.; 41(1): 34-
43.
    Husted, C., Pham, L., Hekking, A., Niederman, R. (1999). Improving 
Quality of Life for People with Chronic Conditions: The Example of T'ai 
Chi and Multiple Sclerosis. Alternative Therapies in Health Medicine, 
Sep.; 5(5): 70-4.
    Romberg, A., Virtanen, A., Ruutiainen, J., Aunola, S., Karppi, 
S.L., Vaara, M., Surakka, J., Pohjolainen, T., Seppanen, A. (2004). 
Effects of a 6-Month Exercise Program on Patients with Multiple 
Sclerosis: A Randomized Study. Neurology, Dec. 14; 63(11): 2034-8.
    North Carolina Office on Disability and Health (2001). Removing 
Barriers to Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities. Chapel Hill, NC: Frank 
Porter Graham Child Development Center.
    Rimmer, J.H., Riley, B., Wang, E., Rauworth, A. (2005). 
Accessibility of Health Clubs for People with Mobility Disabilities and 
Visual Impairments. American Journal of Public Health, Nov.; 95(11): 
2022-8.

Priority 7--RERC for Translating Physiological Data Into Predictions 
for Functional Performance

    The fields of biomedical and rehabilitation engineering have 
produced and applied a wide variety of instruments and devices to 
measure the physiological capacity of the human body. Many of these 
measurement tools, which examine parameters such as range of motion, 
force, gait, and electrophysiological features, have been applied by 
physiatrists and other allied professionals in research or practice in 
physical medicine and rehabilitation (Hesse, et al., 2002; Koontz, et 
al., 2005; Wimalartna, et al., 2002).
    To realize the potential for these physiological measures to shape 
clinical practices and services, biomedical engineers and 
rehabilitation clinicians must develop methods for translating 
physiological measures into predictions for functional performance. One 
example would be translating the results of a strength measure into a 
prognosis for the capacity to carry out a particular activity of daily 
living (ADL). NIDRR, therefore, seeks to fund an RERC that develops and 
evaluates models and methods to determine the relationship between 
physiological measures and the capacity to perform basic tasks among 
individuals with disabilities.
References
    Hesse, S., Schmidt, H., Werner, C., Bardeleben, A. (2002). Upper 
and Lower Extremity Robotic Devices for Rehabilitation and for Studying 
Motor Control. Current Opinion in Neurology, Dec.; 16(6): 705-10.
    Koontz, A.M., Cooper, R.A., Boninger, M.L., Yang, Y., Impink, B.G., 
van der Woude, L.H. (2005). A Kinetic Analysis of Manual Wheelchair 
Propulsion During Start-Up on Select Indoor and Outdoor Surfaces. 
Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Jul.-Aug.; 42(4): 
447-58.
    Wimalaratna, H.S., Tooley, M.A., Churchill, E., Preece, A.W., 
Morgan, H.M. (2002). Quantitative Surface EMG in the Diagnosis of 
Neuromuscular Disorders. Electromyography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 
2002 Apr.-May.; 42(3): 167-74.

Priority 8--RERC for Accessible Medical Instrumentation

    The aim of ``The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Improve the 
Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities'' is for people with 
disabilities to achieve full access to disease prevention and health 
promotion services (The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Improve the 
Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities, 2005). Building upon 
the American with Disability Act of 1990, as amended, mandate of equal 
access to public accommodations and services, the second of four major 
goals within the Surgeon General's call-to-action is to: ``Increase 
knowledge among health care professionals and provide them with tools 
to screen, diagnose, and treat the whole person with a disability with 
dignity.''
    Many medical devices in use today are not readily accessible to 
individuals with disabilities. For example, research examining the 
accessibility of mammography equipment found that inaccessible health 
care facilities and medical equipment make it less likely that women 
with disabilities will receive breast cancer screening (Nosek,

[[Page 54877]]

2000). In addition, accessibility issues are apparent with many other 
medical devices such as exam tables, x-ray equipment, rehabilitation 
equipment, and weight scales (Winters, et al., 2005). Accordingly, 
NIDRR seeks to fund an RERC that facilitates equitable access to, and 
use of, healthcare facilities and equipment by people with 
disabilities.
References
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General's 
Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with 
Disabilities. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of 
the Surgeon General, 2005.
    Nosek, M.A. (2000). The John Stanley Coulter lecture. Overcoming 
the Odds: The Health of Women with Physical Disabilities in the United 
States. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 81(2): 135-8.
    Winters, J.M., Story, M.F., Barnekow, K., Isaacson Kailes, J., 
Premo, B., Schwier, E., Winters, J.M. (2005) Accessibility of Medical 
Instrumentation: A National Healthcare Consumer Survey, Proc. RESNA 
2005 Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, June, 2005.

Priority 9--RERC for Workplace Accommodations

    Individuals with disabilities experience low rates of employment 
and are less likely to be highly educated than are individuals without 
disabilities. Despite several national programs and policies that 
address this disparity, employment rates for people with disabilities 
have remained stable or declined in the past decade (2003 CPS 
Employment Rates). The lack of an accessible work environment may 
partially explain the decline in employment rates among individuals 
with disabilities.
    Functional limitations in areas such as motor functioning, 
communication, sensation and perception, and cognitive functioning all 
present barriers to employment and maintenance of employment by people 
with disabilities (Williams, M., Sabata, D., Zolna, J. (2006)). 
Modifications in the work environment often remove or reduce these 
barriers. Examples of modifications include ramps, automatic door 
openers, alternate computer systems, voice output devices for persons 
with visual impairments, and customized desks and worktables. 
Evaluating the effectiveness of existing individualized accommodations 
and new technologies that can potentially be integrated into the design 
of work environments also may help to reduce employment barriers. 
Moreover, the need persists for more comprehensive empirical evidence 
about the human factors of the workplace environment and workplace 
technology used by people with disabilities. For example, workplace and 
task assessment using ergonomic, anthropometric, and kinematic analysis 
is needed for individuals with disabilities. In addition, new tools for 
assessing changes in function, skills, and abilities should be 
developed for individuals with disabilities (Dowler, D. L., Hirsch, A. 
E., Kittle, R. D., and Hendricks, D. J. (1996)) and technology 
resources should be systematically considered at all stages of an 
individual's employment and overall rehabilitation process (Langton, 
A.J., and Ramseur, H. (2001)). Accordingly, NIDRR seeks to fund an RERC 
that facilitates equitable access to, and use of, workplace equipment 
and facilities and otherwise promotes safety, independence, and active 
engagement in the workplace by individuals with disabilities.
References
    Vocational Economics, Inc. (2003). 2003 CPS Employment Rates. 
http://www.vocecon.com/technical/DATA/newcps.htm.

    Williams, M., Sabata, D., Zolna, J. (2006). A Survey of Workplace 
Accommodation Needs of Older Workers and Persons with Disabilities 
Proc. RESNA 2006 Annual Conference, Atlanta, GA, June, 2006.
    Dowler, D. L., Hirsch, A. E., Kittle, R. D., and Hendricks, D. J. 
(1996). Outcomes of Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace. 
Technology and Disability, 5 (1996) 345-354.
    Langton, A.J., and Ramseur, H. (2001). Enhancing Employment 
Outcomes Through Job Accommodation and Assistive Technology Resources 
and Services. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 16 (2001) 27-37.

Priority 10--RERC for Rehabilitation Robotics and Telemanipulation 
Systems

    Rehabilitation of physical impairment is labor intensive, often 
relying on one-on-one interactions and hands-on manipulations by 
physicians and therapists. Technologies are now available to help 
replicate these therapeutic manipulations so that individuals can 
practice therapy on their own in a clinic or possibly at home. Several 
studies suggest that appropriately designed robotic rehabilitation 
therapy may be used for the assessment and treatment of motor 
impairments (Lum, Burgar, Shor, Majmundar, & Van der Loos, 2002; 
Reinkensmeyer, Hogan, Krebs, Lehman, & Lum, 2000; Riener, Lunenburger, 
Jezernik, Anderschitz, Colombo, & Dietz, 2005).
    By replicating therapy techniques that normally require one-on-one 
contact with clinicians, robotic manipulators could increase access to 
therapy, increase time spent in therapy, potentially reduce the cost of 
therapy, and possibly achieve better outcomes than traditional 
rehabilitation therapies. Accordingly, NIDRR seeks to fund an RERC that 
evaluates the efficacy of rehabilitation robotic therapies and 
researches and develops innovative technologies and techniques to 
improve the current state of the science and usability of 
rehabilitation robotic therapies for individuals with disabilities.
References
    Lum, P.S., Burgar, C.G., Shor, P.C., Majmundar, M., and Van der 
Loos, H.F.M. (2002). Robot-Assisted Movement Training Compared with 
Conventional Therapy Techniques for the Rehabilitation of Upper Limb 
Motor Function Following Stroke. Archives of Physical Medicine and 
Rehabilitation, Jul.; 83(7): 952-9.
    Reinkensmeyer, D., Hogan, N., Krebs, H., Lehman, S., and Lum, P. 
(2000). Rehabilitators, Robots, and Guides: New Tools for Neurological 
Rehabilitation: In Biomechanics and Neural Control of Posture and 
Movement, J. Winters and P. Crago, Eds., 2 ed: Springer-Verlag, 2000, 
516-533.
    Riener, R., Lunenburger, L., Jezernik, S., Anderschitz, M., 
Colombo, G., Dietz, V. (2005). Patient-Cooperative Strategies for 
Robot-Aided Treadmill Training: First Experimental Results. IEEE 
Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, Sep.; 
13(3): 380-94.

Priority 11--RERC for Emergency Management Technologies

    Although disasters and emergencies may have a greater impact on 
individuals with disabilities, their needs and concerns in the areas of 
emergency preparedness, response, and recovery are often overlooked 
(National Council on Disability, 2005). Many individuals with 
disabilities rely on elevators, accessible transportation, and 
accessible communications, all of which can be compromised during 
disasters or emergency situations (Executive Order 13347, Annual 
Report, 2005). The aim of Executive Order 13347 is to ensure that the 
Federal Government appropriately supports safety and security for 
individuals with disabilities. Accordingly, NIDRR seeks

[[Page 54878]]

to fund an RERC that researches, develops, and evaluates emergency 
management technologies and implementation plans to support the full 
inclusion of people with disabilities.
References
    National Council on Disability, Saving Lives: Including People with 
Disabilities in Emergency Planning. April 2005. Available at: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/
[fxsp0]publications/2005/saving--

lives.htm#purpose.
    U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Individuals with Disabilities 
in Emergency Preparedness: Executive Order 13347, Annual Report, July 
2005.
Proposed Priorities
    The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative 
Services proposes seven priorities for the establishment of (a) An RERC 
for Spinal Cord Injury (Priority 5), (b) an RERC for Recreational 
Technologies and Exercise Physiology Benefiting Individuals with 
Disabilities (Priority 6), (c) an RERC for Translating Physiological 
Data into Predictions for Functional Performance (Priority 7), (d) an 
RERC for Accessible Medical Instrumentation (Priority 8), (e) an RERC 
for Workplace Accommodations (Priority 9), (f) an RERC for 
Rehabilitation Robotics and Telemanipulation Systems (Priority 10), and 
(g) an RERC for Emergency Management Technologies (Priority 11). Within 
its designated priority research area, each RERC will focus on 
innovative technological solutions, new knowledge, and concepts that 
will improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
    (a) RERC for Spinal Cord Injury (Priority 5). Under this priority, 
the RERC must research, develop and evaluate innovative technologies 
and approaches that will improve the treatment, rehabilitation, 
employment, and reintegration into society of persons with spinal cord 
injury. This RERC must work collaboratively with the NIDRR-funded 
Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Centers program;
    (b) RERC for Recreational Technologies and Exercise Physiology 
Benefiting Individuals With Disabilities (Priority 6). Under this 
priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate innovative 
technologies and strategies that will enhance recreational 
opportunities for individuals with disabilities and develop methods to 
enhance the physical performance of individuals with disabilities;
    (c) RERC for Translating Physiological Data into Predictions for 
Functional Performance (Priority 7). Under this priority, the RERC must 
determine the physiological measurement tools that are available in a 
specific sub-specialty of rehabilitation. A sub-specialty may be based 
on underlying disabling condition (e.g., spinal cord injury, and 
Parkinson's disease), or on specific sequelae that may be common to a 
wide variety of disabling conditions (e.g., pain, spasticity). The RERC 
must then develop and evaluate models and methods for determining the 
relationships between basic physiological measurements and functional 
performance. These models and methods must take the characteristics of 
individuals and their environments into consideration when attempting 
to delineate these relationships, so that the results of this research 
are relevant to clinical practice and the real-world experiences of 
individuals with disabilities.
    (d) RERC for Accessible Medical Instrumentation (Priority 8). Under 
this priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate innovative 
methods and technologies to increase the usability and accessibility of 
diagnostic, therapeutic, and procedural healthcare equipment (e.g., 
equipment used during medical examinations, and treatment) for 
individuals with disabilities. This includes developing methods and 
technologies that are useable and accessible for patients and health 
care providers with disabilities.
    (e) RERC for Workplace Accommodations (Priority 9). Under this 
priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate innovative 
technologies and implementation plans, devices, and systems to enhance 
the productivity of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. 
This RERC must emphasize the application of universal design concepts 
to improve the accessibility of the workplace and workplace tools for 
all workers.
    (f) RERC for Rehabilitation Robotics and Telemanipulation Systems 
(Priority 10). Under this priority, the RERC must research, develop, 
and evaluate human-scale robots and telemanipulation systems that will 
provide or perform rehabilitation therapies and address the unique 
needs of individuals with disabilities.
    (g) RERC for Emergency Management Technologies (Priority 11). Under 
this priority, the RERC must research, develop, and evaluate existing 
and innovative emergency management technologies to enhance emergency 
outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Areas of focus within this 
priority research area may include but are not limited to 
communications, transportation, evacuation, and other areas related to 
emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. In addition, this RERC 
must provide input and expertise into the development of standards to 
improve emergency management for individuals with disabilities. This 
RERC must work collaboratively with the NIDRR-funded Disability and 
Rehabilitation Research Project: Inclusive Emergency Evacuation of 
People with Disabilities.
    Under each priority, the RERC must be designed to contribute to the 
following programmatic outcomes:
    (1) Increased technical and scientific knowledge-base relevant to 
its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this 
outcome by conducting high-quality, rigorous research and development 
projects.
    (2) Innovative technologies, products, environments, performance 
guidelines, and monitoring and assessment tools as applicable to its 
designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute to this 
outcome by developing and testing these innovations.
    (3) Improved research capacity in its designated priority research 
area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by collaborating with 
the relevant industry, professional associations, and institutions of 
higher education.
    (4) Improved focus on cutting edge developments in technologies 
within its designated priority research area. The RERC must contribute 
to this outcome by identifying and communicating with NIDRR and the 
field regarding trends and evolving product concepts related to its 
designated priority research area.
    (5) Increased impact of research in the designated priority 
research area. The RERC must contribute to this outcome by providing 
technical assistance to public and private organizations, individuals 
with disabilities, and employers on policies, guidelines, and standards 
related to its designated priority research area.
    In addition, under each priority, the RERC must--
     Have the capability to design, build, and test prototype 
devices and assist in the transfer of successful solutions to relevant 
production and service delivery settings;
     Evaluate the efficacy and safety of its new products, 
instrumentation, or assistive devices;
     Provide as part of its proposal and then implement a plan 
that describes how it will include, as appropriate, individuals with 
disabilities or their representatives in all phases of its activities, 
including research, development, training, dissemination, and 
evaluation;

[[Page 54879]]

     Provide as part of its proposal and then implement, in 
consultation with the NIDRR-funded National Center for the 
Dissemination of Disability Research (NCDDR), a plan to disseminate its 
research results to individuals with disabilities, their 
representatives, disability organizations, service providers, 
professional journals, manufacturers, and other interested parties;
     Develop and implement in the first year of the project 
period, in consultation with the NIDRR-funded RERC on Technology 
Transfer, a plan for ensuring that all new and improved technologies 
developed by the RERC are successfully transferred to the marketplace;
     Conduct a state-of-the-science conference on its 
designated priority research area in the fourth year of the project 
period and publish a comprehensive report on the final outcomes of the 
conference in the fifth year of the project period; and
     Coordinate research projects of mutual interest with 
relevant NIDRR-funded projects, as identified through consultation with 
the NIDRR project officer.

Executive Order 12866

    This notice of proposed priorities has been reviewed in accordance 
with Executive Order 12866. Under the terms of the order, we have 
assessed the potential costs and benefits of this regulatory action.
    The potential costs associated with this notice of proposed 
priorities are those resulting from statutory requirements and those we 
have determined as necessary for administering this program effectively 
and efficiently.
    In assessing the potential costs and benefits--both quantitative 
and qualitative--of this notice of proposed priorities, we have 
determined that the benefits of the proposed priorities justify the 
costs.

Summary of Potential Costs and Benefits

    The benefits of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Projects 
and Centers Programs have been well established over the years in that 
similar projects have been completed successfully. These proposed 
priorities will generate new knowledge and technologies through 
research, development, dissemination, utilization, and technical 
assistance projects.
    Another benefit of these proposed priorities is that the 
establishment of new DRRPs and new RERCs will support the President's 
NFI and will improve the lives of persons with disabilities. The new 
DRRPs and RERCs will generate, disseminate, and promote the use of new 
information that will improve the options for individuals with 
disabilities to perform regular activities in the community.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 part 79.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR part 350.

Electronic Access to This Document

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Regulations is available on GPO Access at: 
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(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers 84.133A Disability 
Rehabilitation Research Projects and 84.133E Rehabilitation 
Engineering Research Centers Program)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(g), 764(a), 764(b)(2), and 
764(b)(3).

    Dated: September 13, 2006.
John H. Hager,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
 [FR Doc. E6-15548 Filed 9-18-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4000-01-P