Researchers Working Together


Federal Research Designations


The Searle Rehabilitation Research Center seeks to set the highest standards in scholarly and applied research in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Our objectives are to discover practical solutions for today, and to provide the promise of hope tomorrow for people with physical disabilities. In a culture of value and respect, we will advance the state of the science, promote its application to patient care and unselfishly share our knowledge and expertise, so that people with disabilities from around the world may achieve the best life possible.

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) research discoveries set new standards and protocols in rehabilitation hospitals around the world. We regularly publish research in the world's foremost medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association and the European medical journal, The Lancet.

Our Designations


NIDILRR Rehabilitation Research & Training Center: Developing Optimal Strategies in Exercise and Survival Skills to Increase Health and Function, DOSESS
Empowering people with disabilities to achieve and maintain their well-being, independent physical functioning, and community participation, requires an in-depth understanding of the multi-dimensional nature of health and function. This Rehabilitation and Training Center, funded by NIDILRR, was created to develop, evaluate, and implement methods to promote optimal health and function of people with physical disabilities.

Through a variety of research, training and dissemination activities, we expect to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the efficacy and value of various interventions for achieving and maintaining health and function for people with a disability. The Center’s projects will explore the role of motor priming and intensity of training to improve walking ability, determine the optimal dosing of intensive aphasia treatments, and develop a peer health navigator program that will improve the ability of people with disabilities to access community resources and the social environment. We will measure the economic and social value of each project.  

NIDILRR: Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System as designated by NIDILRR. One of only 14 SCI Model Systems nationwide, we advance spinal cord care through clinical research that identifies new standards of care for the industry. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab leads multiple independent and collaborative research projects exploring walking therapy technologies that deliver the most effective treatment to Advance Ability™.

NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Machines Assisting Recovery from Stroke
Machines assist therapists in providing longer, more consistent and intensive therapies, that track progress and improve functional performance. The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is one of 20 NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Centers dedicated to stroke research and the only focused on robotics.

NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Manipulation and Mobility Technologies
A NIDILRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center award to fund six new projects researching innovations that are directly useful for patients, especially those who have experienced limb-loss or stroke. Projects include body-powered hand prostheses, use of powered exoskeleton for after-stroke patients, and a new wheelchair to allow both sitting and standing. Research will include both technology development and clinical testing.

NIDILRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center: Time and Place for Computers and Robots in Therapy
An internationally acclaimed NIDILRR-funded center especially for patients with hemispheric stroke – the most debilitating kind. Seven studies address two elemental questions: When is the optimal time to use robotic and computer-based systems during therapy, and how do therapists best interact with robotic devices during therapy, often with minimal hands-on treatment coming from the clinician? Training of undergraduate rehabilitation engineers is included.

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