The REINVENT-PT lab (REhabilitation INnoVations & Emerging Novel Technologies in Physical Therapy, PI: Dr. Sudha Srinivasan) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is interested in understanding developmental trajectories of individuals with neuro-developmental disabilities including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, etc. across the lifespan.
We are interested in studying how infants and children with developmental disabilities explore their physical and social environment compared to typically developing peers and the cascading effects of motor difficulties on a child’s social communication and cognitive development. We are also interested in assessing health-related outcomes in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities, including their physical activity and physical fitness levels. Based on our understanding of the developmental trajectories of individuals with disabilities, our goal is to develop multisystem, engaging, evidence-based, behavioural interventions and assistive technologies to empower the lives of people with disabilities.
At present, the lab has 4 ongoing research projects – (1) exploring the utility and efficacy of using playful joystick-operated ride-on-toys to promote upper extremity function and spontaneous use in children with hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy both in a camp setting and as a home-based program. Specifically, we are also interested in comparing the efficacy of single versus dual joystick ride-on-toy navigation training in improving uni- and bimanual function in children with hemiplegic CP, (2) assessing the ability of healthy neurotypical children to drive joystick-operated ride-on-toys using their non-dominant side, (3) assessing physical activity and physical fitness levels in adolescents and young adults with developmental disabilities compared to age-matched typically developing peers and understanding factors at the personal and environmental levels that influence physical activity engagement in young adults with disabilities, and (4) assessing the effects of a novel, icon-driven Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device on social communication and behavioral skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder using a longitudinal study design.
We specifically need help with projects (1) and (2) listed above in terms of recruitment efforts, data collection, and data analyses.
We are looking for passionate, energetic, and empathetic undergraduate students interested in working on projects involving infants, children, and adults with disabilities. Students can pursue research at the lab for credit, for work study, and with the potential of converting a subset of the research into an honor’s thesis.
Students are required to commit to pursuing research in the lab for at least 2-3 semesters in order for the experience to be meaningful for students. Students are required to complete CITI training given that our research is with human subjects (details will be provided by the study PI). Students from diverse backgrounds including but not limited to psychology, physiology and neurobiology, biology, exercise science, communication sciences, allied health, and education are encouraged to apply.
How to Apply
Interested students should contact Dr. Sudha Srinivasan at firstname.lastname@example.org via email. Please attach your resume/CV and unofficial transcript to the email.
Mentor: Sudha Srinivasan, Assistant Professor
Department: Kinesiology (Physical Therapy)
Timing: Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Summer 2023