PRESS STATEMENT Contact: Peter Thomas
February 10, 2016
(202) 466-6550


Washington, D.C.: The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) applauded the Senate HELP Committee for favorably reporting out of committee yesterday a modified version of legislation entitled, the “Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act,” S. 800, introduced last year by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration and, hopefully, passage.

S. 800 is designed to improve, coordinate, and enhance medical rehabilitation research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) is the lead agency within NIH that funds rehabilitation science. NCMRR’s mission is to conduct and support rehabilitation research, “including orthotic and prosthetic research and development.” O&P research is the only specifically referenced type of rehabilitation research in the 1990 law that created the NCMRR. The 1990 law was the product of compromise legislation spearheaded by NAAOP’s predecessor organization, the American State of the Art Prosthetic Association.

S. 800 is supported by a wide coalition of consumer, clinical and research organizations, including NAAOP, the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (AAOP) and the Amputee Coalition.

NAAOP commended Senators Kirk and Bennet as well as HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) for including in the bill many of the recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Medical Rehabilitation Research established by NIH in December 2012. We are particularly supportive of the provisions in the bill designed to enhance strategic coordination within the Director’s office at NIH and with other agencies to update and streamline medical rehabilitation and O&P research priorities. We also support the provisions in the bill which specify that the Research Plan must be updated every five years following a scientific conference or workshop; provide for progress reports; and include a definition of medical rehabilitation research that reflects the importance of an individual’s ability to improve their functional status after illness or injury.

“We urge the full Senate to pass S. 800 and send the bill to the House of Representatives to enact H.R. 1631 as revised by the Senate bill,” stated David McGill, President of NAAOP. “Enactment of this legislation will send a powerful message that our Nation can and must improve the evidence base of medical rehabilitation, including orthotic and prosthetic care, so that individuals with limb loss and other orthopedic conditions can return to work, live as independently as possible, and have a high quality of life.”

Peter Thomas, NAAOP General Counsel stated, “NIH has devoted the vast majority of its attention and resources to technology-based O&P research and development over the years, primarily through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program. We intend to build on this bill’s passage to prompt NIH to conduct and support O&P research that is more clinically focused and patient centered.”

George Breece, NAAOP’s founding Executive Director, said “Since our inception, NAAOP has been an organization committed to greater funding and support for O&P research. We are pleased to join nearly 40 other national organizations in strongly supporting S. 800 and look forward to seeing the bill enacted this year.”

The DRRC is a coalition of nearly 40 national non-profit organizations committed to improving the science of rehabilitation and disability. The DRRC seeks to maximize the return on the federal investment in rehabilitation and disability research with the goal of optimizing the health and function and quality of life of persons with injuries, illnesses, disabilities, and chronic conditions.

DRRC Member Organizations

National Association for the Advancement Orthotics & Prosthetics
American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists
Amputee Coalition
American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Physical Therapy Association
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Association of Academic Physiatrists
Brain Injury Association of America
American Academy of Neurology
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American Foundation for the Blind
American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association
American Music Therapy Association
American Therapeutic Recreation Association
Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Child Neurology Foundation
Child Neurology Society
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Lakeshore Foundation
March of Dimes
Mental Health America
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Association of Rehabilitation Research Training Centers
National Association of State Head Injury Administrators
National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations
National Council on Independent Living
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Paralyzed Veterans of America
RESNA, Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
The Arc
Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation
United Spinal Association

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