Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)

Coordinated studies in successful employment and quality work life after disability are being conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina, within the College of Health Professions. The team of researchers, including Drs. James Krause, Lee Saunders, and Yue Cao, are conducting the program of outcomes research with cohorts of people with spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple sclerosis (MS), and other disabilities. The program of research looks beyond return to work and the current vocational rehabilitation model to investigate a wide array of quantitative and quality factors related to employment throughout the lifecycle.

Employment is quantified by characteristics such as the interval of time between disability onset and employment, hours spent per week employ, years employed, the portion of the maximum time possible spent working, job lapses, and work life expectancy. Quality indicators include the classification of the occupation, job satisfaction, promotions, and earnings. Three studies are currently being conducted including: (1) study that differentiates return to the preinjury employer versus finding new employment after SCI, funded through the model SCI systems (Shepherd Center, Atlanta, GA; (2) prediction of a successful employment after SCI, funded through a disability rehabilitation research project; and (3) prediction of successful employment after MS, funded through the Rehabilitation Research And Training Center On Employment of People with Physical Disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University. These studies are designed to allow for evaluation of policy factors in relation to diverse employment outcomes and to guide counseling strategies, practice, and policy decisions to maximize employment outcomes among those with disabling conditions.

The study funded by NIDILRR's RRTC on Employment of People with Physical Disabilities will be led by our partners Dr. Krause and Dr. Saunders. More information on Study Two can be found at: Successful Employment and Quality Work Life after Severe Disability: Comparison of Predictive Models with Multiple Sclerosis and Spinal Cord Injury

Study Team Leaders

James KrauseJames S. Krause, PhD
Director, Center for Rehabilitation Research in Neurological Conditions

Curriculum Vitae

James Krause, PhD is a Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health Professions (CHP) at MUSC. He is Director of three NIDILRR funded center grants, including the Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI, an RRTC on Secondary Conditions in Individuals with SCI, and Successful Employment and Quality Work Life after Severe Disability due to SCI. Dr. Krause has authored 157 articles in peer-reviewed journals (104 as first author). Nearly a quarter of his publications have focused on employment, vocational interests, and socioeconomic outcomes after neurologic injury. He has received several prestigious research awards since 2007, including the American Spinal Injury Association Research Award (2007), which was awarded for a manuscript focused on disparities in earnings after SCI, NARRTC Research Awards (2008, 2011),Patricia McCollom Memorial Research Award from the Foundation for Life Care Planning (2008), the Apple Award from the American Spinal Injury Association (2009), and the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association Research Award (2010), which was conferred for a manuscript examining the effects of pre- and post-injury education on obtaining employment. Dr. Krause, who has tetraplegia of 40 years, was inducted into the SCI Hall of Fame by the National SCI Association in 2008 and received the National Medtronic Courage Award in 2011, the first time it has been awarded to someone in biomedical or rehabilitation research (previous awardees include Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. Max Cleland, Christopher Reeves, Stephen Hawking, Ed Roberts, and Judith Heumann). Most recently, he received the Distinguished Service Award from NARRTC, an award previously made to Sen. Tom Harkin and Sen. Bob Dole. Dr. Krause and the research team are particularly proud of these last two awards as they represent external acknowledgment of the importance of our work to the lives of people with disabling conditions.

Lee SaundersLee Saunders, PhD
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Health Science and Research, College of Health Professions

Curriculum Vitae

Lee Saunders, PhD is an epidemiologist who holds the rank of Research Assistant Professor. She obtained her PhD in 2008 from the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at MUSC. Dr. Saunders is currently the Co-Director of three NIDILRR funded center grants, including the Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI, an RRTC on Secondary Conditions in Individuals with SCI, and Successful Employment and Quality Work Life after Severe Disability due to SCI. . Within these centers she serves as PI on a study of access to care among a population-based cohort of persons with SCI and a study investigating chronic health outcomes among underserved populations with neurologic injury. She also serves as PI on a statewide outcomes study in SC. Dr. Saunders has authored or co-authored 4 publications and 51 presentations, of which a large portion highlight employment and socioeconomic outcomes after neurologic injury. She was recently awarded the Developing Scholar of the Year Award (2010) through CHP. 

Study Team Members and Consultants

Phil RumrillPhillip Rumrill, Ph.D., CRC

Curriculum Vitae

Phillip Rumrill, Ph.D., CRC is a Professor and Coordinator of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program and Director of the Center for Disability Studies at Kent State University in Ohio. He is also the Founding Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Employment Assistance Service, which provides vocational services and supports to people with multiple sclerosis across the United States. Since completing his doctorate in 1993, Dr. Rumrill has authored approximately 225 professional publications, including 11 commercially published books. Dr. Rumrill's research interests focus on issues in education and employment for people with disabilities, including workplace discrimination, implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, on-the-job accommodations, and employment outcomes for people with chronic illnesses. Dr. Rumrill has received honors and recognition for his work from such organizations as the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the National TRIO Foundation, and the National Federation of the Blind. In 2005, he was named Rehabilitation Researcher of the Year by the National Council on Rehabilitation Education. As a person with a significant disability (blindness) and a former Vocational Rehabilitation consumer, Dr. Rumrill has a personal as well as a professional interest in issues facing people with disabilities in all aspects of society. Accordingly, his teaching, research, program development, administrative, and clinical activities are imbued with the ideals of inclusion, equality of opportunity, and consumer choice that have brought him success in his own career.

Yue CaoYue Cao, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

Yue Cao, PhD holds the rank of Research Associate in the College of Health Professions at MUSC. He graduated from the joint program (PhD in Medical Sociology, and MSPH in Epidemiology) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He previously worked at the NSCISC where he completed his training and is knowledgeable of that data set. In the past four years, he has authored or co-authored 10 publications and 12 presentations.

Deborah BackusDeborah Backus, PhD, PT

Curriculum Vitae

Deborah Backus, PhD, PT is the Director of Research for the Andrew C. Carlos MS Institute at Shepherd Center and Assistant Professor in the Doctoral Physical Therapy Program at Emory University. Previously the Associate Director of SCI Research at Shepherd Center, she is an experienced physical therapist, educator, and neuroscientist involved in rehabilitation and translational research, and her focus is on improving the health, function, participation, and quality of life of people with MS. She was the Shepherd Center principal investigator for a multi-center trial for which she worked to recruit 600 of the 1500 participants. Her role as PI involved the oversight of over 50 clinicians in daily data collection and of a data abstractor and interviewer for medical and follow up data collection, as well as data analysis, interpretation and write up. Dr. Backus serves as an Associate Editor for Topics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation and is currently the lead reviewer on the Knowledge, Dissemination, Utilization project at Shepherd Center (lead center at Boston University) and an invited reviewer for the MSKTC. 

David GrayDavid Gray, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

David Gray, PhD is a Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine focused in community based rehabilitation. He was the Deputy Director of the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1990 through 1995. From 1986 to 1987, he was the Director of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. He was active in developing the Participation and Environment components of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. He has developed six measures of subjective reports of participation and environmental facilitators and barriers to participation for those with mobility, visual and hearing limitations His research team has developed objective measures of community sites that are being used to provide accessibility information available on the internet to those with limitations to improve their community participation. His latest survey, Mobility Device User Work Survey was designed to identify characteristics of people with disabilities who work and the receptivity of their work environments and will be used in the proposed study.

Michelle MeadeMichelle A. Meade, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

Michelle A. Meade, PhD is a rehabilitation psychologist who conducts research with and provides clinical services to individuals with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology at Ohio University, completed her internship at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. Dr. Meade was recently promoted to an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation within the School of Medicine at the University of Michigan. Her primary research interests focus around improving the health and participation of individuals with spinal cord injury from traditionally underserved populations. She is the principal investigator on several grants from federal agencies and private foundations in addition to serving as a co-investigator to the UM UM-SCI Model Systems and co-PI of the NIDILRR funded UM-AACIL Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Program. She is active in numerous professional associations and scientific boards, including serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professional's section of Psychologists and Social Worker and on the editorial board for the journal Topics in Spinal Cord Injury. Dr. Meade brings to this project significant experience with conducting qualitative research and translating findings into peer reviewed manuscripts, consumer programs, professional training and clinical interventions.

Joseph TerzaJoseph V. Terza, PhD

Curriculum Vitae

Joseph V. Terza, PhD is a health econometrician and Professor of Economics at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, previously serv