Faculty Highlight: Professor Gary Bedell, PhD, OT, FOTA

Hello!  This is my first foray into writing something about my scholarship and research for the OT blog and I was happy to have been asked and to do so. Five things you might want to know about me:

First, I am director of the Research in Child and Adult Activity Participation (Re-CAAP) lab. My research focuses primarily on the measurement and promotion of participation of adolescents and young adults (AYA) in home, school, work and community settings. Also, I am an international collaborating researcher with the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research.

Second, I work with colleagues worldwide to translate and conduct research with measures that I have developed or co-developed such as the Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP) and Participation and Environment Measure for Children and Youth (PEM-CY).  The CASP and other measures are posted on my website, http://sites.tufts.edu/garybedell/. The PEM-CY (and the Young Children Participation and Environment – YC-PEM) are available on the CanChild website (https://www.canchild.ca/).  The CanChild site also includes the Participation Knowledge Hub (https://www.canchild.ca/en/research-in-practice/participation-knowledge-hub), a site that includes many resources for families, children, and professionals.  

Third, I am co-developer of an intervention, called Social Participation And Navigation (SPAN), and have conducted a number of studies to inform its development, test its feasibility/usability and pilot test its fuller implementation. The current SPAN iteration involves meeting virtually (via Zoom) with a trained Tufts graduate student coach, using a web-based goal planning app as well as tips and strategies on the SPAN website (https://www.spanprogram.com/).SPAN was initially designed for teenagers with traumatic brain injury but is being modified for use by other populations and translated into different languages. 

Fourth, I am currently working on a 2-year study funded by the Deborah Munroe Memorial Foundation to modify SPAN for AYA brain tumor survivors. I am collaborating with the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (Ms. Stephanie Freeman, EdM, LICSW, and New England Regional Outreach Coordinator and Stacia Wagner, MSW, President) along with two Tufts OT research assistants, Miranda Cullen, MS, OT (just completing her Post-professional OTD degree) and Zachary Gould, MS, (1st year Entry-level OTD student). Fortunately, due the virtual nature of SPAN, we have been able to carry out all procedures for this work remotely during the pandemic and will continue to do so post-pandemic. To learn more about where we are in the SPAN project check out our website listed above!

Last, but not least, , I am collaborating with Dr. Megan Mueller, Co-Director, Tufts Institute for Human-Animal-Interaction (TIHAI: https://hai.tufts.edu/), and Nicole Porter, MS (2nd year Entry-Level OTD student) and Jason Getzler (graduating senior with double major in Biology and Spanish), on a project funded by a Tufts Springboard award.  The project involves initial development of an intervention that uses principles from SPAN (e.g., coaching, goal planning, strategy generation) and leverages Human-Animal-interaction (via a dog companion) to promote social connections and participation by adolescents with social anxiety. We just finished analyzing data from interviews (conducted by Nicole) with eight adolescents with social anxiety. These data are being used to inform the initial intervention prototype that we will develop. A small usability study using this prototype is planned for spring 2022 that will be Nicole’s Capstone project for her Doctoral Experience Component  (co-mentored by Dr. Mueller and me).  I am perhaps, most excited about this project because I am TIHAI advisory board member and have a strong love of animals, especially dogs. In June 2020, I adopted a very cute dog named Maxie (in photo) who will be advising me in this exciting line of research!

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