Bringing evidence-based interventions to real-world patient outcomes

Physical therapy is an essential component of treating patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Miriam Rafferty is developing new physical therapy regimens to further improve rehabilitation outcomes. Her innovative approach includes improving communication with treating physicians and integrating new technologies like biomedical sensors. View Halo Profile >>

Tell us about your research…

Implementation science research studies the strategies that clinicians can use to better implement evidence-based interventions into real-world practice. This involves understanding the interactions between the intervention itself, clinician factors, client/patient factors, organizational environment, and the healthcare system.

Examples of my work include studying ways that physical therapists and the interdisciplinary healthcare team can help people with Parkinson’s disease achieve recommended levels of exercise; improving the training provided to physical therapists to complete complex interventions, such as high-intensity gait training, in people with neurologic injuries; and implementing novel sensor technology to aide in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Can you explain that to a non-scientist?

My research studies the way that clinicians can improve their patients’ outcomes with evidence-based practice and technology. My research has led to strategies that help people with Parkinson’s disease exercise more, enable people with stroke to receive higher-quality physical therapy, and equip clinicians to use sensors to measure their patients’ outcomes.

My research studies the way that clinicians can improve their patients’ outcomes with evidence-based practice and technology.

How could it someday impact patient lives?

The majority of my research directly impacts patients now, in real-time. Our research collects data from active clinicians, patients and administrators, and uses that data to select implementation strategies to improve the use of evidence-based practices. We then measure the effectiveness of implementation strategies based on the extent to which clinical practice and patient outcomes change.​ When things are effective in our local studies, we share them with researchers and clinicians worldwide.

The majority of my research directly impacts patients now, in real-time. Our research collects data from active clinicians, patients and administrators, and uses that data to select implementation strategies to improve the use of evidence-based practices.

In addition to her role at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Dr. Rafferty is also an Assistant Professor at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.