Academics / Academic Programs / PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences

Mentored-Based Concentration Areas

Upon admission to the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program, you will select an area of concentration and a mentor with whom you would like to work.

The specific requirements of your program of study will be determined by your choice of one of the following three areas:

  • Activity, Participation & Environment
  • Intervention, Processes & Outcomes
  • Human Movement & Adaptation

Activity, Participation & Environment

Research in the Activity, Participation & Environment concentration focuses on clarifying the dynamic transactions between persons and their environment that influence activity performance and participation in home and community. The overall goal is to identify pathways to successful participation and to apply this understanding to enable persons with and without disabilities to achieve this goal. Research in this concentration includes development of new measures of activity, participation, and environment; exploration of the participation experiences of persons of different ages and disabilities; needs assessment; and investigation of the relationship between individuals, environments, activities, and participation outcomes. The research faculty seek students with a strong background in the social and behavioral sciences as well as students with relevant clinical preparation as occupational or physical therapists.

Activity, Participation & Environment: Prerequisites, Coursework, Courses

Prerequisites

A clinical degree and experience are desirable, but not required. However, a strong interest in health-related research is essential.

Applicants must document prior coursework providing a foundation in the following three areas:

  • Basic research methods and introductory statistics
  • Developmental theory and/or adaptive processes
  • Understanding health and disability

Coursework

In addition to the common core coursework required of all students in the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program, and dependent on the student’s area of research, some or all of the following courses might need to be taken during the doctoral program. In addition, electives are selected in consultation with the mentor to build knowledge of theory and methodology in the area of planned research. Courses may be taken at BU Sargent College, other graduate programs at Boston University, or at Consortium schools (Boston College, Brandeis, and Tufts). All courses listed are 4 credits, unless otherwise specified.

Courses

SARHP804: Practicum: Teaching in the Health Professions

Supervised academic teaching in the health professions. Development and implementation of a teaching unit. Critique of teaching styles. Development of a teaching portfolio. (Credits: Var)

SARRS870: Emerging Topics

A seminar for doctoral students that focuses on a different topic each semester. (Credits: Var)

SEDRS652: Qualitative Research Methods

The historical and theoretical bases and the techniques for conducting qualitative research. Analysis of the questions for which qualitative research is best suited and how it differs from quantitative research. Consideration of ethical issues in qualitative research. Students critique published research and engage in planning a study, gaining entry, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting the findings. 4cr, either sem. (Credits: 4)

A minimum of 16 elective credits should be taken. Sample elective topics include:

  • cognition and language
  • contemporary issues in maternal and child health
  • developmental science
  • epidemiology
  • ergonomics
  • human neuropsychology
  • psychometric theory
  • research methods, including survey research and clinical trials
  • social perspectives on aging and old age
  • work and society

Intervention, Processes & Outcomes

Research in the Intervention, Processes & Outcomes concentration focuses on developing and evaluating theoretically informed rehabilitation interventions and programs aimed at minimizing disability and optimizing functioning and participation in daily life activities among persons with or at risk of disability. Research in this concentration includes developing and testing novel rehabilitation approaches, physical activity and exercise interventions, and self-management and educational programs delivered in the clinic and community. Research faculty seek students with a strong background in clinical rehabilitation sciences (e.g., physical and occupational therapy) and behavioral and social sciences.

Intervention, Processes & Outcomes: Prerequisites, Coursework, Courses

Prerequisites

A clinical degree and experience are desirable, but not required. However, a strong interest in health-related research is essential. Students must come into this concentration with a master’s degree.

Applicants must document prior coursework providing a foundation in the following areas:

  • basic research methods and introductory statistics
  • understanding health and disability

Coursework

In addition to the common core coursework required of all students in the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program, students need to take concentration area courses and electives dependent on their area of research. The courses are selected in consultation with the mentor to build knowledge of theory and methodology in the area of planned research. The electives may be taken at BU Sargent College, other graduate programs at Boston University, or at Consortium schools (Boston College, Brandeis, and Tufts). For example, students participating in the ENACT training program have the following required concentration area courses (11 credits). All courses listed are 4 credits, unless otherwise specified.

Courses

Required concentration area courses (11 credits)*

SARRS870: Emerging Topics

A seminar for doctoral students that focuses on a different topic each semester. (Credits: Var)

SPHEP713: Introduction to Epidemiology

EP713 is the sole introductory epidemiology course for all SPH programs (replacing EP711 and EP712). The goals of EP713 are to introduce the basic principles and methods of epidemiology and demonstrate their applicability to public health and research and to provide fundamental skills needed to begin to interpret and critically evaluate literature relevant to public health professionals. Topics include measures of disease frequency and effect, epidemiologic study designs, bias, and screening for disease. Class lectures are interspersed with active learning exercises consisting of a mixture of in-class problems, exercises, and discussions, and online and independent learning modules further enable students to achieve the learning objectives. (Credits: 3)

SPHEP813: Intermediate Epidemiology

The purpose of this course is to further develop the methodologic concepts underlying the science of epidemiology. The material covered is intended to broaden and extend the student's understanding of the elements of study design, data analysis, and inference in epidemiologic research, including issues related to causation, bias, and confounding. The primary aims of the course are to provide working knowledge of the fundamentals of epidemiology as well as to serve as a foundation for more advanced study of epidemiologic methods. The course consists of lectures and workshop sessions. The workshop sessions are designed to reinforce the concepts/topics covered in the lectures. (Credits: 4)

*May substitute other research methods courses for epidemiology courses

Sample Electives

A minimum of 8 elective credits should be taken. More electives might be needed, depending on prior completed coursework.

  • Applied Epidemiology of Aging
  • Clinical Epidemiology
  • Health, Illness, and Health Service Utilization
  • Survey Research
  • Clinical Trials
  • Meta-analyses
  • Advanced Human Movement
  • Foundations of Motor Control
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • ENACT Readings Seminar

Human Movement & Adaptation

Research in the Human Movement & Adaptation concentration is concerned with the biomechanics of movement, the dynamics of coordination and control, and the processes of development, adaptation, and learning. The overall goal is to increase our understanding of human movement and motor development and to apply this knowledge to improve the diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders in individuals with musculoskeletal and neurological impairments. Research in this concentration also includes the development of new rehabilitation technologies such as inertial and gyroscopic activity sensors, powered exoskeletal devices, and foot orthoses. Research faculty seek students with a strong background in engineering, mathematics, physics, and human development, as well as experienced clinical scientists, such as occupational or physical therapists.

Human Movement & Adaptation: Prerequisites, Coursework, Courses

Prerequisites

Must be taken during doctoral program if not completed previously.

  • Calculus I & II
  • Physics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Neurophysiology
  • Psychology
  • Functional Anatomy

Coursework

In addition to the common core coursework required of all students in the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program, and dependent on the student’s selected area of research, some or all of the following courses might need to be taken during the doctoral program. All courses listed are 4 credits unless otherwise specified.

Courses

ENGEK127: Engineering Computation

An introduction to engineering problem solving using a modern computational environment. Basic procedural programming concepts include input/output, branching, looping, functions, file input/output, and data structures such as arrays and structures. An introduction to basic linear algebra concepts such as matrix operations and solving sets of equations. Introduction to numerical methods, for example least squares solutions and their use for curve fitting. Programming projects provided by all College of Engineering departments will reinforce these concepts and introduce engineering freshmen to the various disciplines. (Credits: 4)

SARHP565: Biomechanics of Human Movement

Biomechanics is a powerful tool for understanding why and how we control and coordinate movement in health and disability. The course is designed to provide a conceptual and theoretical basis of biomechanics using applications so that students will learn to problem solve using a biomechanical thought process. There will be many examples of applications including athletics, orthopedic injuries, central nervous system disorders, designing assistive devices, robotics, pediatrics and aging. The course is suitable for physical therapy, athletic training, anthropology, human physiology, and engineering students and anyone interested in understanding human movement from a quantitative perspective. Emphasis will be placed on how to use the tools of biomechanics along with an understanding of functional anatomy to think about normal and abnormal patterns of movement, and in some cases how this information might be used to guide interventions. (Credits: 4)

SARHP737: Instrumentation for Analysis of Motion

This course will explore the different equipment commonly used for human movement analysis. The course can be taken as a seminar (2 credits, 1 class meeting per week) or with the lab (4 credits). Students will gain an understanding of how the equipment works, the steps to using it, and what research questions can be answered with the different technology. Equipment covered in this course will include 3 dimensional motion capture systems, force plates, gait carpet, electromyography (EMG), musculoskeletal modeling and well as others. Students taking the lab portion will also complete a project using the equipment covered in the course. (Credits: Var)

SARHP741: Time-Series Analysis in Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences

This is a lecture and computer laboratory course designed to present students with an introduction to the basic theory and methods of time-series analysis. Emphasis will be placed on the conceptual and methodological commonalities between statistical and dynamical analyses of time-series data obtained experimentally in movement and rehabilitation science research. In particular, emphasis will be place on understanding the manner in which stochastic and deterministic processes combine to structure time-series data, and on the application of graphical and numerical computational techniques that allow this structure to be identified and modeled. Basic skills with calculus, linear algebra, statistics, dynamical systems, and Matlab techniques are encouraged as prerequisites. (Credits: Var)

SARHP771: Foundations of Motor Control

The course includes discussion and synthesis of current theories of human action (performance, learning/plasticity, and development) with an emphasis on systems/constraints, dynamical systems and ecological psychology approaches to human action, perception, and action-perception coupling. It serves as an introduction to these theories. Emphasis is placed on understanding how to conceptualize and evaluate functional movement based on these theories. Student participation in class is essential and required reading should be completed prior to class so that each student can fully participate in discussion. (Credits: Var)

SARHP782: Advanced Human Movement

This is a lecture/reading/seminar course that is designed to allow students to integrate the information they have learned in Philosophy of Science, Biomechanics and Foundations of Motor Control. It has been argued that many philosophical issues in the study of human motor control may be overcome through the concept of self-organization. Self-organization can be thought to emerge from the interplay of constraints. A number of researchers have taken this notion seriously and have suggested that constraints arise through one or more of a number of physical underpinnings, including non-linear dynamic constraints on pattern formation (coordination dynamics), biomechanics and functional anatomy, self-optimization, and perception-action coupling. Research performed in these specific domains will be the topics of the course. To illustrate their differences and similarities, attempts to understand specific functions will be addressed including gait patterns and transitions. Students are expected come to class prepared to answer questions and discuss issues related to the assigned readings. Questions will be directed toward specific individuals and part of the grade will depend on the adequacy of their responses. (Credits: 4)

SARRS870: Emerging Topics

A seminar for doctoral students that focuses on a different topic each semester. (Credits: Var)

SAR-HP550 Scientific Basis of Human Movement (2cr)

 

    student-profile-alhereshRawan Al Heresh: “I feel very privileged to be a part of the Sargent community, and to be learning from such an accomplished group of scholars. The Doctor of Science program is unique because it allows me to collaborate with a diverse group of experts in the field of rehabilitation sciences. I am also part of ENACT, a nationally funded training center for arthritis research, where I have the opportunity work on a clinical trial amongst experts in rheumatology. I hope to bring the skills I’m learning back to the Middle East, where rheumatology is a newer area of research.”