Groundbreaking research, investment in education, community engagement, clinical excellence and advocacy are all areas that Professor Elizabeth Skidmore embodies in her work as an occupational therapist. Her leadership in the field and her dedication to the mission of the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has made her a tremendous asset to the school as chair of the Occupational Therapy Department and associate dean for Research. Her extensive research portfolio has recently earned her the 2022 Women in Rehabilitation Science Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine.
Established in 2018, this award is given “to acknowledge world-class rehabilitation research conducted by a female scientist in rehabilitation science.” She will be awarded later this year at the ACRM 2022 Annual Conference, Progress in Rehabilitation Research, which is “widely recognized as the premier interdisciplinary conference for rehabilitation research.”
“I am very honored to receive this award,” says Skidmore. “It is a distinct pleasure to be recognized by colleagues who I deeply admire for work that I love to do.”
Skidmore grounds her research in the real-life difficulties that people face.
“She has real questions about real people’s issues,” says former AOTA President Carolyn Baum, “and she’s worked deliberately and scientifically to understand the ingredients that must go into an intervention that truly addresses an individual’s needs.”
This line of inquiry led to Skidmore’s co-creation of the BRiTE (Brain Training and Exercise) Wellness Program, designed to include various activities that address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of older adults, especially those who are noticing changes in their cognition.
“Her work has been instrumental in informing the world that when someone has a stroke, it’s not just a motor deficit that they have, but many times accompanying that is a cognitive deficit,” says SHRS Dean Anthony Delitto.
“It’s clear that the science that Beth has generated is recognized by the field as the direction we want to head and a meaningful part of our profession,” confirms Juleen Rodakowski, OT assistant professor.
With expertise in neurological rehabilitation, her research interests include rehabilitation intervention elements that stimulate cognitive function, reduce depressive symptoms and apathy, reduce disability and promote healthy levels of activity and participation after acquired brain injury and stroke.
“I have been very fortunate to have outstanding mentors throughout my journey,” adds Skidmore. “Their investment in me has not only informed my science and my professional development, it has also provided a wonderful roadmap to my investment in other rehabilitation scientists at various stages of development. Mentoring is truly the gift that keeps on giving.”
The ACRM is the latest in a long line of organizations that recognize Skidmore’s scientific contributions, including:
- American Occupational Therapy Association: 100 Influential People in 100 Years (2017)
- American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine: Fellow (2017)
- American Occupational Therapy Association: Fellow (2015)
- United States Government: President's Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2013)
- American Occupational Therapy Foundation: Academy of Research (2013)
- School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences: Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award (2012)
“We’re extremely proud to have someone like Beth within SHRS,” remarks Delitto.