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Rehabilitation Science (PhD) Overview

The PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Utah is an interprofessional doctoral program that allows students to develop their clinical expertise and unique line of research while working alongside other rehabilitation scientists and health care providers.

Students in the program come from diverse backgrounds including occupational therapy, recreational therapy, physical therapy, kinesiology, athletic training, and other health care disciplines. 

Faculty from the Department of Occupational and Recreational Therapies participate in the program and are available to serve as mentors to students who have similar research interests.

Students have opportunities to take part in:

  • Internally-and externally-funded research projects
  • Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research
  • Developing and testing evidence-based interventions
  • Teaching experiences in our OT and RT programs
  • Interprofessional education and collaboration

Current faculty projects (faculty named in parentheses) include the following focus areas:

Technology based recreation

(R. Nelson)

  • Virtual reality usability and efficacy
  • Technology based music making as a treatment modality
  • Therapeutic use of robotic pets with older adults
  • Shared adaptive e-biking for client and healthcare worker wellbeing

Neurological conditions

(L. Richards, A. Terrill, M. Zahl)

  • Feasibility of adaptive recreation as cost effective rehabilitation intervention for spinal cord injury
  • Non-pharmacological treatment options for improving health and well-being for individuals with neurological conditions
  • Interventions to promote resilience for persons with neurological conditions and their care partners
  • Understanding changes in relationships after neurological injury
  • mHealth/app development
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Predictors of recovery and response to therapies


(A. Kirby)

  • Understanding suicide risks and mental health needs
  • Education to support suicide prevention
  • Supporting the transition to adulthood for youth and families

General Information on the PhD in Rehabilitation Science Program

For information on working with a specific faculty mentor, contact the faculty member directly.