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Back to Blog Main Page MossRehab Patients Give Back as Volunteers in Research
By: Jean Carl


Sep 21 2021

Jim Rigney was just 61 when he suffered a stroke that affected the functions of his left arm and leg. Just days after hospitalization, he started working with physical, occupational, and speech therapists at MossRehab to begin recovery. Many practices were focused on regaining walking and arm functions. While in rehab, he learned about the opportunities to get involved with studies conducted by the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI). Wanting to give back to those who helped rebuild his life, he joined MRRI Research Registry, a program for recruiting patients as volunteers in studies.

“I felt I owed something as a thank you,” says Rigney. “By serving as a volunteer for studies, I can help provide a better understanding of the human brain and what can happen during a stroke to help treat the next patient.”

Rigney’s first study involved participating in robot-assisted therapy featuring virtual reality games. During this study, he spent a few hours each week on this new therapy equipment, engaging in video-based exercises while his left arm was supported by the robotic system. In addition to helping clinical researchers gain information on the effectiveness of this robotic equipment in rehab, Rigney enjoyed getting out of the house and receiving a few extra hours of therapy. He also liked meeting interesting people and learning more about stroke research.

Since that study, Rigney worked on other programs that tested his eyesight and memory, including a study investigating spatial navigation problems in people with stroke.

“People receiving neurorehabilitation sometimes want to gain a better understanding of their impairments and potential treatments,” explains Sharon M. Antonucci, PhD, CCC-SLP, MRRI Clinical Researcher and Director of the MRRI Research Registry. “One way is by joining the Registry and participating as volunteers in MRRI/MossRehab studies. Study participants can potentially help improve rehab services for people with similar neurological disorders.”

MossRehab patients can choose studies

MossRehab patients who join the Registry have the opportunity to participate in one or more studies that focus on speech, language, attention, memory, movement, and emotional well-being. Some research projects involve individuals in physical or speech therapy activities or tests such as MRIs that help further the understanding of problems that result from a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson’s Disease. Rigney prefers physical studies, but did participate in one that required getting an MRI.

Dr. Antonucci notes, “Study participation is entirely voluntary. When contacted for a research opportunity, individuals have the freedom to join or decline each time.”

Who can join the Registry?

MossRehab inpatients and outpatients aged 18 to 89 with a diagnosis of stroke, traumatic brain injury, or Parkinson’s Disease can join the Registry. Family, friends and members of the local community with or without a history of neurological conditions also can join.

People interested in joining the Registry participate in an informed consent process during which a Registry staff member provides details about participation and eligibility. Those who join may be contacted about research opportunities. Information is kept confidential.

“The Registry continues to grow and we are always happy to be in touch with anyone who is interested in more information,” Dr. Antonucci remarks. “As new scientists join the Institute, we may expand the Registry to include those with other types of neurological disorders.”

Learn more about the Registry and how to become a volunteer.


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