Research funding at Georgia State University has grown by 81 percent since 2014, reaching $147 million in 2017. So how do the university and its colleges maintain that growth? One way is through internal initiation grants to help faculty fund pilot studies. These pilot studies, in turn, provide much-needed data so researchers may apply for more substantial, externally funded research grants. The Lewis College awards $7,000 internal, one-year grants as well as the Lewis Foundation Grant, a $10,000 award for new research initiatives.
Faculty in nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy received grants in 2018 to study topics ranging from nutrition in grandparents raising grandchildren to use of music to build motor skills in stroke patients and teaching health literacy to nursing students.
The number of grandparents raising grandchildren in the United States stands at 2.7 million in 2018. While programs, such as Georgia State University’s Project Healthy Grandparents, assist these custodial grandparents, little attention is given to nutrition and food availability for these families. At least a third of the grandparents are over the age of 60. Many live on fixed incomes and have health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, which require better nutrition.
Dr. Kellie Mayfield, assistant professor of nutrition, will use a Lewis College internal research grant to study nutritional issues of custodial African-American grandmothers and their families living in metro Atlanta that participated in Project Healthy Grandparents at GSU. Dr. Mayfield will investigate the grandmothers’ issues surrounding nutrition including perceived access to healthy foods, food shopping habits as well as transportation barriers limiting food access.
In another, interdisciplinary study, researchers examine the effectiveness of “teach back” techniques among nursing students to build patients’ health literacy. Health literacy is a patient’s ability to understand, interpret and adequately use healthcare information received from healthcare professionals. The U.S. health literacy rate stands at a dismal 12 percent, and there is a direct correlation between low health literacy and poor health.
Dr. Chip Zimmerman, respiratory therapy clinical associate professor, and his interdisciplinary team including a health literacy expert from the College of Education & Human Development, Dr. Iris Feinberg and Dr. Terri Hendry from nursing, received a Lewis College grant to develop and implement a health literacy communication program “Teach-Back” for nursing students to practice in clinical simulation. Dr. Zimmerman credits Dr. Feinberg, the health literacy expert, for introducing him to the concept of teach-back, surprising him with the impact on patient outcomes and disease maintenance.
A third internal research study focuses on the use of piano playing as therapy for stroke patients to regain hand motor functions. Motor therapy after a stroke is an integral part of recovery. But therapy is often drudgery for patients already coping with the disabling factors of a stroke. Four Georgia State researchers hit on the idea of using piano exercises to aid upper limb recovery in stroke patients.
Dr. Yi-An Chen, assistant professor of occupational therapy (OT), along with OT colleague Dr. Emily Buchman and OT chair, Dr. Kinsuk Maitra work with Dr. Martin Norgaard, School of Music, to provide mobile music therapy to the patients.
Participants practice playing on a 62-key portable electric keyboard which gives the experience of playing a full-size piano. They follow lessons loaded onto an iPad. This mobile keyboard/iPad therapy makes therapy more accessible to the patient as they can play at home instead of traveling to rehab services. Many post-stroke patients have transportation issues that make travel to rehab services complicated. Playing this portable piano for an hour daily for three weeks increases the hand motor functions and is a pleasurable experience for the patient.