Arthritis Investigator Award
West Virginia University

How do you think your research will impact your local community?
Our study will compare health and economic outcomes in patients with arthritis who receive telemedicine follow-up using Internet-based technology versus office follow-up after total joint replacement.  The high prevalence of arthritis in West Virginia (highest in the nation), coupled with the state’s rural geography and numerous medically underserved communities makes it imperative for orthopaedic surgeons to seek innovative ways to provide medical services to more residents in the state with arthritis who have undergone total joint replacement.  Providing greater access to orthopaedic services for patients after joint replacement in West Virginia could potentially reduce health disparities in the state and perhaps, establish a health care delivery model for other rural states to adopt.

How would you ultimately like to see your research applied?

If our study is able to document the benefits of using telemedicine follow-up after total joint replacement, we would hope to see the model translated into clinical practice in West Virginia, with an expansion in the number and type of telemedicine sites throughout the state.

What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?

The Arthritis Foundation is the ultimate resource for patient education materials.  I have utilized their brochures and books in my clinical practice as a physical therapist and have encouraged patients to join the organization.

What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The conduct of academic research depends on our ability to secure external funding from organizations such as the Arthritis Foundation.  I was able to complete my doctoral dissertation because of a Doctoral Dissertation Award that I received from the Foundation.  Furthermore, I have just received an Arthritis Investigator Award that will facilitate my development as an independent investigator in arthritis research.

Given the prevalence of arthritis – one in five Americans with the disease – do you have a personal connection that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
In addition to my former clinical practice that focused on treating individuals with arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia are prevalent in my family.  I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1994 and have utilized the resources of the Arthritis Foundation to self-manage my condition.

Considering all the medical conditions in need of your field of research, what are the mysteries surrounding arthritis that interest you most?
I have always been fascinated by how people with chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, continue to thrive in their lives and demonstrate a remarkable ability to cope with the emotional, physical, psychological, and financial consequences of living with arthritis.

When you’re not in the lab, where can you most often be found?

At a Pittsburgh Steelers game or the local wellness center (gym)

Favorite non-medical book you read last?

Fodor’s Spain guide book – since I was attending the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology (EULAR) in Barcelona.

Favorite music and artist?
My brother’s local blues and soul band

If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?

I would own a bakery.

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