procedures, methods, and devices that can improve the lives of people with mentally and physically disabling conditions. An overriding goal of the agency is to foster developments that facilitate integration of people with disabling conditions into independent and semi-independent community life.
Approximately one third of NIDRR's budget is allocated for support of 40 research and training centers and 18 rehabilitation engineering centers, most of which are located at universities. Both types of centers have core specialties, and emphasis is on transferring useful research results to the service delivery system. Specialties of the multidisciplinary centers include functional electrical stimulation, musculoskeletal disorders, work-site modifications, deafness and communication disorders, blindness and low vision, mental illness, mental retardation, and developmental problems of newborns with disabilities and neuromuscular disorders. Separate from the centers is the NIDRR-supported network of 13 Model Spinal Cord Injury Care Systems, each providing an integrated set of services to patients with spinal cord injuries. The network includes the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, which collects and analyzes demographic data and information on methods of patient management, secondary complications, and rehabilitation outcomes.
NIDRR also supports demonstration projects intended to address specific rehabilitation needs and to communicate research-generated information to service providers and their clients. The institute supports investigator-initiated research projects; awards small grants for testing new concepts, prototype aids and devices, and training curricula; and funds a small research training program. In addition, NIDRR maintains a national data base for disseminating information on rehabilitation research.
As mandated by Congress, NIDRR has primary responsibility for coordinating rehabilitation research among federal agencies. The NIDRR director is the chairman of the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, which is charged with promoting communication and joint research activities among the committee's 27 member agencies. These agencies include categorical institutes of the National Institutes of Health and the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration; the National Science Foundation; units of the departments of Veterans Affairs, Education, and Labor; and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Collectively, these agencies carry out a varied program of rehabilitation research. In 1984 the National Institutes of Health tabulated 688 rehabilitation-related research projects, which received total funding of $78 million. Apart from these projects are basic studies that are helping to elucidate the biological underpinnings of impairment and disability.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, through its Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, also supports a large rehabilitation research program, allocating approximately $22 million in 1990 to fund more than 175