I first met Rory Cooper at the VA Medical Center in Pittsburgh. He was showcasing a number of products he helped research and develop. I called upon him to join me on the podcast when I saw he was a top 12 finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America People’s Choice Award. (Editor’s note: You can still vote for Rory to win the People’s Choice award — click here.) He’s also nominated in the science and environment category. Rory is going to talk to us about his service in the Army, his spinal cord injury, accommodations for people using wheelchairs, and his research that is benefiting those with similar disabilities.
Rory Cooper, PhD, founder and senior researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Labs (HERL), is a world-renowned expert in wheeled mobility and the pioneer in wheelchair selection and configuration. Dr. Cooper is developing technology to increase the independence of people with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) and equipping them with the skills necessary to operate new technology.
Dr. Cooper founded HERL at the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. Today, HERL conducts more than 74 clinical studies in eight customized labs with 50 staff members, who include engineers, physicians, therapists, research specialists and rehab medical interns. HERL’s mission is to continuously improve the mobility and function of disabled patients through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation.
Covered in Episode 45:
- Secretary Shulkin’s remarks at the American Legion Convention in Reno
- Interview with Army Veteran Rory Cooper
- Rory’s decision to join the Army
- His experience in the military
- His spinal cord injury.
- Life as a handicapped person
- The world’s accommodations (and lack of) for persons in wheelchairs
- His award nominated research
- Explore VA
- #VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran James Buckland