Academy of Research

Susan L. Garber, MA, OTR, FAOTA, FACRM  


Ms. Garber is Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.  Her research interests are in the areas of spinal cord injury, prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, rehabilitation outcomes, technology and rehabilitation, and patient and family education. (Retrieved on April 28, 2015 from


"Ms. Garber was awarded the 2015 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association. Garber is being recognized for her work in advancing the management and education of pressure ulcers, or bedsores." (Retrieved on April 23, 2015 from


Ms. Garber is a member of the AOTF Board of Trustees and was named one of the 100 Influential People of Occupational Therapy by AOTA. 


Q and A

Identify three words that others have used to describe you.  

Conscientious, focused, precise.


How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research? 

Research Improves the health and recovery of patients/clients by questioning and testing existing approaches and exploring opportunities for their enhancement or effectiveness. I hope to teach health professionals how to evaluate and treat pain, especially in vulnerable populations like youths with physical disabilities. 


What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research? 

Actually, there are two: first: have enough clinical experience to determine area(s) of interest in order to ask the right questions; second, initially, identify a mentor whose work you admire and whose work interests you. Do not try to "plug yourself into" a research project that is of no interest to you.  


Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy? 

Again, there are two: development of research skills through structured academic courses as well as during clinical fieldwork where all students should be required to develop a research project; identify a mentor with a track record in research design and implementation.


Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.

Initially, mentors outside the field of occupational therapy (engineers) included me, supported my growth and development as a researcher and challenged me to adapt traditional occupational therapy interventions to solve the clinical problems at the core of the Rehabilitation Engineering Center (effect of pressure on tissue), problems not usually part of the occupational therapy purview.


Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.   

Travel; reading; spending time with my 5 grandchildren.


What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research? 

In part, through my efforts, I have managed to bring a focus on the creation of new knowledge to the profession of occupational therapy. It is most rewarding that I have contributed to a body of knowledge that now is included in the armamentarium of innovative solutions to the clinical problems which our patients face daily.



Clark, F, Pyatak, EA, Carlson, M, Blanche, EI, Vigen, C, Hay, J, Mallinson, T, Blanchard, J, Unger, JB, Garber, SL, Diaz, J, Florindez, LI, Atkins, M, Rubayi, S & Azen,  

SP; PUPS Study Group.  (2014). Implementing trials of complex interventions in communitysettings: the USC-Rancho Los Amigos pressure ulcer prevention study (PUPS). Clinical Trials. 11, 218-229.  


Pyatak, EA, Blanche, EI, Garber, SL, Diaz, J, Blanchard, J, Florindez, L & Clark FA.  (2013), Conducting intervention research among underserved populations: lessons learned and recommendations for researchers. Archives in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94, 1190-1198. 


Wu, GA, Garber, SL & Bogie, KM.  (2015), Utilization and user satisfaction with alternating pressure air cushions: a pilot study of at-risk individuals with spinal cord injury.

Disability and Rehabilitation Assistive Technology, 2015 Mar 24:1-5. [Epub ahead of print]   


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