Suryakumar Shah, PhD, OTD, MEd, OTR, FAOTA
Dr. Shah was Professor of Occupational Therapy, AT Still University, Mesa, Arizona and a Senior Research Fellow of the Stockton Center on Successful Aging (SCOSA) before his retirement after a fifty-seven year career.
At the age of 78 years I decided to retire from full-time OT. I completed 57 years in four continents as an occupational therapy clinician, private practitioner, educator, chair, researcher, and a mentor. I had the privilege of being the first professor of occupational therapy in England, UK; first professor of OT and a first OT professor of Neurology at the UTHSC, Memphis, a Professor of OT at the A T Still University in Arizona, and a visiting professor of neurorehabilitation at the LMU, Leeds, UK. One of my functional measures, the Modified Barthel Index (MBI) for dependency needs of people with disability, has been translated in numerous languages and is one of the most cited (1207 researchers) research by health professionals. I also granted permission to use the MBI in funded research to Merck & Co (11 nations Hip # trial), Abbott International (23 nations TBI trial), and now Bristol-Meyers-Squibb (Across the Globe pediatric research). My academic focus has been generating new knowledge (120 peer-reviewed publications), evaluating new knowledge (reviewer of 15 journals and databases), and disseminating emerging trends for practicing therapists (120 peer-reviewed presentations).
Q AND A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Assiduous, Doyen, Resplendent.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
Tap dormant potential in each individual, instill an attitude to strive higher, and challenge borrowed occupational therapy concepts to make their own distinct impact on quality of life of patients we serve.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Please define your purpose, stay focused, and work hard. Don't be discouraged even if things look insurmountable - be persistent. Do not waste time dichotomizing the intertwined patient care, research and science.
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?
Occupational therapy publications should actively solicit "Letters to the Editor" that challenge proposed concept/s from theorists to maximize scientific impact.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
The surgeons demonstrated by example the importance of documenting every patient interaction and encouraging converting interactions to generating new knowledge.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Travel with the family that explores environments, exchanges cultural heritages and enhances capacity to participate globally for sensitivity to culture rich differences.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The openness of medical journal editors to accept novel contributions without prejudice or hidden agenda to explore all research dimensions for interconnectedness and interdependence.
Shah, S. Tartaro, C., Chew, F., Morris, M. (2013). Rehabilitation efficiency and effectiveness in minimizing dependency in patients with arthritis: Analyses of 3,551 admissions. PRO Newsletter, 50, 16-23.
Cherry, K., Kitchens, K., Nicholson, C., Soden, I., Tomkiewicz, J., Kedia, M., & Shah, S. (2009). Cultural awareness and competency of graduate entry-level OT students. Education: Special Interest Quarterly, 19, 1-4.
Shah, S., Holmes, & Leisman, G. (2007). Performance on figure ground perception following stroke induced hemiplegia: A comparison of pre- and post-rehabilitation with the neurologically unimpaired. International Journal of Neurosciences, 117, 711-31.
Shah, S., & Muncer, S. A. (2003). Comparison of rehabilitation outcome measures for traumatic brain injury. OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health, 23, 2-9.
Shah, S., Vanclay, F., & Cooper, B. (1992). Stroke rehabilitation: Who benefits? Comparison of medical wards and rehabilitation units. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, 4, 401-10.
Shah, S., & Bain, C. (1989). Admissions, patterns of utilization and disposition of acute strokes in Brisbane hospitals. Medical Journal of Australia, 150, 256-260.