Catherine Lysack, PhD, OT(C)
Catherine Lysack, PhD, OT(C)

Catherine Lysack, PhD, OT(C)


Dr. Lysack is the Deputy Director of the Institute of Gerontology (IOG) and a Professor in the Department of Health Care Sciences (Occupational Therapy) at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.  

Dr. Lysack's research focuses on the social, physical and environmental influences on health, and understanding how older adults and people with disability redevelop active and meaningful lives in the community after illness and injury. She has conducted numerous studies including recent studies to evaluate methods to strengthen occupational therapy practice skills in mental health, and identify factors that facilitate community participation after spinal cord injury. She is presently conducted research on two projects: 1) Household Downsizing in Late Life, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and 2) Social Reintegration of Service-members and Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury Returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. (Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from http://www.cphs.wayne.edu/research/occupational_research.php.)



Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Curious. Tenacious. Diplomatic.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope my work assists future therapists to be bold and creative in their work -- to examine functional problems in new ways so their patients can more easily achieve their goals.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Work on your writing skills now.  Scientists and researchers devote a great deal of time and effort to grant writing and publication of research findings.  Excellent writing skills are absolutely essential.

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?
Science in general and science in the field of OS and OT should devote more resources to studying the root causes and effective treatments for mental health conditions, particularly depression.  Depression alone may be the single greatest cause of disability and lost productivity there is.  We should work harder on these large human problems.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
Mentors make you believe you can do it, when you are less sure. Mentors open doors to understanding and insight and they inspire.  You will not go far, or anywhere worthwhile without mentors.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Playing competitive squash and working outside planting green things!

What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
It is a pleasure seeing my work make a difference in practice.  Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a student or a clinician use my research findings to make life better for someone else.  That is the greatest reward.


Arthanat, S, Vroman, KG & Lysack C.  (2014). A home-based individualized information communication technology training program for older adults: a demonstration of effectiveness and value. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 16, 1-9.  http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/17483107.2014.974219

Ficker, LJ, Lysack, CL, Hanna, M & Lichtenberg PA. (2014). Perceived Cognitive Impairment among African American elders: health and functional impairments in daily life.  Aging and Mental Health, 18, 471-480.

Luborsky, MR, Lysack, CL & Van Nuil, J. (2011). Refashioning One's Place in Time: Stories of Household Downsizing in Later Life.  Journal of Aging Studies, 25, 243-252.

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