Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA
Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA

Helen S. Cohen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA


Dr. Cohen is Professor, Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.  She is the 2014 recipient of the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship and delivered her lecture, A career in inquiry, at AOTA's 95th Annual Conference & Expo, in Nashville on Friday, April 17, 2015.  This excerpt from the AOTA 2014 Awards brochure describes Dr. Cohen's research and practice interests.  (Retrieved on January 31, 2015 from (http://www.aota.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/EducationCareers/Awards/By-Year/2014-AOTA-AOTF-Award-Recipients.pdf.)

Dr. Helen S. Cohen receives the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship Award for her scholarly research, clinical practice, and teaching, which has been instrumental in developing strong evidence and expanding the scope of practice for occupational therapists in the area of vestibular rehabilitation. Dr. Cohen has presented internationally to therapists and physicians on how vestibular dysfunction reduces independence and participation in personal self-care skills and instrumental activities of daily living, and her work has provided evidence about the value of vestibular rehabilitation programs and occupational therapy for clients with many different types of vestibular disorders. Her collaborative work with investigators in the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at NASA/Johnson Space Center has provided an occupational therapist's perspective on specific on-going research projects and on general recommendations for the neuroscience research program for space exploration.

Q and A

Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Hardworking, focused, intellectual.

How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
With greater knowledge comes the power to give better care, to improve the lives of our patients.

What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Be focused on one area of interest and learn everything you can about it.

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?
Research related to the many problems of aging. The population is aging; if we are going to have a significant role in the care of seniors then we need to be involved in research on all aspects of aging and care of elderly people, from behavioral mechanisms of motor problems and treatment of age-related weakness and balance disorders to the psychosocial aspects of care.

Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
Every teacher, professor, mentoring therapist has had advice and has served as a role model in some way.  Even negative feedback has been useful to tell me how I appear to others and what I need to work on.

Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
Walking, observing nature.

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

  • Great people I have met.
  • The opportunity to participate in fascinating research  in other areas of science that were not my initial focus, but for which my skills and background have been appropriate. Also, the opportunity to influence the direction of the science in grant reviews and manuscript reviews.
  • The opportunity to travel to interesting places for scientific meetings.

Selected References

Cohen, HS.  (Ed.).  (1999). Neuroscience for rehabilitation. (2nd Ed.).  Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott; Williams & Wilkins.

Cohen, HS. (2014). Use of the Vestibular Disorders Activities of Daily Living Scale to describe functional limitations in patients with vestibular disorders. Journal of Vestibular Research, 24, 33-38.

Cohen, HS, Burkhardt, A, Cronin, GW, McGuire, MJ.  (2006). Specialized knowledge and skills in adult vestibular rehabilitation for occupational therapy practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 669-678.

Reschke, MF, Cohen, HS, Cerisano, JM, Clayton, JA, Cromwell, R, Danielson, RW, Hwang, EY, Tingen, C, Allen, JR, Tomko, DL. (2014). Effects of sex and gender on adaptation tospace: neurosensory systems. Journal of Women's Health (Larchmont), 23, 959-962.

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