Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology
711 South Vienna Street
Ruston, LA 71270
Tel: 318.257.4562//800.210.4251 (LA only)
Within the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science (CBERS), many activities related to rehabilitation engineering research, service and technology are conducted with the Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) under agreements with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services. CREST's primary mission is to provide Assistive Technology assessment and training services to consumers with disabilities. Through a partnership with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, the Center provides services at no cost to consumers and counselors. Currently, the services available include: Activities of Daily Living; Augmentative and Alternative Communication; Computer Access; Driver Rehabilitation/Transportation; Rehabilitation Engineering; and, Seating and Wheeled Mobility.
The Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) first began providing services under the Biomedical Engineering Program at Louisiana Tech University in 1979 through agreements with the Louisiana Council on Developmental Disabilities and Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (then the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation). Initially, the program included services in the areas of Augmentative and Alternative Communications and Driver Rehabilitation. In 1984, a Computer Training program, a Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) sponsored dormitory, Rehabilitation Engineering Field Services, Activities of Daily Living Program and Seating and Wheeled Mobility programs were formally established. The addition of these programs coincided with the creation of the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science (CBERS) formerly known as CyBERS. The dormitory program served students in the computer training program as well as those Louisiana Tech University students enrolled in regular degree programs. In 1988, the Computer Access program was added to our services program.
The program has become regionally and nationally known for its quality services and education programs. As the Center has developed over the years, the university's motto of Education, Research and Service has been a priority.
CREST staff became involved with the academic program as instructors and mentors for students in the College of Engineering in the early 1980's. Undergraduate and graduate Biomedical Engineering students were given the opportunity to gain unique hands-on experience with consumers and the assistive technology at the Center. Several Biomedical Engineering students have specialized in Rehabilitation Engineering, and are providing similar services for several state and private sector rehabilitation services agencies. Our graduates are currently serving state Rehabilitation Services Agencies in Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio. Two of our graduates, Kimberly Pace and Mandy Nunnery are current staff members. Center staff also work with students in the engineering, architecture, vocational rehabilitation, speech and hearing programs to provide support with student design projects.
From 1988 - 2004, the Center received funding from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to provide training in assistive technology for rehabilitation services providers. This training program was developed for rehabilitation engineers, technicians, and counselors, and was provided to participants in RSA Region VI (Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma). The program was funded through 1997, with over 200 professionals participating in the program.
In 1998, the Center received funding to establish a series of graduate Biomedical Engineering courses in Assistive Technology. These courses were taught through a distance learning program. Fifteen hours of graduate credit was available to rehabilitation service providers and Louisiana Tech students through the graduate BME program. The course instructors are the CCRT staff, who teach in their areas of responsibility. Upon completion of the courses, a Certificate in Assistive Technology is awarded. This certificate is a Board of Regents approved program. The grant funded all costs for the students, including tuition, fees, travel and a stipend for the Assistive Technology Practitioner examination.
As a benefit to LRS, the Center was able to enroll 17 counselors, supervisors and REAP staff in the program. One of the goals of the program is for students to pass the examination to obtain the credential of Assistive Technology Provider, awarded through RESNA. To date, 2 LRS employees have successfully obtained the ATP credential, while 3 other approved LRS services providers have obtained the certification.
Although the RSA project has ended, the Center continues to provide a variety of high quality training programs in the field of Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Services. Training programs have been created in all of our program areas with a variety of topics in each. In addition, the Center hosts an annual two-day conference, Spring Into AT, for educators, rehabilitation professionals and consumers.