Rehabilitation Research


Allina Health is devoted to meeting the changing needs of people in the community who are living with acute or chronic disability through rehabilitation research that optimizes rehabilitation outcomes and full societal participation.

The Courage Kenny Foundation®—whose mission includes supporting crucial services, programs, and opportunities for those in our community who need them the most—funds the Courage Kenny Research Center.

The Courage Kenny Research Center provides groundbreaking research and advocacy for children and adults who have experienced injury or have disabilities. The high-quality studies conducted by experienced Courage Kenny researchers create genuine progress for rehabilitation for spinal cord injury, cancer, brain injury, and more.

The needs of participants and patients shape Courage Kenny research. Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute® clinicians are actively involved in research studies through partnerships with Courage Kenny researchers. As a result of this collaboration, patients benefit from the information learned from our research studies.

This commitment to education is also reflected in efforts to inform the public about the value of research that benefits our communities. Courage Kenny researchers are regularly involved in sharing their research with local and national audiences who are stakeholders in the areas researched.

Minnesota Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System of Care

MNSCIMS logoCourage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute has recently been designated as part of the Minnesota Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems. This is one of 14 U.S. spinal cord model systems of care that received 5-year research funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. 

This collaborative effort was led by the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in collaboration with Allina Health - Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, HealthPartners - Regions Hospital and Mayo Clinic. For Minnesota rehabilitation researchers, the partnership represents an extraordinary achievement and opportunity to expand innovation and new knowledge development in the service of people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) living in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The overarching goal is to provide improved care and outcomes for people living with SCI. It is based on research that demonstrates an advantage of providing comprehensive versus fragmented SCI care. For more information about the Spinal Cord Injury Model System, visit this website.

Study Participation

The Courage Kenny Research Center’s dedicated staff carefully screens anyone who is interested in participating in one of their studies.

Involvement in a rehabilitation research study is completely voluntary and volunteers must give their consent to participate and may revoke their consent at any time during the duration of a study. Before participation, all volunteers must meet specific criteria. Factors like age, gender and health status may be evaluated for participation. These criteria are to make certain that the study will be safe for participants and researchers will be able to answer the questions they plan to study.

Participation in research studies provides access to new and innovative therapies that will ultimately help people improve their functioning and quality of life after disability or illness. It also provides volunteers an opportunity to take an active role in their healthcare—along with the medical community as a whole.

Current studies

Our Research Team

Senior Scientific Advisor
Senior Scientific Advisor
Senior Scientific Advisor
Affiliated Rehabilitation Scientist – University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Affiliated Rehabilitation Scientist – St. Catherine University
Sarah Pederson, MBA, MA
Director of Clinical Research
Kristina Kath, BS
Research Specialist
Anna Schulte, MPH
Sr. Research Specialist
Ned Tervola, MA, LAT, ATC
Project Manager
Alisa Kocian MA, OTR/L, ATP 
Research Therapist
Natalie Becker, MS, CCC-SLP
Research Therapist
Carolyn Holm, PT, DPT
Research Therapist
Ryan Brutger, PT, DPT
Research Therapist
Caitlin Klukas, MS, CCC-SLP
Research Therapist

2023 Publications

2017-2022 Publications

CKRC Newsletters
2023 Winter Newsletter
2023 Fall Newsletter
2023 Spring Newsletter


Rehabilitation Resources & Partnering with CKRC

Courage Kenny Research Center frequently collaborates with internal and external partners on research projects. Additionally, researchers and clinicians from the Courage Kenny Research Center will occasionally make participant materials and administration guides from completed studies available for internal and external use.

If you wish to learn more about available resources or partner with Courage Kenny Research Center, please contact