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The Veterans Disability and Rehabilitation Research Channel – meet our new Channel Editor Alicia Koontz

The Veterans Disability and Rehabilitation Research Channel is delighted to welcome Alicia Koontz as a Channel Editor!

The Veterans Disability and Rehabilitation Research Channel features articles on a wide range of topics relevant to veteran disability and rehabilitation research. The Channel Editors aim to showcase the most up to date research to assist veterans and all adults around the world with chronic illness and disability. Joining Channel Editors Mary Elizabeth Bowen , Yih-Kuen Jan and Noam Harel, Alicia will bring her expertise in  rehabilitation biomechanics, assistive technology, and secondary injury prevention to the Channel.

Meet Our New Channel Editor

I am excited to start my new role at the PLOS Veterans Disability & Rehabilitation Research Channel. The Channel is a great place for Veterans and the general public to learn about current trends and exciting new research and developments.

I received my BS and MS degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Wright State University and my PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh.  I am the Associate Director of Research and Research Biomedical Engineer at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) which houses a VA Rehabilitation R&D Center on Wheelchairs and Assistive Robotics Engineering and a University of Pittsburgh research facility.  I am also a full Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  My research at the HERL is aimed towards improving the health, function, and quality of life of individuals who rely on wheelchairs as a primary means of mobility. I have a successful track-record of scientific discovery in the areas of upper limb biomechanics, the development of clinical assessment tools and training approaches for prevention of upper limb injury, and assistive technology product development, evaluation, and research to inform clinical practice.  I have also more recently worked on developing smart coaching applications to help improve upper extremity function and mobility related outcomes among Veteran wheelchair users and novel exercise programs and technology.

I regularly attend Veteran-centric sports and recreational events including the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and the National Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.  These experiences help keep me informed on Veterans’ current needs and interests in research.


Channel Update Highlight: Editor’s Pick

In our most recent Channel update, Alicia’s “Editor’s Pick” highlights recent work from Dr Vachon-Presseau (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) and colleagues entitled “Identification of traits and functional connectivity-based neurotraits of chronic pain” published in PLOS Biology

Fig 1. Psychological and personality factors identify four chronic pain traits.

The paper describes a comprehensive approach to identifying factors in each of these domain areas and determined how they are related to each other in a cohort of persons with chronic neuropathic back pain. The authors used a comprehensive battery of questionnaires to find psychological and personality (‘body’) traits that were associated with chronic pain qualities such as daily pain intensities and interference of pain with activities.  Their results substantiate the idea that the chronic pain experience is highly complex and has underpinnings that relate to all three areas (brain, body and society).


Find more content like this and keep up to date on the latest veteran disability & rehabilitation research by following the Veterans Disability & Rehabilitation Research Channel. You can also send any questions or content recommendations to or tweet us @PLOSChannels using the hashtag #PLOSVeterans. The PLOS Channels Team would also like to thank Lisa Brenner for her tenure as Channel Editor.


The Veterans Disability and Rehabilitation Research Channel was developed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service as a new home for the community previously served by the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD).




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