Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS is an occupational therapist with a specialty in assistive technology. She has developed an Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) to serve Frazier Rehab and Neuroscience Institute. This program supports the translational research goals of the Frazier Spinal Cord Medicine and the Neuroscience Collaborative Center within the Department of Neurological Surgery. The ATRC provides evidence based evaluation and treatment for individuals needing wheelchairs and specialized seating, alternative, augmentative communication and adaptive computer access and control of the environment. In this role she is also directing the clinical aspects of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology graduate certificate within the Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.
Dr. Buning has a strong interest in information technology and during her doctoral work developed WheelchairNet, a virtual community on wheeled mobility. She investigated the use of WheelchairNet as a decision-making support tool when individuals are preparing for new wheelchairs. She is an experienced educator and presenter and has a strong commitment to the use of the Internet and telecommunications to improve practice, conduct survey research, and disseminate research findings. She is particularly interested in wheelchair transportation safety for those who must sit in wheelchairs during motor vehicle travel. Her current research is a national study on the impact of WC19-compliant wheelchairs on the safety of students riding in school buses.
She is an active leader within RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America and is credentialed as an Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP) and a Seating & Mobility Specialist (SMS). She is also active in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Technology Special Interest Section. She holds a master's degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Colorado, and a PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Pittsburgh.