Honorable Margaret Joan Giannini, MD, FAAP
Born: May 27, 1921 - Camden, NJ
Entry into the AT Field: 1979
How I got into the field
I first started working in the rehabilitative engineering and assistive technology field when I became the first Director of the National Institute of Disability Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). My professional background is I am a physician who has dedicated my entire professional life to disabilities.
Important event(s) that influenced my early decision to get into the assistive technology field
My decision was made because when I began in this field it was at the brim of the explosion of technology transfer and I realized that it had a major role in the lives of persons with disabilities.
Why I chose the AT field
As indicated in the above answers.
My inspiration and mentor
I really didn't have any.
Why the field is important to me and the central focus of my work
It is important because it is the way of the future in many ways to manage persons with disabilities.
My memorable successes and greatest contributions to the field
The creation of the Seattle Foot (an energy storage foot for amputees). The in-depth research on Functional Electrical Stimulation for paraplegics to walk and use their upper limbs The creation of the FES Center in the VA Cleveland Medical Center. The creation of the VA Medical Center in Seattle on CAD/CAM. Innovative research for sports equipment for persons with disabilities, and many others.
My most memorable failures
Hopefully, I didn't have any.
Significant changes and advances in the field since I first entered it
The most significant change was to raise awareness among researchers, service providers and training programmers that rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology are an integral part in the entire area of disabilities.
The most important advances in the field have been how rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology have become integrated across all disabilities across the lifespan.
On the future of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology
I have a very optimistic view of the future of rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology in its forthcoming innovative research and the translation of this research into clinical practice. It can only go in one direction and that is to expand its applications and how it can be brought to the marketplace for persons with disabilities.
My role within RESNA and what it gave back to me
I was largely responsible for the creation of RESNA as a founder and gave the initial financial support when I was the Deputy Assistant Chief Medical Director of Disabilities in the VA so that RESNA could be created.
On the future of RESNA
Onward and upward!
My suggestions for those just entering the field
I would encourage young researchers, providers, and educators in rehabilitative engineering and assistive technology to become committed and passionate about what they are doing and only outstanding outcomes can result.