Sheila Clemens

Project Title: Examining racial/ethnic disparities in functional outcomes of people with dysvascular lower limb amputation and the effect of socioenvironmental factors

Lower limb amputation (LLA) is one of the costliest, most debilitating and potentially preventable conditions affecting Americans. With over a million people living with LLA, evidence suggests that amputation disproportionately affects minorities and individuals of lower socioeconomic status, likely because complications related to type-II diabetes mellitus and peripheral vascular disease are more prevalent in these populations. This is particularly concerning as there is a resurgence in dysvascular related LLA, specifically in young (18-44 years old) and middle-aged (45-64 years old) populations. People in these age groups are still of viable working age, but return to work after LLA is difficult, and research has shown minorities and individuals of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to return to jobs after amputation than their white and higher socioeconomic level counterparts. Yet, no research to date has examined racial and socioenvironmental variables that could affect physical functioning after LLA. It is unknown how someone’s built and natural environment and sociocultural disposition can affect how they utilize a lower limb prosthesis. The purpose of this study is to investigate if disparities exist in prosthetic mobility in community-dwelling Hispanics and blacks compared to non-Hispanic whites and examine what contextual personal and environmental factors may contribute to these disparities. Methods will include self-report questionnaires, administered in both English and Spanish, as well as tests of walking and performance of functional tasks. This data will help guide the development of a screening tool for use in identifying individuals at risk for mobility difficulties after amputation.

Research Interests

Outcome measures, prosthetic rehabilitation, health disparities, gait biomechanics

Assistant Professor
Department of Physical Therapy

Sheila Clemens is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and a Research Health Scientist at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center in Miami, FL. A long-time clinician, she decided to advance her specialty in amputation rehabilitation through attaining her PhD in 2017. She has worked at FIU since 2018 and is the lead instructor of the Clinical Biomechanics and Advanced Pathological Analysis courses in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Her current research interests are in examining prosthetic mobility outcomes, specifically functional tasks like turning around objects, that involve greater motor planning and control. Additionally, she investigates the biomechanics occurring during gait and functional tasks of someone who wears a lower limb prosthesis for mobility. Her long-standing interest in health inequities feeds her desire to pursue research in the area of health disparities in people living with lower limb amputation, as it is an understudied area of prosthetic rehabilitation. Dr. Clemens’ primary research objective is to improve the care and functioning of people living with lower limb amputation.

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