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Kennedy Secures $1.2M in Funding for Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology

By April 24, 2024Press Release

New York State Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) secured $1.2 million in grant funding for Daemen University’s Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology (IMIT) at Villa Maria College. The state-of-the-art facility will launch in collaboration with Villa Maria and Buffalo Rehab Group – offering access to leading robotic devices and assistive technology to restore motion and function following a range of injuries and illnesses.

Senator Kennedy’s Community Resiliency, Economic Sustainability, and Technology Program (CREST) funding will be used to construct and renovate the facility at Villa. Daemen has raised an additional $1.75 million for specialty equipment and staff positions for the IMIT. The location on the East Side of Buffalo aims to address the pressing needs of underserved populations in the community.

“When Daemen, Villa, and Buffalo Rehab Group came to my office and laid out their plans for the Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology, and what it would become not only for the students they serve but for the greater Western New York population in need of post-acute rehabilitation services, I knew we had to make it happen,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, who is also an occupational therapist. “We know that post-acute care is critical to boosting cognitive function, reducing pain, and reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Through the IMIT, we’re not just investing in physical health outcomes, we’re investing in the mental health, autonomy, and independence of people. I’m proud to help advance this project, and I applaud Daemen, Villa, and Buffalo Rehab Group for weaving IMIT into student experiences that will inevitably instill an even stronger sense of compassion and a new perspective on critical thinking and problem-solving.”

The comprehensive facility will utilize advanced technology in a physical therapy-based clinic to provide treatment of spinal cord injuries, strokes, MS, and Parkinson’s disease, as well as sports injuries, orthopedics, and other conditions.

At its core, IMIT is built on four interconnected components: clinical care, advocacy, research, and education. Through this CARE Model, the IMIT will be woven into the undergraduate and graduate educational experience at Daemen. Similarly, Villa Maria will integrate the IMIT into its academic programs and curriculum. For Buffalo Rehab Group, the agreement with the two institutions will allow the practice to provide new patient services.

“The Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology is dedicated to empowering movement, restoring strength, and maximizing wellness,” said Dr. Gary Olson, the president of Daemen University. “The IMIT represents not just the culmination of years of hard work and dedication but also the realization of a shared vision with Villa Maria College and Buffalo Rehab Group to provide exceptional care and support to adults and children needing advanced and specialized rehabilitation.”

“Villa Maria College remains committed to serving the Western New York Community – especially our neighbors on Buffalo’s East Side,” said Dr. Matthew Giordano, the president of Villa Maria College. “We are thrilled to work with Buffalo Rehab Group, Daemen University, and Senator Kennedy’s Office to bring the Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology to life on our growing campus. The IMIT is filling a major need by making advanced healthcare more accessible, particularly to a traditionally underserved population. Its creation aligns with our mission and core values and further demonstrates our deep dedication to creating a better, more equitable Buffalo.”

“Members of our community with physical limitations due to neurotraumatic or neurodegenerative conditions deserve world-class medical rehabilitation,” said Jeff Woodrich, the president and CEO of Buffalo Rehab Group. “They need access to a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technologies and guided by specialized, caring, and passionate Physical and Occupational Therapy team members. Buffalo Rehab Group is honored to be part of the collaborative efforts with Daemen University and Villa Maria College in making this a reality.”

Throughout the planning of the IMIT, Daemen has conducted extensive community outreach including the establishment of an advisory board including patients with lived experience, advocates, and representatives from ECMC, Kaleida Health, Catholic Health, and Jericho Road Community Health Center.