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Mary Ellen Buning, Ph.D.

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Mary Ellen Buning, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP/SMS

Assistant Professor,

Department of Neurological Surgery


Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS is an occupational therapist with specialty in assistive technology. In 2008, she left the U of Colorado Denver to accept a faculty position at the U of Louisville. 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 U of Louisville.

Dr. Buning earned her PhD in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She 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). She is also active in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Technology Special Interest Section.

Peer viewed publications:

Buning, M.E., Getchell, C.A., Bertocci, G.E. & Fitzgerald, S.G. (2007). Riding a bus while seated in a wheelchair: A pilot study of attitudes and behavior regarding safety practices. Assistive Technology. 19(2) 38-52.
Karg P, Buning M.; Bertocci, G.; Fuhrman, S.; Hobson, D.; Manary, M.; Schneider, L. & van Roosmalen, L. (2009). State of the Science Workshop on Wheelchair Transportation Safety. Assistive Technology, 21(3), 115-60. 
Buning, M.E.; Bertocci, G.E, Brown, D.; Johnson, S.; Karg, P.E.; Manary, M; Schneider, L.W. (available online 28 Mar 2012). RESNA position paper: Wheelchairs used as seats in motor vehicles. Assistive Technology. DOI: 10.1080/10400435.2012.659328
Buning, M.E. & Karg, P.E. (2011). School bus transportation for students seated in wheelchairs. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine. 4(4) 259-268. DOI: 10.1080/10400435.2012.659328
Buning, M.E. & Karg, P.E. (2011). Wheelchair Transportation Safety on School Buses: Stakeholder Recommendations for Priority Issues and Actions. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine.  4(4) 269-278. DOI: 10.3233/PRM-2011-0180.


Bauer, S.M. & Buning, M.E. (Eds.) (2009). Industry profile on wheeled mobility. Buffalo: RERC on Technology Transfer: State University of New York at Buffalo.
Bertocci, GE & Buning, M.E. (2009). Chapter 5: Wheelchair Transportation Safety. In S. Bauer & ME Buning Eds., p121- 151 Buffalo: RERC on Technology Transfer: State University of New York at Buffalo.
Buning, M.E. (in review). Chapter 18: Technology for Remediation and Compensation of Disability. In C. Trombly & M. Radomsky (Eds.) Occupational Therapy for Physical Dysfunction, 7th Edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.


Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP/SMS
University of Louisville, School of Medicine
Department of Neurological Surgery

Director, Assistive Technology Resource Center
Frazier Rehab & Neuroscience Institute
220 Abraham Flexner Way, Rm 1156
Louisville, KY 40202
W: 502.407.3272
F: 502.582.7488

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