Nursing student receives Hartford Foundation award for study on aging with childhood onset disabilities

AUSTIN, Texas—A University of Texas at Austin nursing doctoral candidate has received a $50,000 award from the John A. Hartford Foundation for a study focusing on how women who had paralytic polio before age 12 are now aging.

Tracie Harrison, a graduate research assistant in the School of Nursing, is one of 20 new nurse scholars to receive Hartford Foundation support for studies in geriatric nursing. The scholars were chosen through a national competition as part of the foundation’s initiative aimed at building academic geriatric nursing capacity. 

The foundation has invested more than $5.6 million in scholarships for nurses through its Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar Program.

“I want to study the meaning of aging for women with childhood onset disability—an impairment before age 12 that continues throughout the life course,” said Harrison, who will interview women who had polio as a child and are now between the ages of 55 to 65.

The study is significant, she said, because people with disabilities are now living longer because of technological medical advancements and social changes.

“Those, who were infected with polio during the 1950s epidemic, are a perfect example of people aging with disability,” Harrison said. “However, the medical community may not be prepared to care for this group because their experiences with aging are less well known. We do know they have a higher rate of co-morbidities such as hypertension and asthma than the general aging population.”

For more information contact: Nancy Neff, 512-471-6504.