Dr. Barbara A. Rider, professor emerita, came to Western Michigan University in 1976 as chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy and held that position for 10 years. Prior to joining WMU, Rider was on the faculty in the occupational therapy department at the University of Kansas. Earlier in her career, she served as director of occupational therapy at the Veterans Administration Hospital and Kapper Foundation for Crippled Children in Topeka, Kansas.
Rider has been an active researcher, teacher and consultant for more than 47 years. She was a pioneer in researching developmental reflexes and her work is frequently cited in the literature. Another area of research evolved when Rider noticed that airline peanut bags were difficult for elderly and people with disabilities to open. Her packaging study received national attention and helped reform packaging standards.
Rider won the Lindy Boggs award in 2003. The award is a national honor, bestowed once each year by the American Occupational Therapy Association and recognizes winner's lifetime achievement in effecting political change in matters important to the profession of occupational therapy.
Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, Rider received her bachelor's degree in occupational therapy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She received a master's degree in special education from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan in educational administration.
Since her retirement in 1991, Rider has continued to publish, consult, and work in nursing homes and home health care.
Rider is a visionary and national and international advocate for the profession of occupational therapy.