West Orange, NJ. December 3, 2012. Through rehabilitation research and training, Kessler Foundation collaborates with partners here and abroad to further this year's focus of the UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities – to remove barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.
"Our collaborative rehabilitation research with partners in Europe and Asia is improving rehabilitation interventions for people with stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and brain injury," said Rodger DeRose, president and CEO of Kessler Foundation. "Research at the Foundation encompasses outcomes and patient-oriented research studies that address fundamental public health issues of health disparities, community factors, cultural factors and disability prevention." With the help of generous grants, Kessler Foundation also provides postgraduate training for scientists from around the world, extending the influence of its rehabilitation research in cognition and mobility. Recent fellows have come from India, China, Italy, Russia, Croatia, and Belarus.
Foundation researchers work with scientists in China, where large numbers of people with disabilities are spread across vast areas in China, complicating access to needed rehabilitative care, according to John DeLuca, PhD, VP of Research & Training. "This new collaboration will help China develop the capability to remotely deliver effective rehabilitation based on Kessler Foundation's innovative use of technology in cognitive and mobility research," noted Dr. DeLuca. Initial efforts focus on developing a method for delivering cognitive rehabilitation to people with stroke.
In partnership with the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, the Foundation is expanding knowledge of the clinical course of multiple sclerosis. Dr. DeLuca, PhD, is exploring the Santa Lucia Foundation's extensive database of patients with multiple sclerosis, correlating clinical symptoms of multiple sclerosis with changes on functional MRI. Initial findings by Dr. DeLuca and Italian neurologist Ugo Nocentini, MD, were published in NeuroRehabilitation: Neuropsychological, medical and rehabilitative management of persons with multiple sclerosis.
The Network for Spatial Neglect, founded in 2011 under the leadership of research scientist Peii Chen, PhD, and A.M Barrett, MD, director of Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, enlists the help of scientists and clinicians around the world to lessen the impact of hidden disabilities such as spatial neglect on recovery from stroke. These hidden disabilities often hinder the ability of stroke survivors to think, learn, communicate, and navigate through the environment. Often overshadowed by readily recognizable disabilities like paralysis, hidden disabilities represent a significant challenge to recover.
"The influence of Kessler Foundation on the next generation of rehabilitation researchers is evidenced by the success of those who train here," said Dr. DeLuca. In 2011, Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla, PhD, of the University of Deusto in Bilbao, received the prestigious National Association of Neuropsychology's Early Career Award. Dr. Arango-Lasprilla, who was educated in Spain and South America, did his postdoctoral fellowship at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Abhijit Das, a current postdoctoral fellow, led an important analysis of hidden disability in India recently published as a global perspective in Neurology. He was one of five NIDRR-funded fellows to participate on the Young Investigators Panel at the joint ACRM-ASNR conference. "These are just two examples of trainees who have dedicated their careers to removing barriers to inclusivity and accessibility through rehabilitation research," noted Dr. DeLuca.
Kessler Foundation receives grant funding for its research and training programs from federal, state and private agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, National MS Society, National Stroke Association, the Craig Neilsen Foundation, the Healthcare Foundation of NJ, NJ Commission on Brain Injury Research, and the Veterans Administration.
About International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons (December 3) was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a large public charity in the field of disability, conducts rehabilitation research in mobility and cognition that advances the care of people with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke and spinal cord injury. Kessler Foundation is one of eight centers in the U.S. to have NIDRR-funded model systems for both traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury. Kessler Foundation Program Center fosters new approaches to the persistently high rates of unemployment among people disabled by injury or disease. Targeted grant making funds promising programs across the nation.
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