Public Release:  Kessler Foundation scientists receive Biogen Idec grant to study actual reality in MS

Drs. DeLuca and Goverover to measure performance of everyday activities in MS using actual reality

Kessler Foundation

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IMAGE: Dr. DeLuca, an international expert in cognitive research in MS and TBI, is senior VP of Research & Training at Kessler Foundation. view more

Credit: Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. April 10, 2014. John DeLuca, PhD, and Yael Goverover, PhD, OT, have received a grant from Biogen Idec to study how persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) perform everyday life tasks. The grant, entitled "The Use of Actual Reality to Measure Everyday Life Functional Activity in Multiple Sclerosis" provides financial support to conduct this research. Dr. DeLuca is senior VP of Research & Training at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Goverover, an associate professor at New York University, is a visiting scientist at Kessler Foundation. She was a NIDRR-funded postdoctoral fellow at Kessler Foundation.

Multiple sclerosis can have dramatic effects on performance of everyday life activities. Despite this, outcome measures in MS have been geared primarily toward assessment of "impairment" and/or self-report instruments of quality of life. This study employs a new and innovative assessment for measuring actual everyday life activities called Actual Reality (AR).

AR is a performance-based assessment approach that involves research participants using the internet to perform three actual everyday life activities: purchasing (1) an airline ticket, (2) cookies; and (3) pizza for a party. "AR is a significant step toward broadening the scope of assessment of performance of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living," noted Dr. DeLuca, "and making assessments more accessible and relevant to persons with MS." The study will focus on the development and the initial establishment of psychometric properties (e.g., reliability) of the AR tasks.

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About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundation and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, iPADs, and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve and aerobic exercise; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; factors related to risk for unemployment, and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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Carolann Murphy, PA; 973.324.8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org

Lauren Scrivo, 973.324.8384/973.768.6583 (cell); LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org

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