News Release

Dr. Boukrina of Kessler Foundation receives $2.1 million federal grant for post-stroke aphasia research

National Institutes of Health funds investigation for improving reading competence by combining aerobic exercise and phono-motor treatment

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ – April 8, 2024 – Olga Boukrina, PhD, senior research scientist in the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, has received a major research grant from the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. The grant funds Dr. Boukrina’s study titled, “Improving Reading Competence in Aphasia with Combined Aerobic Exercise and Phono-Motor Treatment.”   

“Our research proposes to test the effectiveness of a novel hybrid approach to the treatment of reading disorders after stroke, in which aerobic exercise training is combined with a targeted reading treatment. This approach is expected to enhance brain blood flow and help rehabilitate the damaged brain networks supporting reading,” explained Dr. Boukrina. “Our study will test this approach with 70 stroke survivors, comparing the effects of exercise versus light stretching before intensive reading therapy,” she said.

Nearly 2.5 million Americans live with post-stroke aphasia, a serious condition that impairs their ability to communicate and read text. “There's a critical need for new treatments that can enhance the reading and language improvements seen with conventional approaches,” said Dr. Boukrina. Post-stroke aphasia not only hinders individuals' ability to return to work, but also diminishes their overall independence.

“We anticipate that exercise will not only immediately improve cerebral blood flow but also lead to lasting benefits, potentially transforming treatment for stroke survivors with aphasia and advancing our understanding of brain recovery,” concluded Dr. Boukrina.

Funding: National Institutes of Health Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders grant #1R01DC021063-01A1.

About National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
The NIDCD’s mission is to improve the lives of the millions of people with hearing loss and other communication disorders, spanning functions of hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. Over the past 30 years, researchers supported by the NIDCD have made seminal advances in understanding the basic biology of sensory systems and disease mechanisms, leading to increasingly effective, evidence-based treatments for diseases and disorders that affect an ever-growing segment of the population. For more information, visit

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research. Our scientists seek to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for adults and children with neurological and developmental disabilities of the brain and spinal cord including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and autism. Kessler Foundation also leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

For information, contact:
Deb Hauss, senior staff writer,
Carolann Murphy, senior medical writer,

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