News Release

Kessler scientists receive grant to study exercise benefits in multiple sclerosis

Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers awards grant to Drs. John DeLuca and Helen Genova to study the effects of different exercise regimens across multiple realms of symptoms and functioning

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

Helen Genova, PhD

image: Dr. Genova, assistant director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research, studies ways to improve cognitive function in children and adults with neurological illnesses and injuries, including brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and autism. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ. October 7, 2019. With a grant from the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, John DeLuca, PhD, Helen Genova, PhD, of Kessler Foundation, will study the effects of different exercise regimens across multiple realms of symptoms and functioning in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. DeLuca is senior vice president for Research and Training and Dr. Genova is assistant director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research. Rosalia Dacosta Aguayo, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center, will assist with the pilot study.

Individuals with MS experience a range of disabling symptoms, which can be cognitive, physical and emotional in nature. Recent research suggests that physical activity may significantly benefit individuals with MS and lessen their symptoms. Despite this research, many individuals with MS are hesitant to exercise for various reasons, including heat sensitivity, weakness and spasticity.

Different types of exercise can offer differential benefits for those with MS, but few studies have been conducted in this area. According to Dr. Genova, this study will look at the effects of types of exercise (such as aquatic exercise or stretching) on the full range of MS-related symptoms, and evaluate the functional consequences.

"We will measure the effects of exercise on cognition, fatigue, physical functioning, and overall wellness and quality of life," said Dr. Genova. "Finding benefits across these multiple realms would focus attention on exercise regimens as low-risk noninvasive interventions that may improve the lives of individuals with MS."


Learn about ongoing MS research at Kessler Foundation at:

Interested in more information? Email our recruitment specialist at

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, National MS Society, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundations, the International Progressive MS Alliance, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of the Centers for Neuropsychology, Neuroscience and Traumatic Brain Injury Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS and developed new treatments. Collaborations with the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research have resulted in new lines of research aimed at improving both cognitive and motor functions. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing, employment, cognitive fatigue, mobility, and the interrelatedness of cognitive and physical deficits. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, mobile imaging technologies, robotics, eye-tracking, virtual reality, and other technologies. Scientists conduct neuroimaging studies at the research-dedicated Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation. Kessler researchers and clinicians have faculty appointments in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 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 employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

For more information on Kessler Foundation's research, visit

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Carolann Murphy, PA
Senior Staff Writer

Rob Gerth
Director, Communications

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