News Release

Kessler Foundation awarded COVID crisis funding for Spinal Cord Injury Program

Emergency funding provided by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation enables the continuation of Kessler inpatient spinal cord injury education series in accordance with COVID-19 health guidelines

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

Jeanne Zanca, PhD, MPT, FACRM

image: Dr. Zanca is senior research scientist in the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation, and an investigator with the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury Model System. view more 

Credit: Kessler Foundation

EAST HANOVER, N.J. - December 7, 2020. Kessler Foundation received a $10,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation's crisis funding to support the spinal cord injury (SCI) community and critical research amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This Neilsen Emergency Support Grant funded the purchase of iPad Minis and accessories to facilitate ongoing SCI education for inpatients undergoing rehabilitation at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and their families.

People with SCI who are coping with new injuries benefit from the support and encouragement of others who are struggling with the same profound life changes. Presented by clinicians and SCI peers affiliated with Kessler Institute and Kessler Foundation, the SCI Lunch and Learn Education Program helps individuals with SCI and caregivers to navigate the inevitable challenges that arise as they transition to the community. "Individuals who receive this kind of support are better equipped to manage their new situation," explained Jeanne Zanca, PhD, MPT, senior research scientist in the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research and a contributor to the program. "They may experience fewer complications and hospitalizations, and participate more fully in their communities and the workplace."

The measures necessary to keep high risk patients safe, however, have radically altered the delivery of inpatient rehabilitation care and activities that once took place in a group setting. "We are pleased to be among the grantees to receive emergency funding," said Dr. Zanca. "The Neilsen Foundation recognizes the pressing need to maintain programs that support individuals recovering from spinal cord injury. With these iPads, we can deliver the education series in real-time to patients in their rooms, enabling group interaction despite the need for physical distancing," she continued. "This virtual education format facilitates the participation of family members in the class series, providing the additional support they need as they prepare for discharge."

Funding: Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Emergency Support Grant


About the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is the largest private funder of spinal cord injury research, rehabilitation, clinical training, and programmatic support in the United States and Canada. . The Foundation partners with scientific, charitable and educational organizations conducting spinal cord injury research, training in spinal cord medicine, and supports grassroots organizations providing services to assist individuals affected by spinal cord injury. Drawing ongoing inspiration from its founder, the Foundation is dedicated to a future where individuals with spinal cord injuries live full and productive lives as active participants in their communities.

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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Contacts: Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382;

Ongoing studies in spinal cord injury research at Kessler Foundation:

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