News Release

Kessler Foundation receives major funding from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to advance research in spinal cord injury and fellowship education

Scientists will apply the $1.266 million in grants to experimental studies in epidural stimulation and shockwave therapy for spasticity, and the Foundation’s long-standing fellowship training program

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

Craig H. Neilsen Foundation

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East Hanover, NJ. September 7, 2022. Kessler Foundation scientists received three spinal cord injury research grants totaling $1.266 million from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. Grants were awarded to Gail Forrest, PhD, Nathan Hogaboom, PhD, and Steven Kirshblum, MD.  

Dr. Gail Forrest, director of the Tim and Caroline Reynolds Center for Spinal Stimulation and associate director of the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research received $800,000 in funding for her ongoing study titled, “Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation: Addressing Spasticity and Motor Function.”

The study aims to expand the capacity of neuromodulation to address the debilitating effects of severe spasticity in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) and improve motor function using surgically implantable epidural stimulation. Recently developed technology (Stim X Release 1) will track neuromodulation, activity-based restorative therapy sessions and self-reported outcomes in real-time in the home and community. Long term, this study will provide a framework to develop clinically viable approaches and tools that will enable rehabilitation centers to provide optimized care for people with chronic spinal cord injury. The study will be conducted at two sites: the Reynolds Center for Spinal Stimulation, Kessler Foundation, and Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, University of Louisville.

Dr. Nathan Hogaboom received $230,000 in funding for his study, “Effect of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy on Spasticity in Chronic SCI: A Pilot Study.” Dr. Hogaboom, a research scientist in the Centers for Spinal Cord Injury Research and Outcomes and Assessment Research and the co-director of the Foundation’s Derfner-Lieberman Laboratory for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research, is working on a long-term treatment for spasticity, which is a prevalent complication for people with SCI. The treatments that are effective are often pharmacological in nature and have side effects that could limit function or affect health. This randomized-controlled study will investigate the potential efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shockwave therapy, a non-invasive treatment with few side effects, as an alternative means to control spasticity and avoid the common side effects of current drug treatments.

Dr. Steven Kirshblum received $236,000 in funding to continue the SCI Medicine Fellowship Program (as director) along with co-director Jeremiah D. Nieves, MD, of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Dr. Kirshblum, chief medical officer for Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute,  is also co-director of the Foundation’s Reynolds Center for Spinal Stimulation and Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research. Under the leadership of Drs. Kirshblum and Nieves as well as many mentors, the fellowship program – approved for accreditation since 1996 – has trained approximately 50 professionals who have become specialists in spinal cord injury across the U.S. and Canada. Rutgers - New Jersey Medical School offers the program through its Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, headed by Dr. Kirshblum. The majority of the clinical training occurs at Kessler Institute with research training and activity through Kessler Foundation.

Funding: Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, 882314; Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation, 889694; SCI Medicine Fellowship, 718750-2022.

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, and draws ongoing inspiration from its founder. 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. The Foundation is dedicated to a future where individuals with spinal cord injuries live full and productive lives as active participants in their communities. 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 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

For information, contact:
Deb Hauss, senior staff writer, 973.324.8372,
Carolann Murphy, senior medical writer,

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