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Kessler Foundation's Krch awarded $600,000 NIDRR grant for virtual reality study in TBI

Denise Krch, Ph.D., of Kessler Foundation was awarded a NIDRR Field-Initiated Grant titled The development of a virtual reality program to improve executive functioning in individuals with traumatic brain injury

Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ. September 30, 2013. Denise Krch, PhD, of Kessler Foundation was awarded a NIDRR Field-Initiated Grant (#H133G130189) titled, "The development of a virtual reality program to improve executive functioning in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI)." This three-year grant is valued at $600,000. Dr. Krch is a research scientist in TBI Research at Kessler Foundation. She is also an assistant professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

This project is the product of pilot work conducted in collaboration with the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (USC-ICT). Kessler Foundation and USC-ICT have a long-standing collaborative relationship in applying virtual reality technology to cognitive and motor rehabilitation research. This funded study will extend Kessler Foundation's collaboration with USC-ICT by developing an innovative, virtual reality-based intervention that treats impairments in executive function," said Dr. Krch, "specifically targeting problem solving, mental flexibility, and divided attention. Virtual reality technology allows for the creation of a treatment environment with realistic spatial scenarios that closely mimic real-life, increasing the intervention's ability to motivate and be relevant to real-life function. With limited interventions available that address the remediation of executive dysfunction, the development of a rehabilitation tool to restore these deficits has the potential to positively impact the field of cognitive rehabilitation."

This grant enables our scientists to design and develop a virtual reality-based intervention that targets problem solving, mental flexibility, and divided attention, and to pilot test the completed prototype in a small sample of individuals with TBI who have moderate to severe impairment in executive function.

"Impairment of executive function is a cause of disability after TBI that is often overlooked. Treatment of such deficits will contribute to improved outcomes for individuals with TBI," said Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director TBI Research at Kessler Foundation. "The results of this trial will form the basis for larger randomized controlled trials in the future."


Funded by NIDRR grant #H133G130189.

About TBI Research at Kessler Foundation

Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, is director of TBI Research and Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research. Kessler Foundation is one of 16 federally funded model systems that form a national comprehensive system of care, research, education and dissemination aimed at improving quality of life for people with TBI. The Northern New Jersey TBI System (NNJTBIS), a collaborative effort of Kessler Foundation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, is supported by grant #H133A120030 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Dept of Education. Drs. John DeLuca and Nancy Chiaravalloti are project directors of the NNJTBIS. In addition to NIDRR and NIH, research is also funded by the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research. Drs. Chiaravalloti, DeLuca and Krch 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 opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit


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