West Orange, NJ. January 2, 2014. Kessler Foundation is conducting a 3-year research study to improve the health and quality of life of military personnel and civilians with spinal cord injury (SCI). The study, 'Systematic Assessment of Caregiving Skill Performance by Individuals with Tetraplegia and their Caregivers', is funded by a $590,540 grant from a special program in the Department of Defense (W81XWH-12-1-0553).
Jeanne M. Zanca, PhD, MPT, senior research scientist in SCI Research at Kessler Foundation, is the study's principal investigator. Dr. Zanca leads a team of investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Shepherd Center, and the East Orange Campus of the VA New Jersey Healthcare System. The goal is to develop an assessment tool that evaluates the ability of individuals with tetraplegia to direct their care and the ability of their caregivers to properly perform care tasks. The tool will help therapists identify and improve the skills for self-directed care so that individuals can successfully transition to home and community.
"People with tetraplegia often have loss of movement in their hands and arms, which makes it difficult for them to do things for themselves," Dr. Zanca explained. "If they can't effectively communicate to others how to assist them, then they are forced to rely on specially trained personnel, such as nurses. Because specialized care can be too costly to receive at home, they may have to live in nursing homes. However, if we teach people with tetraplegia to direct others to serve as their 'hands,' they can get help from just about anyone. This increases their sense of control over their daily activities and makes it more likely that they can receive the help they need at home and in the community." The study will create a meaningful assessment tool by using feedback from persons with tetraplegia, their caregivers, and SCI clinicians to identify appropriate content for the tool. The assessment tool will be tested in inpatient rehabilitation to determine how it should be modified to maximize its usefulness.
About SCI Research at Kessler Foundation
The Foundation's SCI Research Laboratory is one of the most active SCI laboratories in the country. Under the leadership of Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, and Steven Kirshblum, MD, scientists in SCI Research conduct investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored site-specific and multi-center studies and clinical trials. The Northern New Jersey SCI System (NNJSCIS), one of 14 model systems in the nation, provides a continuum of care and research aimed at improving the lives of people with SCI. Research funding sources include the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research (NNJSCIS), the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the New Jersey Commission for SCI Research, and Kessler Foundation.
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 KesslerFoundation.org.