Public Release: 

Kessler Foundation researcher awarded $457,921 grant from National MS Society

Dr. Lauren Strober will update clinical test used to measure processing speed in MS

Kessler Foundation

West Orange, NJ, October 8, 2014 Kessler Foundation's Lauren Strober, PhD, was awarded a grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society totaling $457,921 over three years. Dr Strober will conduct a multi-site study to investigate how updating normative data for the Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) - a standard clinical tool used for assessing processing speed in individuals with MS - can improve its use in clinical settings. Because the updated test, the SDMT-Oral Version, will more accurately assess changes over time, scientists will be better able to predict disease progression and outcomes such as employment, driving and activities of daily living. Dr. Strober is a senior research scientist in Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation. The other study sites are Pennsylvania State University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and University of Washington.

"Decline in processing speed is a common cognitive symptom that has predictive value," said Dr Strober, "which is why accurate assessment of processing speed is important for planning optimal treatment and care for individuals with MS. The traditional version of SDMT has been widely used for measuring disease progression in MS," noted Dr Strober, "but has limitations due to lack of standardization of normative data. The test needs to take into account age, gender, and education. Our study will address these concerns."

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Funded by National MS Society grant HC0185

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National MS Society, NJ Commission of Brain Injury Research, Consortium of MS Centers, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundation, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, iPADs, and virtual reality. Among recent findings are the benefits of cognitive reserve and aerobic exercise; correlation between cognitive performance and outdoor temperatures; efficacy of short-term cognitive rehabilitation using modified story technique; factors related to risk for unemployment, and the correlation between memory improvement and cerebral activation on fMRI. Foundation research scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. The opening of the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation has greatly expanded the Foundation's capability for neuroscience research in MS and other neurological conditions. Foundation scientists have faculty appointments 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 KesslerFoundation.org.

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