Dr. Boukrina of Kessler Foundation Awarded Major American Heart Association Grant

Three-year grant for $231,000 funds a multi-center study of right-brain stroke and the neural mechanisms of delirium and spatial neglect

July 27, 2017 – East Hanover, NJ – Olga Boukrina, PhD, research scientist in Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, has received a three-year award from the American Heart Association (AHA) valued at $231,000. The grant funds a study exploring a potential neural mechanism that could explain the high incidence of delirium and spatial neglect after right-hemisphere stroke. Stroke, which affects 17% of the US population 65 and over, makes individuals particularly vulnerable to developing delirium and/or spatial neglect, with up to 50% incidence for one or both disorders after right-brain stroke.

“We know that individuals with right-brain stroke and spatial neglect are particularly susceptible to developing delirium,” said Olga Boukrina, PhD. “This suggests that the neural mechanisms linked to spatial neglect – arousal, attention, and spatial orientation – may also play a crucial part in post-stroke delirium. This AHA award enables me to further cultivate and test the efficacy of novel attentional-behavioral therapies and potential diagnostic tools and treatments.”

This study will relate behavioral data and functional magnetic resonance imaging in individuals with right-brain stroke to look for associations between the impaired activity and the structural integrity of the brain systems for arousal, attention, and spatial orientation. The findings of this study may help reduce hospital morbidity and loss of independence by providing a critical biomarker and behavioral profile for delirium and spatial neglect after right-hemisphere stroke.

About Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation:

Research studies span all domains of post-stroke dysfunction, including cognitive deficits and mobility impairment. Under the direction of A.M. Barrett, MD, stroke scientists also mentor students, resident physicians, and post-doctoral trainees in translational neuroscience of rehabilitation. Cognitive research emphasizes hidden disabilities after stroke, including disabilities of functional vision (spatial bias and spatial neglect) and reading deficits. Mobility research, in partnership with Human Performance & Engineering Research, centers on the application of robotic exoskeletons for stroke rehabilitation. Stroke research receives funding from the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, Department of Defense; the National Institutes of Health/NICHD/NCMRR; New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, Kessler Foundation; the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey; and the Wallerstein Foundation for Geriatric Improvement. 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 employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

For more information on Kessler Foundation's research, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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Contacts:

Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org 

Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675; LViglione@KesslerFoundation.org