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Traumatic Brain Injury


Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation explores the effects of brain injury and tests the effectiveness of rehabilitation treatments to improve quality of life for individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that causes damage to the brain. It is estimated that 1.7 million people in the US sustain a TBI each year. According to the New Jersey Department of Health and  Human Services, approximately 175,000 NJ residents are currently living with disabilities caused by brain injury. TBI is also the signature wound of our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Immediate medical intervention is necessary to prevent further consequences of the injury.

Common effects of a TBI include lack of proper social inhibition and etiquette, deficits in cognition, chronic cognitive fatigue, difficulty formulating strategies and performing numerous tasks, and a lack of motivation to start a task. Directed by Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, Kessler Foundation’s TBI Research examines the social and cognitive—thinking, learning, and memory—problems that result from brain injury. Researchers develop interventions to increase a person’s ability to socialize, perform complex tasks, return to work, and feel like integrated members of society. TBI findings are published in international peer-reviewed medical journals.

Research is funded through private, state and federal agencies. All research studies are non-invasive. Participants are tested through paper and pencil tests, computer assessments, and neuroimaging. Kessler Foundation is a leader of neuroimaging research and examines the structure of the brain, changes over time, and brain activity when performing various thinking tasks. In 2013, studies will utilize the Foundation’s new 3T MRI scanner. Kessler Foundation will be the only organization to have its own in-house imaging center strictly for research purposes. The Foundation is also partnering with the University of Southern California to use virtual reality technology to assess individuals before and after treatment. Learn about active studies and how to participate in TBI research studies. The Foundation conducts additional TBI research in its Neuroscience and Neuropsychology Laboratory, which also studies other neurological disorders.

Kessler Foundation’s TBI Research is known as a center for excellence around the nation. It is the lead site for  the Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (NNJTBIS)—a collaborative effort between Kessler Foundation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center, and Hackensack University Medical Center. Model systems are federally-funded grants through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) that promote collaboration through research to develop a standard of care and identify what issues matter most to individuals with TBI in order to live full and satisfying lives. As a data collection site, Kessler Foundation follows a person from the time of injury throughout their lives. Model systems also evaluate individuals with the disability across all demographic and geographic backgrounds. Kessler Foundation is one of only eight centers in the nation with dual model systems in TBI and spinal cord injury (SCI). Read the latest TBI newsletter, presented by Kessler Foundation and its NNJTBIS collaborators.

Prevention is paramount to decreasing the national impact of TBI. To prevent brain injuries from occurring, Kessler Foundation sponsors the New Jersey chapter of ThinkFirst—an injury prevention program for students grade K-12. In nearly 20 years, more than 250,000 NJ students have learned safety practices to prevent TBI and SCI and the lifelong consequences of the injuries.

Recent News & Research Discoveries for individuals with traumatic brain injury: