Dedicated to SCI Care and Research

Improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries depends on the efforts of a team of professionals who have dedicated their careers to care and research. 

Photo of Nathan Hogaboom against a black background

Meet Nathan Hogaboom, PhD, post-doctoral fellow in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Research and Outcomes & Assessment Research. Dr. Hogaboom, Kessler’s first fellow in regenerative rehabilitation, focuses his research on shoulder pain and pathology in people with SCI. He works closely with Dr. Trevor Dyson-Hudson, director of SCI Research at Kessler Foundation, and Dr. Gerard Malanga, director of the New Jersey Regenerative Institute and physiatrist at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, to study new interventions for shoulder dysfunction, and new ways of measuring changes to the body as it heals.  

“Shoulder problems are a common cause of pain and disability among manual wheelchair users,” noted Dr. Hogaboom. “Treatment options include surgery, which carries a higher risk of side effects in this population, and requires prolonged recovery time. It’s important to look for alternatives to surgery that can restore function, relieve pain, and allow individuals to fully participate in activities at home and in the community. Regenerative medicine is one avenue that is being explored.”

The team is currently testing a new procedure in wheelchair users with SCI, who despite medication and therapy, have persistent shoulder pain. The procedure entails harvesting, processing and injecting a sample of the person’s own fat (micro-fragmented autologous adipose tissue) into the shoulder joint under ultrasound guidance. The fat contains cells and compounds with healing properties, which cushions damaged tissues and fills structural defects in the joint. “Preliminary results of this pilot study are promising,” said Dr. Hogaboom. “So far, we have followed individuals for 12 months after a single injection, and have seen improvement in pain and function. However, we need to follow them for several years to see if these improvements are sustained.” 

Dr. Hogaboom received his PhD in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. His doctoral work focused on the association between wheelchair use and ultrasound and biochemical markers for shoulder pain and rotator cuff tendinopathy. His fellowship at Kessler is funded by a grant from the Derfner Foundation.

Podcast featuring Nathan Hogaboom: 


Photo of Adria De Simone

Meet Adria De Simone, MS, CRC, LAC, CWIC, SCI vocational resource facilitator at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation. Adria is a key staff member in Kessler’s Resource Facilitation Program, a pilot study funded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. The program aims to help individuals with SCI return to work or school after injury through a comprehensive system of targeted care and career counseling. 

De Simone graduated from the University of Scranton with an undergraduate degree in Counseling and Human Services, then went on to earn a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.  She began working for Kessler Institute in 2016 as a Certified Rehabilitation Counseling Specialist in the Cognitive Rehabilitation Program. In 2018, De Simone took on her current role as Kessler’s SCI Vocational Resource Facilitator. 

De Simone connects with individuals during their inpatient stay. First, she meets with the clinical team to discuss post-rehabilitation plans and potential obstacles to successful life in the community. Then, in a one-on-one counseling session, De Simone introduces the idea of returning to work. Working with the person with SCI, their family or caregiver, and the Kessler interdisciplinary team, De Simone develops a comprehensive network of medical, state, and community support services to help the person with SCI return to work when ready.   

“I am in a unique position where I am able to learn about a person’s employment goals, and gather the information from their clinical team necessary to quickly connect the patient to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services,” says De Simone, who functions as a liaison between that person and the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS). “DVRS funds a variety of medical and vocation-related services, including counseling, to help people with disabilities find and maintain employment,” she explained. “Sometimes the idea of work for a patient is down the road. That’s why we aim to plant the seed early on in the inpatient setting. When the right time comes, we can then work together to water the seed and watch it grow. Connecting the person with SCI with a DVR counselor at this stage helps to establish some expectations, and when they’re ready, they are already linked to support services that will help them achieve their goals in the workplace and at home.” 

Podcast featuring Adria De Simone: