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Enhanced Rehabilitation Programs Help Brain Injury Patients Improve Mobility

Expanded programs include aquatic therapy, adaptive yoga, and safety coaching

By Mary-Kate Matozzo, PT, DPT, at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton, Brain Injury Program

The Marlton, NJ, campus of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, a Select Medical inpatient rehabilitation hospital, serves the Southern New Jersey and Greater Philadelphia areas. In 2019, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton initiated the transition of a 14-bed unit for individuals admitted with a diagnosis of brain injury.

In collaboration with Kessler Institute’s Northern New Jersey campuses, the Brain Injury Program at Marlton, NJ, has successfully implemented several beneficial elements focusing on brain injury therapy. One key element is a Safety Coach program designed for appropriate levels of activity and socialization that enhances patient protection. Other new practices include interdisciplinary behavior rounds to meet patient-specific needs and formal education sessions for patients and caregivers.

A unique highlight of Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton’s Brain Injury Program includes an on-site heated pool where patients participate in aquatic therapy with physical and occupational therapists. Aquatic therapy has increased patient engagement in the rehabilitation program.

Sessions of adaptive yoga and meditation offer additional ways patients can work toward improved functional mobility. Two LoveYourBrain-certified yoga instructors lead the adaptive yoga program: Ada Natalie Flaherty, MOT, OT/L, and Dave Turoff, MS, OTR/L. Adaptive yoga incorporates breathing as well as upper and lower body exercises (yoga poses), coordinated breath control, visualization techniques, and guided meditation. Patients benefit from this program with improved body awareness, sensation, balance and coordination, stress management, and better sleep habits. 

Last year, Natalie and Dave presented a poster entitled, “Yoga and Occupational Therapy in an Acute Rehab Setting and the Patient Experience,” at the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association 2022 Annual Conference. In May 2023, Natalie presented “Yoga as a Skilled Intervention in Acute Rehab Post Brain Injury” at the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey annual conference. 

Moreover, in 2023, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton is moving forward with structured implementation of a high-intensity gait-training program for patients with acquired brain injury. A team of physical therapists from the Marlton campus has been accepted to attend the Academy of Neurological Physical Therapy’s Knowledge Translation Summit in September 2023 in conjunction with this gait-training project. 

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton plans to continue expanding its Brain Injury Program through increased participation in research opportunities, education, and engagement as well as ongoing collaboration with Kessler Institute’s Northern New Jersey campuses.

For more information on the Brain Injury Program at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Marlton contact: Lisa Cimino, MHL, senior director of business development, [email protected], or Rachel Davy, OTR/L, director of rehabilitation, [email protected].


man and woman giving a presentation on kessler foundation's research
Dave Turoff and Ada Natalie Flaherty, LoveYourBrain certified yoga instructors, lead the brain injury adaptive

yoga program at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation-Marlton.