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Dr. John Oneill Smilng

It's March! Awareness Month for MS and TBI

March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017. Two disabling neurological conditions share March Awareness Month – multiple sclerosis (MS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  These conditions share other things as well, including causing an array of cognitive, emotional and physical disabilities, and presenting barriers to finding and maintaining employment. Because employment is fundamental to productive and independent living, research is underway at Kessler Foundation to address the spectrum of challenges faced by individuals living with MS and


Benefiting the Community and Workers with Disabilities: The Dual Successes of Social Enterprises

November 23, 2016

By Elaine Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, Senior Vice President of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation

Over the last ten years, there has been tremendous growth in social enterprise businesses, which are nonprofit or for-profit business ventures that strive to achieve a quantifiable double bottom line of financial and social returns. In many cases, these are revenue-generating businesses run by nonprofit organizations for both mission-driven and profit-driven motives. Often, these are organizations that understand and already provide services to the individuals they plan to employ through these businesses.  Because the goal of social enterprise businesses is to be self-sustaining, they often adapt commercial strategies to increase their effectiveness.  This approach has been

Employment & Disability

Investing in the Future of People with Disabilities: Our Partnership with the John J. Heldrich School of Workforce Development

October 10, 2016

By Elaine Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, Senior Vice President of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation


Two decades ago, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development was founded to strengthen the American workplace through workforce education, placement and training programs, and policy development. The Center, named for New Jersey business and community leader John J. Heldrich, is based at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Over the past 20 years, the Heldrich Center has become known as a national leader in addressing the needs of employers and jobseekers. Our own mission has been furthered through our relationship with the Center’s experts. For the past six years, Kessler Foundation has

person in wheelchair

Latest Connections now Available - our consumer newsletter for individuals with spinal cord injury

October 3, 2016

It’s out! Here’s the latest issue of Connections - the consumer newsletter from our Northern New Jersey SCI Model System. Dave Carver is pretty pleased to see his personal story - "Small Steps toward Big Gains" - on the cover!


*Read about how Dave Carver and Mike Smith are coping with life after spinal cord injury.

*See tips from Dr. Brooks on bowel management and Dr. Zanca on caregiving issues.

*Learn about new resources and Kessler Institute’s Peer Mentoring Program.


*Find out about opportunities to participate in research.

kessler foundation blog

Fire or False alarm? Restoring confidence in fMRI research

August 8, 2016

By Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, research scientist in Traumatic Brain Injury Research at Kessler Foundation.

During the past few weeks I have been bombarded with text messages, Facebook posts and face-to-face questions and remarks from friends, colleagues and relatives. The theme I heard from very different people contained very similar information: several Internet posts with a very glum message were asserting that years of neuroimaging research are invalidated. For example, some posts like this one from the UK’s Register: fMRI bugs could upend years of research, sounded an alarm about a bug in analysis software that neuroimaging researchers use to analyze brain data, while others called into question the whole analysis strategy, e.g., A bug in fMRI software could invalidate 15

kessler foundation blog

Volunteers needed for Gulf War Illness study

May 16, 2016

Although it has been 25 years since the Gulf War I ceasefire, many veterans are living with the consequences of Gulf War Illness. Kessler Foundation needs help from Gulf War-era veterans to answer important questions about their health-related quality of life. If you are a Gulf War Veteran (Desert Storm, Desert Shield, OEF, OIF, OND) and are between the ages of 18-65, you are eligible to help us with our research.  We are interested in veterans with and without Gulf War Illness. Enrollment in the study involves taking surveys and having an MRI brain scan at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, New Jersey. If you live more than 90 miles from West Orange we may be able to provide overnight stay accommodations. In appreciation for your time, you will receive $100.00.

Dr. Barrett discusses hidden disability after stroke on NJTV

Dr. Barrett discusses hidden disability after stroke on NJTV

May 10, 2016


On April 29, Dr. A.M. Barrett, director of Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, appeared on NJTV's One on One show to discuss how stroke can disrupt a person’s 'internal GPS', causing them to have difficulties in navigating the environment – a disabling condition called spatial neglect. With host Steve Adubato, Dr. Barrett demonstrated how prism goggles are used to treat this hidden disability. Here’s the link!


May is Stroke Awareness Month!


Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, Denise Krch, PhD, and Andrea Gagliano MS

Caring for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury

March 16, 2016

By Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, Denise Krch, PhD, and Andrea Gagliano, MS TBI researchers at Kessler Foundation

According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 5.3 million Americans need long-term or lifelong help with their activities of daily living as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their families are often their primary custodians. With caregiving comes considerable physical and emotional burdens and a decline in quality of life. Unfortunately, the voices of caregivers are often lost in the midst of caring for the individuals with TBI.

How big is the problem? Approximately 1.4 million TBIs occur each year with 80,000 to 90,000 new persons who need ongoing care. For 17% of them, their disabilities are moderate to severe. The impact is devastating to the

kessler foundation blog

As published in the Star-Ledger, Jan. 13, 2016 - Op-Ed by Rodger DeRose

March 11, 2016

The economy is rebounding,  which means job openings are increasing across a variety of sectors. With the gains in education, policy and legislation over the past quarter century, Americans with disabilities are better prepared than ever for fulfilling jobs and careers.

Advertising openings and searching for jobs has never been easier thanks to advances in technology and social media, in particular.

Yet many people with disabilities are still striving to connect to the workplace, according to recent jobs data, and many employers are failing to connect with qualified candidates for

Anthony Lequerica, PhD with his arms crossed wearing a lab coat

Wake Up to What Matters Most!

March 11, 2016

By Anthony Lequerica, PhD, research scientist in TBI Research at Kessler Foundation. Dr. Lequerica, a neuropsychologist, shares how he manages life with a hidden disability, and succeeds in helping himself and others with disabilities. 


At age 16, the onset of narcolepsy, a life-long neurological disorder, diverted me from my plans to go to medical school, but put me on a path to a career for which I have a great deal of passion. I decided to major in psychology and with much hard work and perseverance, and the support of friends, family, teachers, and university organizations, I earned my Ph.D. It took me a LONG time, but I did it. Along the way, I learned many important lessons about accepting my limitations and educating others about disability. As a result of my

kessler foundation blog

Education and Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

March 11, 2016

John O’Neill, PhD, explores how to maximize the impact of education on employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Dr. O’Neill is Kessler Foundation’s director of Disability & Employment Research. 


Education and Employment Outcomes for People with Disabilities: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?



We know that in the general population individuals with postsecondary education have higher incomes and lower unemployment rates than those with only high school diplomas or less. We also know that the impact of rising levels of education on work-life earnings surpasses that of all other demographic factors.


We know that over the past 5 years, education levels have risen among people with disabilities, so how are educational

Dr. Barrett elected Fellow of American Academy of Neurology

Dr. Barrett elected Fellow of American Academy of Neurology

March 10, 2016



March 10, 2016. A.M. Barrett, MD, director of Stroke Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Dr. Barrett was acknowledged for her achievements in the field of neurology, her leadership of the AAN Neural Repair and Neurorehabilitation section, and her contributions toward improved cognitive testing as a member of the


AAN Behavioral Neurology Section Workgroup. “I am honored and grateful to the former Chairs of the Neural Repair and Rehabilitation Section and Behavioral Neurology Section, Steven Small, MD, and Kirk Daffner, MD, for nominating me for this distinction.”






Dr. Barrett also serves as chief

Dr. Chiaravalloti joins brain injury experts on Rep. Pascrell's 'To the Point'

Dr. Chiaravalloti joins brain injury experts on Rep. Pascrell's 'To the Point'

February 4, 2016

Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti joined Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. on his monthly cable broadcast “To the Point,” to discuss the implications of brain injuries in sports, the military and other activities. The panel included Leonard Marshall, a former defensive lineman with the New York Giants who has been diagnosed with signs of CTE  ( and Wendy Berk, Public Education Coordinator at the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (

Tune in here for a thought-provoking discussion


Employers & Jobseekers with Disabilities: Making the Connection: An Op-Ed by Rodger DeRose

Employers & Jobseekers with Disabilities: Making the Connection: An Op-Ed by Rodger DeRose

January 13, 2016

The January 13, 2016 edition of the Star-Ledger features an op-ed by Rodger DeRose, president & CEO of Kessler Foundation. In "Connecting Employers with Jobseekers with Disabilities", DeRose addresses the obstacles faced by jobseekers with disabilities, the challenges faced by employers with job openings, and successful funding strategies for making lasting connections and promoting inclusion in the workplace.  His opinion appears on page 18 of the January 13 print edition, and online at

Foundation scientists preview the film Concussion

Foundation scientists preview the film Concussion

January 4, 2016

Kessler Foundation scientists previewed the film ‘Concussion’, which opened in theaters on Christmas Day. The film, starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, details the challenges the doctor faced in his exploration of the deaths of professional football players who had experienced severe cognitive deterioration. ‘Concussion’ is provoking much discussion about the risks of contact sports, from professional leagues to youth sports. Learn more from our experts about advances in cognitive rehabilitation research that are relevant to people recovering from brain injury. Contact us to schedule an interview. Carolann Murphy,