West Orange, NJ. December 3, 2014. In 1992, the United Nations designated December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, to promote understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities everywhere. On this day, it is fitting to reflect on the legacy of Henry H. Kessler MD, PhD (1896-1978), the rehabilitation pioneer who founded Kessler Institute in 1948. Dr. Kessler extended his early rehabilitation experience in workmen’s compensation in Newark, New Jersey, to caring for those injured during World War II, and then to the international arena, spreading the message of the importance of comprehensive
Being a caregiver is a challenging responsibility. Add disability into the equation, and it can exponentially strain the commitment. Such relationships can, however, also be very rewarding. I understand the intricacies of the dependent-caregiver relationship because I have a physical disability and require daily assistance to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home, which has proved to be very helpful throughout my career as a therapist and life coach.
For parents, physical caregiving usually ends when their child reaches the age of maturation—around age 18. But this is not always possible for children with chronic disabilities, who rely on 24-hour care.
While physical disabilities may not affect the individual's mental capacities, their physical needs can still be that of a
On Veteran’s Day, we pause to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed so much to protect our freedom. Sadly, many struggle in the transition to civilian life and face challenges when trying to find employment. For our veterans who return with a disability, the transition is even more difficult. At Kessler Foundation, one of my favorite parts of my job is meeting the individuals whose lives were changed as a result of the generous support from our donors.
I have had the privilege of speaking to many veterans who found employment through organizations and initiatives funded by Kessler Foundation, and telling their stories. Individuals like
The value of hard work was instilled in me from a very young age. My parents came from Medellin, Colombia to the United States in the 1970s in pursuit of the American dream. My father worked three jobs. Sick days were never an option. He respected his jobs and took great pride in showing my sister and me how hard he worked to provide for our household. Despite being the only one in my family born with a disability, I was determined to be like my father and do everything possible to earn a living when I grew up.
Throughout my childhood, my mother only spoke Spanish. Growing up in an under-served community, obtaining medical information in Spanish was difficult. At times, others would help my mother communicate with doctors about specific information, such as the date and location
I’ll never forget the day that shaped the rest of my life. Having just ended my junior year at Ramapo College, I was home enjoying the beautiful May afternoon. The year was 1988, seven years since an auto accident had left me a quadriplegic. Suddenly, the phone rang. I heard the voice of the public relations manager from the New Jersey Nets, with whom I had interviewed a few weeks prior. Excitement and relief washed over me as he said that I was chosen to intern with the club that summer.
The internship would give me work experience to help me choose my path to a fulfilling career. Although the internship was unpaid, I was thrilled to face the challenges ahead of me.
But I felt some pangs of self-doubt as well. I was still adjusting to living life as a
Spastic cerebral palsy may affect my mobility and speech, but it does not affect my ability to achieve my goals. Always very driven and determined, I realized early on in high school that I wanted to be a voice for people with disabilities. I started by advocating on behalf of the student body for improvements to make the campus more accessible for students with disabilities. As I saw that I could make a difference in a small environment, I wanted to sharpen my advocacy skills to have the ability to make an even bigger impact.
I found Partners in Policymaking (PIP), a leadership training program sponsored by the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD). After graduating from PIP, I was appointed to the Council and advanced in my role. Currently serving as Vice-
Born a little person, I have dedicated my life to helping everyone accept the differences in others. I’m one of only 30,000 little people currently living in the United States. Most U.S. citizens may not ever physically meet a little person. This means that society's views of little people are directly related to what they see on their home television screens. From The Wizard of Oz and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to Game of Thrones, to The Little Couple, it’s a known fact that the perceptions of little people in the media has slowly changed for the better in recent years.
If an individual sees a positive media portrayal before meeting me, I’m treated with respect. A negative portrayal, however, leads to points and laughs. I have decided
Humanitarian and boxing legend Muhammad Ali once said to me, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our space here on Earth.” Ever since that day back in the 90’s, I remind myself of that purpose, each and every day. Just a few short years after that, I combined that purpose with my passion—motivational and inspirational speaking—and my career took off.
I spoke for a non-profit organization, for which I shared my personal experiences of living life with paralysis and medical advances in spinal cord injury research. But then, a calling came to travel the world, make peace with the past, and deepen my purpose to help others. Shortly after my first journey, which took me to 26 countries in one year, I felt an urge to begin speaking to all types of audiences and not only share my
October marks the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month - a time to acknowledge the substantial contributions made by workers with disabilities. It's also a time to reflect on our attitudes as a society and find ways to expand employment opportunities for this talented population – the largest minority in the U.S.
According to the 2015 Kessler Foundation Employment and Disability Survey, 69 percent of Americans with disabilities are working, actively preparing for employment, searching for jobs, or seeking more hours. What does this mean? Clearly, it means that work is important to the majority of people with disabilities.
Survey respondents also shared their experiences with barriers to
September 28, 2015. Researchers have found that use of a foot drop stimulator (WalkAide) improves walking in individuals with foot drop as a result of stroke. "Changes in center of dispalcement withthe use of a foot drop stimulator in individuals with stroke" was publsihed in the journal Clinical Biomechanics (doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2015.03.016) The authors are Dr. Karen Nolan and Mathew Yarossi of Human Performance and Engineering Research at Kessler Foundation, and Patrick Mclaughlin of Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.
September 28, 2015. Scientists at Kessler Foundation authored a review article that describes a specific hypothesis for fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS). “The dopamine imbalance hypothesis of fatigue in multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders,” was published in the open access journal, Frontiers in Neurology (doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00052). This hypothesis builds upon evidence from studies in neuropsychology, pharmacology, immunology, and neuroimaging that point to a critical role for dopamine, a modulatory neurotransmitter. Authors Ekaterina Dobryakova, PhD, Helen Genova, PhD, John DeLuca, PhD, and Glenn Wylie, DPhil, recommend further investigation of the role of dopamine in fatigue
Join us on Sunday, September 27, 2015, from 10am to 1pm at Verona Park in Verona, NJ for Kessler Foundation’s 14th Annual Stroll ‘N Roll! This exciting family event brings together hundreds of people of all abilities to raise vital funds to improve quality of life for people with disabilities. We have planned a fun-filled day of games, prizes, crafts, and music, plus a scenic walk around Verona Lake. The cost to register is $25 for individuals or $50 for families/teams. Sponsorship opportunities range from $500 to $25,000. Every dollar you give or raise changes the lives of people with disabilities. For more information and to register, visit
Assemblywoman Mila Jasey presents resolution at opening of the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler FoundationSeptember 26, 2015
Jasey, Codey and McKeon sponsored joint legislative resolution of state Senate and General Assembly
At the September 26 Opening of the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27-NJ) presents a joint legislative resolution of the Senate and General Assembly. The resolution, sponsored by Jasey, Senator Codey and Assemblyman John McKeon, acknowledges the Center as unique in its dedication solely to rehabilitation research and affirms its “importance to the citizens of West Orange, this State, and the world…"
By Rodger DeRose
This opinion piece, written by Kessler Foundation's President and CEO Rodger DeRose, was published in The Hill, on July 24, 2015. To view the piece on The Hill's website, visit http://thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/249021-employment-is-priority-people-with-disabilities-have-value-as-workers-and
Sunday, July 26, marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most significant pieces of civil rights legislation – the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA – prohibiting
For the past year, at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, Dr. Peii Chen, research scientist, and Kimberly Hreha, stroke clinical research coordinator, felt as if they had changed their job titles! An ambitious goal led to expanding their daily work tasks to include scriptwriting, interviewing professional videographers, casting patients, and learning to read off a teleprompter (just to name a few)! This effort was all toward developing a web-based video tutorial of the assessment process they developed called the Kessler Foundation Neglect Assessment Process (KF-NAP). You may be asking yourself…
Why: In 2012, occupational