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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

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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

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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,

Kessler Foundation Marks UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Kessler Foundation Marks UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 1, 2015

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

Jenna Luzzo

How Caregivers Can Maintain Healthy Relationships: The Perspective of a Therapist with a Disability

November 30, 2015

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

Lauren Scrivo Harris

The Power of Employing Veterans

November 11, 2015

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

Stephanie Jimenez wearing a blue jacket

Hard Work Plus Accommodations Equal Success in the Workplace

November 3, 2015

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

Michael Smith with his wife and son

Excelling in the Workplace: My Journey

October 28, 2015

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

Christopher Miller wearing a graduate outfit

My Journey to Find Employment

October 23, 2015

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-

Becky Curran

Working to Improve Inclusion in the Media

October 20, 2015

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