Kessler Foundation Press Releases

Dr. Zanca of Kessler Foundation Receives $600,000 Award to Improve Care for People with Spinal Cord Injury

dr zanca  wearing a red sweater

October 25, 2016. East Hanover, NJ

Jeanne M. Zanca, PhD, MPT, of Kessler Foundation is the project director/principal investigator of a Field-Initiated Program award from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The nearly $600,000 grant will fund her three-year project to improve the quality of personal care assistance services for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) through on-line education.

Kessler Foundation, in partnership with Shepherd Center and key stakeholders, will identify educational needs and develop an online course to help new personal care assistants (PCAs) - who are typically unfamiliar with the special needs of people with SCI - understand the unique effects of spinal cord injury, the types of care needs that people with SCI have, and how the assistance that PCAs provide helps those with spinal cord injury live healthy, productive lives in the community.

The course is designed to "jump-start" the training process by providing a foundation of knowledge about SCI that will make subsequent hands-on training in bathing, feeding, transfers, etc. more effective and efficient. The web-based curriculum will include a certification process. Discussion guides, worksheets, and a resource list will facilitate the application and adaptation of the training to the care of specific individuals with SCI. The course will also address how to improve communication between people with spinal cord injury and their PCAs.

Dr. Zanca says proper assistance with skin care, positioning, clearing of secretions, emptying of bowel and bladder, and proper hygiene can greatly minimize health problems in people with spinal cord injury. "Most re-hospitalizations after SCI are related to conditions that are preventable with appropriate daily care," explains Dr. Zanca, a senior research scientist in Spinal Cord Injury & Outcomes Assessment Research at Kessler Foundation. "High-quality personal care assistance services are critical to prevent these medical complications, avoid premature death, and allow people with SCI to participate fully in their communities and the workplace."

Funded by NIDILRR grant 90lF0115-01-00

About SCI Research at Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation is one of the most active centers for SCI Research in the country. Under the leadership of Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, and Steven Kirshblum, MD, scientists conduct investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored studies and clinical trials in SCI and Outcomes Assessment Research.  The Northern New Jersey SCI System, one of 14 model systems in the nation, provides a continuum of care, research, and outreach aimed at improving the lives of people with SCI.

Research funding sources include the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living & Rehabilitation Research, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the New Jersey Commission for SCI Research, and Kessler Foundation. Foundation scientists have faculty appointments at Rutgers University; selected researchers are affiliated faculty at NJIT.   About Kessler Foundation: Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes - including employment - for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

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