Kessler awarded federal Spinal Cord Injury Model System grant for 2021-2026

Kessler Foundation one of 14 centers to receive Spinal Cord Injury Model System grant from the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research

NNJSCIS logo/Logo for the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System

October 23, 2021. East Hanover, NJ.Kessler Foundation has been awarded a Spinal Cord Injury Model System (SCIMS) grant by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), part of the Administration for Community Living. The five-year grant for $2,350,527 continues federal funding for the Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System (NNJSCIS). Kessler is one of 14 model systemsin the U.S. to receive funding for the 2021-2026 SCIMS grant cycle.

The NNJSCIS, a collaboration of Kessler Foundation, Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, and University Hospital in Newark, has been funded by NIDILRR since 1990. Kessler is also a federally funded Traumatic Brain Injury Model System and one of only six centers in the U.S. to hold both grants.Model Systems provide a multidisciplinary continuum of rehabilitative care, beginning with acute care and extending through rehabilitation, reintegration to the community and the workplace, and aging.


“For more than 30 years, we have collaborated with our Model System colleagues on a range of projects aimed at improving the lives of people living with spinal cord injury,”

said Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation and co-director of the NNJSCIS. “This most recent grant enables us to continue to contribute to the important work of the SCI Model Systems.


“As a person living with an SCI since 1992, the SCIMS are also very personal to me,” added Dr. Dyson-Hudson. “I remember when I first transferred to inpatient rehabilitation, my doctor gave me a copy of the recent proceedings from the SCI Model Systems conference. It was a huge comfort knowing that there was a team of professionals dedicated to the long-term care of people with SCI—and that people like me with SCI and their families were not alone.”

“Each model system contributes data on their participants with SCI to the National SCIMS Statistical Center, the world's largest and oldest longitudinal database of people with traumatic SCI,” explained Steven Kirshblum, MD, co-director of the NNJSCIS, director of Spinal Cord Injury Services at Kessler Institute, and chief medical officer for Kessler Institute and Kessler Foundation.

“This database tracks many different outcomes after SCI,” Dr. Kirshblum continued, “helping us to identify factors that hinder the ability of individuals to live full and productive lives and develop studies that address ways to overcome these obstacles. For example, this new grant enables us to investigate the effectiveness of a new approach to improving employment outcomes after spinal cord injury. We will compare the successes of a person-centered early intervention called vocational resource facilitation with that of conventional vocational rehabilitation, looking at individuals’ return to competitive employment following inpatient rehabilitation at Kessler Institute.” 

Publication of research findings adds to global knowledge of best practices for caring for individuals with spinal cord injury throughout their lifetime. In 2022, a special supplement to Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation will highlight research findings from the SCI Model System. Kessler’s model system investigators contributed to articles on natural patterns of neurological recovery after complete spinal cord injury, how individuals use alternative and complementary therapies, and the effects of spasticity on health. In the area of community participation, they authored articles on wheelchair maintenance and wheelchair skills training, the impact of residential instability, which disproportionately affects people with spinal cord injury, and tools for measuring assistive technology use among community-dwelling individuals.

Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services #90SIMS0012

About the Spinal Cord Injury Model System: The Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) are specialized programs of care in spinal cord injury that gather information and conduct research with the goal of improving long-term functional, vocational, cognitive, and quality-of-life outcomes for individuals with spinal cord injury. Funded by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, the 2016-2021 grant cycle comprises 14 SCIMS grantees. Each grantee contributes patient records to a national database, maintained by the National SCI Statistical Center, which tracks the long-term consequences of SCI and conducts research in the areas of medical rehabilitation, health and wellness, technology, service delivery, short- and long-term interventions, and systems research. Each SCI Model System is charged with disseminating information and research findings to patients, family members, health care providers, educators, policymakers, and the general public.

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 opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.

About Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, part of the Select Medical national network of inpatient rehabilitation hospitals, provides comprehensive programs and services for individuals with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, neurologic diseases, amputation, orthopedic trauma, cancer, cardiac and other complex conditions. Ranked one of the nation’s best hospitals for rehabilitation by U.S News & World Report for 29 consecutive years, Kessler Institute has four campuses in West Orange, Saddle Brook, Chester and Marlton, N.J., and more than 95 outpatient Kessler Rehabilitation Center locations throughout the state.  For more information, visit

For more information, contact:
Deb Hauss, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, [email protected]

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