Kessler Foundation awarded $345,000 grant by New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research


female scientists within circle shapes
Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and
Jean Lengenfelder, PhD, Kessler Foundation.

Researchers will conduct studies investigating the long-term neurological impact of COVID-19 in brain injury and improving social skills for transition-age youth with brain injury

EAST HANOVER, NJ – June 2, 2022 – Kessler Foundation scientists received two grants from the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, totaling $345,379. Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and Jean Lengenfelder, PhD, were awarded pilot study grants for two separate projects aimed at improving the lives of individuals with brain injury.

Dr. Chiaravalloti, director, Centers for Neuropsychology, Neuroscience and Traumatic Brain Injury Research, received a two-year grant of $169,383 for her study titled, “Examining the long-term neurological impact of COVID-19 in traumatic brain injury (TBI).” Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is a collaborating institution. Dr. Chiaravalloti and partners will examine and document the impact of COVID-19 on individuals with pre-existing, moderate-to-severe TBI as compared with previously neurologically healthy individuals.

“The risks of COVID-19 complications may be higher in individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI,” says Dr. Chiaravalloti. “In this pilot study, we will identify participants with and without TBI who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and re-evaluate their cognitive and neurological functioning with annual follow-ups. Doing so will enable us to directly compare the impact of COVID-19 in these two groups,” she explains.

Dr. Lengenfelder, assistant director, Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research, received a two-year grant of $175,996 for her study titled, “Improving social skills for young people with brain injury,” a critically significant area for the chronic management of disease in youth with brain injury. Dr. Lengenfelder will examine whether a social skills treatment program currently used for individuals with autism spectrum disorder has the potential to improve social skills in young adults with brain injury transitioning to the workforce (ages 15-25).

Dr. Lengenfelder intends to translate the program into a virtual format and adapt the content for maximal learning. “We will evaluate the program delivery and pilot the social skills treatment with individuals with brain injury,” explains Dr. Lengenfelder, adding, “In addition we will examine changes in social skills following the program and evaluate the impact of the treatment on social functioning, employment readiness, and quality of life for young adults with brain injury. By improving their skills and abilities, we anticipate individuals with brain injury may become more independent and experience greater quality of life.” 

Funding: New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research grants #CBIR22PIL003 and #CBIR22PIL029

About the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research
The New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research promotes necessary research that will result in the treatment and cure for traumatic injuries of the brain, thereby giving hope to an ever-increasing number of residents who suffer the debilitating effects of this injury. To achieve these goals the Commission will encourage and promote significant, original research projects in New Jersey emphasizing nerve regeneration as a means to a cure for brain injury through the funding of approved research projects at qualifying research institutions in the state. In addition, the Commission will establish and maintain, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Health, a central registry of all persons who sustain traumatic brain injuries.

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.



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