Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research
Maximizing Independence After Traumatic Brain Injury
After traumatic brain injury (TBI), life changes forever for individuals and families. Through research, we develop new ways to help individuals recover cognitive function and mobility, and equip families and caregivers with the long-term support they need to adjust to living with brain injury.
Cognitive Functioning and Cognitive Rehabilitation Laboratory
Neuromotivation and Network Integrity Laboratory
Senior Research Scientist
Advancing Diverse Rehabilitation Treatments Laboratory
Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology Laboratory
Senior Research Scientist
Brain Injury and Behavioral Outcomes Laboratory
Research Scientist, Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research
Assessment and Rehabilitation of Everyday Cognition Laboratory
Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury System
Kessler Foundation, in collaboration with Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, is designated as a federally funded Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (TBIMS) of care. The TBIMS program is a national network of care and research that follows individuals from the time of injury through rehabilitation, return to school and the community, and aging with TBI. One of 16 TBI model systems, the Northern New Jersey TBI System (NNJTBIS) fosters collaborative research that addresses the lifelong needs of the TBI community, translates findings into clinical care, and provides resources for individuals with TBI and their caregivers.
Improving Everyday Life through Behavioral Therapy
Managing the care of individuals with moderate to severe TBI presents major challenges in rehabilitative care. Treatments that are noninvasive, nonpharmacological and easy to administer can be a cost-effective approach to improving cognitive function. Researchers tested a behavioral therapy shown to improve learning and memory in multiple sclerosis, and found similar effects in individuals with TBI, as well as improvements in their ability to function in everyday life. This modified Story Memory Technique (mSMT) protocol, developed by Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and her team, is available in Spanish and Chinese.
MRI brain scan images displaying the differences in brain activation from before (left) to after (right) emotional processing treatment across two participants with traumatic brain injury. After treatment, increased activation is noted in the frontal and parietal regions. This data helps researchers to evaluate both behavioral and functional changes.
Studying Ways to Improve Emotional Processing
Being unable to interpret the facial expressions of others is associated with several neurological conditions, including TBI and MS. Scientists are studying new ways to treat this emotional processing deficit, which leads to problems in social situations and interpersonal relationships. Using neuroimaging, behavioral changes are correlated with brain activation patterns, providing objective evidence for the effectiveness of new treatments. A computerized training program under development may prove effective for improving social functioning in the community, the workplace, and at home, and enhance quality of life.
Combatting Disabling Cognitive Fatigue
Individuals with neurological damage often report a lack of mental energy, called cognitive fatigue that interferes with their ability to perform daily activities. Using neuroimaging techniques, researchers are learning more about the underlying mechanisms of cognitive fatigue in TBI, as well as in the MS population and veterans with Gulf War Illness. This understanding is fundamental to the development and testing of new behavioral interventions that can help individuals combat the disabling effects of fatigue.