Consumer Resources - Traumatic Brain Injury

Kessler Foundation and all of us at the Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury System (NNJTBIS) are committed to improving the quality of life for individuals with brain injury and, in turn, their families. As a selected model system center, funded by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research, we conduct collaborative research to develop a standard of care and identify lifestyle issues that matter most to people living with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Kessler Foundation follows individuals from the time of injury throughout their lives to track how individuals of all races, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses to track how they recover and get back in to the community.

Our staff dedicates a great deal of time communicating with researchers, clinicians (including doctors, nurses, and therapists), patients, and families the importance of our ongoing work and the progress we are making every day. It is also important that we hear from our consumers. We value the opinions of individuals with TBI and we see the consumers as part of our team. Kessler Foundation regularly updates its website and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Facebook page to reflect the latest research discoveries and resources. We also host conferences and distribute semi-annual TBI News ‘N Views newsletters. We encourage our consumers to reach out to us and become an active part of our work.

On this page, you will find information about our TBI research, facts about TBI, quality of life and employment after disability issues, newsletters, upcoming TBI conferences, and other resources for people with TBI and their families.

Research

Kessler Foundation is a leader in TBI research directed at improving thinking, learning, and memory, as well as daily function in individuals with TBI. We also have studies examining the application of virtual reality to TBI at Kessler Foundation, thanks to a partnership with the University of Southern California. The benefit of virtual reality testing is that it places people in real-life situations to discover how they would function in their daily lives. Participants are tested in a virtual office environment, where they perform various work tasks, before and after treatment to assess the effect the treatment had on every day functions. Virtual reality provides an objective account of how a treatment is impacting daily life, rather than relying on the subjective nature of how someone feels.

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Client participating in a study that examins the application of virtual reality to TBI

Kessler Foundation and NNJTBIS also focuses research on improving our ability to evaluate quality of life and factors influencing employment after TBI in both the white population and Hispanic populations. Recent work has discovered that age of injury, level of independence, and employment status one year after injury are the biggest factors influencing quality of life. Indicators affecting employment include pre-injury education and employment, cause of the injury, independence and vocational scores, and days in rehabilitative care.

TBI researchers at Kessler Foundation have similarly identified factors that contribute to better progress in rehabilitation after TBI. Education level and income at the time of the injury are the important contributors to progress in rehabilitation. The researchers believe that these factors may be a reflection of socioeconomic status. With this information, medical professionals can understand the obstacles each person with brain injury faces and how to help every person maximize their progress during rehabilitation.

TBI research at Kessler Foundation also investigates how to treat the common effects of a TBI, such as cognitive decline, cognitive fatigue, performing complex tasks, and changes in social interactions, so that people with TBI can reintegrate into the community and even find employment after injury. Learn more about participating in a TBI research study.

 

Facts about TBI

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC) is a great resource for individuals with TBI and their families. MSKTC frequently publishes fact sheets on common questions and issues that arise after TBI, including:

Quality of Life and Employment after TBI

In 2010, Kessler Foundation and the National Organization on Disability (NOD) conducted two surveys: Survey of Americans with Disabilities and the Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities. The first survey analyzed the "gaps" in the lifestyles of people with and without disabilities in key areas of life, such as education, employment, income, access to technology and transportation, healthcare services, socialization, community and political participation, and overall life satisfaction. The findings indicate that while education is nearly equal, only 21 percent of people with disabilities are employed as opposed to 59 percent of those without disabilities. This strikingly low employment rate leads to challenges in nearly every other area of life.

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Gentleman completing a research document

The 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities analyzed the landscape of America's workforce and the hiring practices of employers. It found that while people with disabilities make up 20 percent of the population, they only comprise 2-3 percent of the workforce. Employers who have hired employees with disabilities reported that they have more dedication and fewer turnovers than their non-disabled counterparts as well as equal levels of adaptability and absenteeism. Most employers, however, are not thinking about hiring someone with a disability.

To get people with disabilities back to work, Kessler Foundation supports organizations that create or expand job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Jobs have been created in technology, document management, finance, science, growing produce, and the arts, just to name a few. In 2011, Kessler Foundation awarded three of its five largest employment grants to organizations in Alaska, Florida, and Hawaii that will help develop job skills and find employment for people with TBI. Read how one man defied the odds and survived a penetrating TBI and how he is coping with the struggles of employment.

TBI News & Views Newsletter

Kessler Foundation and NNJTBIS distribute a semiannual newsletter for people with TBI and their families. In this newsletter, you’ll hear from brain injury survivors, get research updates, and learn about available resources to improve your life. Read current and past issues here:

Other Brain Injury Resources

Research:

New Jersey Brain Injury Resources:

Organizations:

Related Information and Publications from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:

Publicaciones en Español:

Traumatismo Cerebral: Esperanza en la Investigación

Multimedia

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    The Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury System proudly presents "Moving Forward: Personal Perspectives on Life after Brain Injury"

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    Alder Crocker - Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Survivor

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    Weasilience: Handling Life's Wild Moments Brain Injury Survivor - Carole Starr