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Senator Booker Visits Kessler to Learn Care and Employment Strategies for People With Disabilities

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwired) -- 06/13/14 -- On Friday, June 6, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) toured West Orange's Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation to learn the latest updates in medical rehabilitation research, patient care and treatment, and employment funding strategies that are improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

"I was very inspired by my visit to Kessler, where cutting edge research by its Foundation is being applied to rehabilitative care at their Institute," said Senator Booker. "These elite organizations are also major employers in the state. Their work not only has economic impact here in New Jersey, but advances the treatment for people with disabilities all over the world. We must find ways to continue to support the Kessler Foundation, one of the great rehabilitation research centers in our nation. Novel strategies for rehabilitation can streamline care, expand availability of services and bring down costs."

At Kessler Foundation, Senator Booker met with disability funding experts who detailed the successes achieved through the Foundation's support of novel disability employment and job training initiatives. Scientists explained recent advances in rehabilitation research for stroke, brain and spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis (MS). Chris Tagatac, a former patient at Kessler Institute who was paralyzed in a fall from his roof, demonstrated a robotic exoskeleton that now enables him to walk. The Foundation is a leader in studying robotic devices to determine how these devices improve mobility and secondary complications of severe mobility impairments -- such as heart and lung function, muscle, circulation and bone density. Researchers also demonstrated prism adaptation therapy to treat spatial neglect, an under-recognized complication of stroke caused by a perceptual problem in the brain, and memory retraining cognitive rehabilitation therapy, which leads to improved brain activity in 10 sessions for individuals with MS.

"We were honored to have Senator Booker here and proud to tell him of our innovative work to change the lives of people with disabilities, in the state and around the world," said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. "Working in collaboration with our colleagues at Kessler Institute, we identify clinical issues that patients present, explore new treatments and aid recovery after catastrophic injuries and illnesses. We also know that finding a job is one of the biggest indicators of quality of life. At Kessler Foundation, our grant funding of innovative strategies create and expand employment opportunities and have led to more than three thousand Americans with disabilities, mostly in New Jersey, earning a paycheck and eliminating their reliance on government assistance."

Senator Booker also toured the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation, the only research-dedicated scanner within a freestanding rehabilitation facility in the U.S. The Neuroimaging Center is accelerating the rate of research advances by gathering objective evidence of a treatment's success in an effort to make a case for third-party reimbursement and make the treatment widely accessible to those who need it.

At the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation's West Orange campus, Senator Booker met with Chief Executive Officer Bonnie A. Evans, PT, MHA; Medical Director and Director of Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Steven Kirshblum, MD; and members of the clinical teams to gain additional insight into how research translates into the advanced care that the hospital provides. He also met with several patients who shared their stories, and discussed both the challenges they've faced and the progress they are making.

"This visit gave Senator Booker the opportunity to witness first-hand the courage and determination of our patients, the expertise and energy of our staff and the remarkable strides being made at our hospital every day. He also saw how important it is for patients to have access to the level of rehabilitation care that can best address their individual needs," said Evans. "As always, we greatly appreciate the Senator's support of our work, and of the unique collaboration between Kessler Institute and Kessler Foundation in advancing the care and rebuilding the lives of individuals with spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke and other neurological and orthopedic injuries."

Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation are close collaborators, as the Foundation has research space at the Institute. Research at Kessler Foundation is translated to patient care at the Institute. They are one of eight centers in the U.S. to have dual model systems in traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury -- a system of coordinated care and research that conducts in-depth collaborative studies that address the recovery and outcomes following an injury, federally-funded by the National Institute on Disability & Rehabilitation Research.

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. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

About Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation

Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation is nationally recognized for the treatment and research of both spinal cord and brain injuries and also leads the field in the care and treatment for stroke, neurological diseases, amputation, orthopedic and musculoskeletal conditions and cardiac recovery. Ranked as one of the top two rehabilitation hospitals in the nation and best in the greater New York/New Jersey metropolitan area by U.S. News & World Report, Kessler has three hospital campuses in West Orange, Saddle Brook and Chester, N.J., and more than 85 outpatient centers throughout the state. For more information, visit www.kessler-rehab.com/.

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