Foundation system

Kessler Foundation researchers receive NJHF grants to advance research in neurological disorders

Each year, the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) accepts grant applications for research projects that demonstrate exciting potential to help scientists leverage their preliminary discoveries to qualify for additional funding to advance their research. This year, grants were awarded to three researchers from the Kessler Foundation.

Peii (Peggy) Chen, PhD, Principal Investigator at the Stroke Rehabilitation Research Center, received a $35,000 one-year award for its project to improve safety while boating using mixed reality technology.

Dr. Chen is developing an assistive program (the SafeNav app powered by the Microsoft HoloLens device) to address the high risk of falls among the elderly and stroke survivors. The objective of the study is to determine the preliminary effectiveness of the SafeNav app on walking safety among the healthy elderly population and stroke survivors with and without spatial neglect.

With diminished motor and cognitive abilities, older people are at risk of falls when walking. In addition to old age, stroke is also a risk factor for falls. In addition, right brain injury is associated with a higher risk of falling than left brain injury, which may be related to the greater prevalence of spatial neglect after right stroke (38%) than after left stroke ( 18%)..”


Peii (Peggy) Chen, PhD, Principal Investigator at the Center for Stroke Rehabilitation Research, Kessler Foundation

Peter Barrance, Ph.D., senior researcher at the Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, received a $35,000 one-year award for its project evaluating a robotic knee exoskeleton for people with knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Robotic exoskeletons, worn over or under clothing, are emerging as effective assistive devices to improve mobility for people with neurological conditions such as strokes and spinal cord injuries, but have not been extensively tested in people with osteoarthritis of the knee.

Dr. Barrance hypothesizes that walking with a lightweight, flexible robotic knee exoskeleton developed in the lab of co-lead researcher Dr. Hao Su will unload (transfer pressure from one side of the joint to the other ) of the knee while walking and will reduce pain. in people with osteoarthritis of the knee. “Currently, treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee includes physiotherapy, pain medication, and total knee arthroplasty. Potentially, a knee exoskeleton could reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis of the knee by reducing the forces borne by the knee,” says Dr. Barrance.

Dr. Erik Hummer, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research, received a one-year, $35,000 grant for its project to develop and evaluate a phase-specific cyclic feedback intervention system in pediatric cerebral palsy.

Visual feedback, such as information displayed on a screen, is often used during activities to enhance the benefits people derive from rehabilitation exercises.

While visual feedback while walking has been explored in pediatric cerebral palsy, there is little information about its use during stationary cycling. Dr. Hummer’s study focuses on a phase-specific cycle visual feedback system that can be used to help people with cerebral palsy balance their pedaling and improve the benefits gained from rehabilitation exercises.

Participants first cycle without feedback, then cycle with visual feedback to see how much they push and pull on the pedal as well as how much they push on both sides. According to Dr. Hummer, “The goal of the feedback system is to help participants push more than they pull while pedaling, which can improve the way they walk,” adding that “Measurements taken throughout cycling show how participants’ muscles and brain activity change due to visual feedback.”