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Kessler Foundation scientist explores biomark

image: Silvana Costa, PhD, is a research scientist at the Kessler Foundation Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research Center.
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Credit: Kessler Foundation

East Hanover, NJ – July 11, 2022 – Silvana Costa, PhD, of the Kessler Foundation has received a two-year, $199,800 grant from the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research. His study examines the possibility of using eye movements as a biomarker of cognitive dysfunction in people with acute traumatic spinal cord injury (TCS) with concurrent traumatic brain injury (TBI), called dual diagnosis. Dr. Costa, a researcher at the Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research Center, is responsible for the study titled “Using eye movements as a biomarker of dual diagnosis in acute spinal cord injury: a proof-of-concept study”.

A dual diagnosis of tSCI and TBI (tSCI-TBI) occurs when individuals exhibit specific clinical and diagnostic features of both disorders resulting from trauma. “At present, understanding of the effects of the simultaneous presence of TCMS and TCC is limited, although dual diagnosis is estimated to affect between 25% and 60% of the TCMS population,” said Dr. Coast.

The diagnosis of tSCI-TBI is frequently made retrospectively by reviewing acute care medical records and studies have shown that people with tSCI-TBI have poorer outcomes after rehabilitation with reduced quality of life. “Emergency medical services and/or acute care medical records often lack the basic information necessary to diagnose the presence and severity of TBI, particularly in the presence of life-threatening conditions often caused by spinal cord injury” , explained Dr. Costa. “Accurate identification of tSCI-TBI is therefore one of the greatest challenges that clinicians and researchers face when examining cognitive functions and treating people with tSCI,” she added. .

While tSCI is defined primarily by motor and sensory impairments, a growing number of research studies have shown that cognitive impairment (the ability to perform complex operations such as reading and understanding a book) is common in acute tSCI. and chronicles. Specifically, it is estimated that up to 60% of people with tSCI have some degree of cognitive impairment. There are approximately 17,500 new traumatic spinal cord injuries (tSCI) each year, with approximately 285,000 people living with tSCI in the United States alone.

Dr. Costa’s research encompasses two subgroups of individuals with acute TCMS: (1) TCSt (no history of TBI at the time of the traumatic event) (2) TCSt with moderate to severe TBI. In both cases, a group of able-bodied individuals will serve as a comparison sample (participants without TCMS).

The Kessler Foundation is actively recruiting volunteers for this research study and other disabling SCI conditions. To learn more, visit

Funding: This research is funded by the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research under award # CSCR22ERG009.

About the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research
The Commission’s mission is to ensure that the people of New Jersey receive the utmost attention and benefit from our nation’s fight against spinal cord injury and disease through its promotion of research into the treatment and The healing. The Commission was established to encourage and promote significant and original research projects in New Jersey through the funding of approved projects at qualified research institutes 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 experience spinal cord injury. For more information visit:

About the Kessler Foundation

The Kessler Foundation, a leading disability nonprofit, is a world leader in rehabilitation research that aims to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes – including employment – for people with disabilities. people with neurological disorders caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. The Kessler Foundation is the national leader in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. For more information on Kessler Foundation research, visit

For more information contact:
Deb Hauss, Senior Writer, 973.324.8372, [email protected]
Carolann Murphy, Senior Medical Writer, [email protected]

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