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Imagine a world in which only abilities matter.

At Kessler Foundation, we do.

With the support of our donors, our scientists and grant makers make new discoveries and create employment opportunities that change the lives of people with disabilities, including veterans, in a meaningful and tangible way.

Individuals paralyzed by a catastrophic injury or disease, for example, are getting out of their wheelchairs and taking their first steps. In 2011, our scientists were among the first to conduct research using wearable, battery-powered robotic exoskeletons that allow people with lower extremity weakness or paralysis to stand and take steps. Today, Kessler Foundation is one of the few rehabilitation research centers in the US to study three different wearable robots—Ekso and its latest generation the Ekso GT, ReWalk and Indego. Our first investigations focused on people with spinal cord injury. Now, we are testing one of these robotic devices, Ekso GT, in stroke survivors and people with brain injury, many of whom have weakness or paralysis.

Robotics therapy is revolutionizing rehabilitation. Here is a story that illustrates why this work is so important. In May of this year, as 30-year-old Dez Duru was counting down the days to her wedding, she sustained a stroke. This vibrant young woman lost much of her movement on the left side of her body. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I need to get married… and have my kids.” This summer, Dez participated in the Ekso GT trial at Kessler Foundation. The repetitive, natural walking pattern helped retrain her body. Dez continues to walk independently at home, using a walker for longer distances. And at her December wedding, she walked down the aisle and danced with the love of her life. 

Here are some more recent achievements that philanthropic support has helped bring about:

  • In a new DVD, available internationally, medical practitioners are learning the protocol developed by Kessler Foundation researchers to improve memory in people with MS. Data gathered at the Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation will now help determine the treatment’s efficacy in traumatic brain injury.

  • Our researchers developed a home-based, portable prism adaptation kit to treat spatial neglect—a perceptual problem in which individuals with right-brain stroke don’t recognize the left side of their environment. 

  • For spinal cord injury, our researchers are conducting an exciting, ground-breaking 5-year study to determine the benefits of a regimen of medication and exercise.

  • Since 2005, Kessler Foundation has distributed more than $30 million in grants to initiatives that create or expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. 

Through our research, people with disabilities are receiving more effective rehabilitation—rehabilitation that restores mobility and the ability to think, learn, and remember. And they are gaining access to employment opportunities never before possible. But there is still more that needs to be done.

Should you have any questions, please e-mail development@kesslerfoundation.org or call 973-324-8362