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Kessler Foundation awarded more than $1.2 million in grants by the NJ Commission on Sci Research
Date:7/9/2013

WEST ORANGE, N.J. -- The New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Injury Research awarded three grants to scientists at Kessler Foundation. The grants, which exceed $1.2 million, fund studies of assisted walking with Ekso, the impact of aging in the population with spinal cord injury (SCI) and the effects of electrical stimulation on bone loss.

"Thanks to the Commission, we have the ability to advance research to find new treatments that improve the function and quality of life of individuals with spinal cord injury," said John DeLuca, Ph.D., vice president for Research and Training at Kessler Foundation. "We look forward to combining our expertise in mobility and cognitive research to take the first step towards finding therapies that will delay deficits in thinking, learning and memory thought to be associated with the accelerated-aging process in people with SCI."

Gail Forrest, Ph.D., assistant director of Human Performance and Engineering Research, was awarded $574,976 over three years to study the effect of Ekso-assisted walking on muscle and bone (CSCR13IRG013). Ekso is a robotic battery-powered exoskeletal device made by Ekso Bionics. Dr. Forrest will determine whether a walking over-ground training protocol with Ekso can reverse negative changes in the muscles and bones of individuals with chronic SCI. Muscle volume and other indicators will be measured through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation. Muscle expression for PGC-1aa protein responsible for energy metabolismand bone density will also be measured. In addition, changes in loading force, joint force and muscle activation will be assessed as individuals walk using the exoskeleton. Collected data will be used to design a multi-site clinical trial to determine whether a robotic exoskeleton training program is more effective in improving musculoskeletal outcomes than other current interventions.

Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director
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Contact: Lauren Scrivo
LScrivo@KesslerFoundation.org
973-768-6583
Kessler Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

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