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Kessler Foundation to improve home care for spinal cord injury with Department of Defense grant

West Orange, NJ. January 2, 2014. Kessler Foundation is conducting a 3-year research study to improve the health and quality of life of military personnel and civilians with spinal cord injury (SCI). The study, 'Systematic Assessment of Caregiving Skill Performance by Individuals with Tetraplegia and their Caregivers', is funded by a $590,540 grant from a special program in the Department of Defense (W81XWH-12-1-0553).

Jeanne M. Zanca, PhD, MPT, senior research scientist in SCI Research at Kessler Foundation, is the study's principal investigator. Dr. Zanca leads a team of investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Shepherd Center, and the East Orange Campus of the VA New Jersey Healthcare System. The goal is to develop an assessment tool that evaluates the ability of individuals with tetraplegia to direct their care and the ability of their caregivers to properly perform care tasks. The tool will help therapists identify and improve the skills for self-directed care so that individuals can successfully transition to home and community.

"People with tetraplegia often have loss of movement in their hands and arms, which makes it difficult for them to do things for themselves," Dr. Zanca explained. "If they can't effectively communicate to others how to assist them, then they are forced to rely on specially trained personnel, such as nurses. Because specialized care can be too costly to receive at home, they may have to live in nursing homes. However, if we teach people with tetraplegia to direct others to serve as their 'hands,' they can get help from just about anyone. This increases their sense of control over their daily activities and makes it more likely that they can receive the help they need at home and in the community." The study will create a meaningful assessment tool by using feedback from persons with tetraplegia, their caregivers, and SCI clinicians to identify appropriate content for the tool. The assessment tool will be tested in inpatient rehabilitation to determine how it should be modified to maximize its usefulness.


Contact: Carolann Murphy
Kessler Foundation

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