WEST ORANGE, NJ - Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ-10) toured Kessler Foundation on Wednesday to learn about its rehabilitation research to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“We are honored to have Congressman Payne join us to see how our work changes the lives of people with disabilities,” said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. “Through our research, individuals with paralysis have taken their first steps. People with brain injury and multiple sclerosis are improving their thinking, learning and memory so they can participate in more of the daily activities that we are fortunate enough to enjoy. Stroke survivors are improving their mobility and visual perception so they can be more independent and active in their communities.” 

Chris Tagatac, who was paralyzed in July 2011, demonstrated Ekso—a robotic, battery-powered exoskeleton that enables wheelchair users to stand and walk. The Foundation was the first facility in the U.S. to report research results for Ekso. Rep. Payne, Jr. also saw the Lokomat—a robotic device in which individuals are harnessed over a treadmill as robotics move their legs in a simulated walking pattern. The goal of the repetitive exercise is to retrain the muscles needed to walk while preventing secondary complications of paralysis, including decreased bone density and chronic pain. 

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In addition, Rep. Payne, Jr. toured the Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation. The Foundation is now one of the only free-standing research facilities in the U.S. with an imaging center dedicated solely to research. The Neuroimaging Center is designed to accelerate the rate of research discoveries and expand collaborations. 

“The work Kessler Foundation is doing to help rehabilitate those who have suffered traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries is simply incredible,” said Rep. Payne, Jr. “I was pleased to see for myself the research being conducted and the innovative technology Kessler Foundation is studying to help individuals who have suffered so much get back to their families and return to their daily lives. Kessler Foundation plays an instrumental role not only in our community but all across the globe, and in my capacity, I will continue to do everything I can to support their great work.” 

 Kessler Foundation is actively seeking individuals with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis, as well as people without disabilities, to participate in research studies. A new study is recruiting individuals from the Newark, N.J. area who have recently had a stroke. For more information, email inforesearch@KesslerFoundation.org or call 973-324-8362.