Kessler Foundation scientists received two grants from the New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, totaling $345,379. Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, and Jean Lengenfelder, PhD, were awarded pilot study grants for two separate projects aimed at improving the lives of individuals with brain injury.

Dr. Chiaravalloti, director, Centers for Neuropsychology, Neuroscience and Traumatic Brain Research, received a two-year grant of $169,383 for her study titled, “Examining the long-term neurological impact of COVID-19 in traumatic brain injury (TBI).” Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is a collaborating institution. Dr. Chiaravalloti and partners will examine and document the impact of COVID-19 on individuals with pre-existing, moderate-to-severe TBI as compared with previously neurologically healthy individuals.

“The risks of COVID-19 complications may be higher in individuals with moderate-to-severe TBI,” says Dr. Chiaravalloti. “In this pilot study, we will identify participants with and without TBI who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and re-evaluate their cognitive and neurological functioning with annual follow-ups. Doing so will enable us to directly compare the impact of COVID-19 in these two groups,” she explains.

Dr. Lengenfelder, assistant director, Center for Traumatic Brain Injury Research, Kessler Foundation, received a two-year grant of $175,996 for her study titled, “Improving social skills for young people with brain injury,” a critically significant area for the chronic management of disease in youth with brain injury. Dr. Lengenfelder will examine whether a social skills treatment program currently used for individuals with autism spectrum disorder has the potential to improve social skills in young adults with brain injury transitioning to the workforce (ages 15-25).

Dr. Lengenfelder intends to translate the program into a virtual format and adapt the content for maximal learning. “We will evaluate the program delivery and pilot the social skills treatment with individuals with brain injury,” explains Dr. Lengenfelder, adding, “In addition we will examine changes in social skills following the program and evaluate the impact of the treatment on social functioning, employment readiness, and quality of life for young adults with brain injury. By improving their skills and abilities, we anticipate individuals with brain injury may become more independent and experience greater quality of life,” concludes Dr. Lengenfelder.

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, EurekAlert]