Dr. Strober Wins Grant to Study Employment Outcomes in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

Lauren Strober, PhD, of Kessler Foundation extends her investigation of factors influencing employment in persons with multiple sclerosis

East Hanover, NJ – February 6, 2018 – Lauren Strober, PhD, senior research scientist in Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research at Kessler Foundation, was awarded a pilot grant from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) for $44,000. Through this grant, Dr. Strober will explore ways to address the high rate of unemployment among individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune degenerative disease of the central nervous system associated with significant behavioral and emotional sequelae.

MS, the leading cause of disability in working-age adults, has a substantial negative impact on quality of life. The employment rate declines from 90% to 20% to 30% within five years of diagnosis, and only 35% of individuals with documented MS report normal social and lifestyle activities. This one-year project, which is titled SEMS Project: Staying Employed with Multiple Sclerosis, will test the efficacy of a comprehensive group intervention that addresses the factors most associated with an individual’s decision to leave the workforce, such as wellness, fatigue, cognition, anxiety, depression, and self-efficacy.

“Given the early ages in which MS is diagnosed, as well as the unpredictability of disease, assisting individuals with maintaining their employment is a priority,” explained Dr. Strober. “These disease- and person-specific factors interfere significantly with a person's ability to participate fully in the community and the workplace. By intervening at an early stage, and incorporating interventions aimed at improving symptoms that are most responsible for work difficulties, we can help people with MS improve quality of life and keep them engaged in work and social activities."

Core intervention sessions will span over the course of 12 weeks. Six of those 12 weeks will be dedicated to a MS Wellness protocol, which is presently conducted with patients at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, aimed to improve quality of life, while the other 6 weeks will be dedicated to a fatigue management program called FACETS.  Based on baseline testing prior to the intervention, participants may qualify for up to three additional intervention sessions. Additional interventions include: a processing speed intervention, a memory-training intervention, and the Unified Protocol, which is a cognitive-behavioral intervention intended to broaden the participant’s understanding of emotions and provide ways to modify maladaptive responses and behaviors. 

About MS Research at Kessler Foundation:

Kessler Foundation's cognitive rehabilitation research in MS is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, National MS Society, Consortium of MS Centers, the Patterson Trust, Biogen Idec, Hearst Foundations, the International Progressive MS Alliance, and Kessler Foundation. Under the leadership of John DeLuca, PhD, senior VP for Research & Training, and Nancy Chiaravalloti, PhD, director of Neuropsychology & Neuroscience Research, scientists have made important contributions to the knowledge of cognitive decline in MS and developed new treatments. Clinical studies span new learning, memory, executive function, attention and processing speed, cognitive reserve, emotional processing, employment and cognitive fatigue. Research tools include innovative applications of neuroimaging, mobile devices, and virtual reality. Neuroimaging studies are conducted at the research-dedicated Rocco Ortenzio Neuroimaging Center at Kessler Foundation. Kessler researchers and clinicians have faculty appointments in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

For more information, or to enroll in a study, please contact our Research Recruitment Specialist: researchstudies@kesslerfoundation.org.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. Learn more by visiting http://www.KesslerFoundation.org.

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Contacts

Carolann Murphy, PA; 973-324-8382; CMurphy@KesslerFoundation.org 
Laura Viglione, MS; 973-323-3675; LViglione@KesslerFoundation.org