Dr. Hart Recognized for Bettering Lives of People with Brain Injury

Tessa Hart, PhD

Tessa Hart, PhD

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) has recognized Tessa Hart, Ph.D., an institute scientist at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, as the recipient of the 2017 William Fields Caveness Award.

Each year, the William Fields Caveness Award is presented by BIAA in recognition of an individual who, through research on both a national and international level, has made outstanding contributions to bettering the lives of people with brain injury. The award was presented at the American Congress of Rehabilitative Medication (ACRM) annual conference, which was held October. 23-28 in Atlanta. Continue Reading


MRRI advances neurorehabilitation with innovative technologies

The emergence of new technologies has added fascinating new dimensions to MRRI’s research in translational neurorehabilitation. Using virtual reality in the treatment of phantom limb pain, noninvasive brain stimulation to improve stroke patients’ motor deficits, and iPhone apps to track concussion symptoms after a sports injury are some of the ways in which MRRI researchers are using tech in their work. Here’s an overview of the ways in which researchers Laurel Buxbaum, Amanda Rabinowitz, and Shailesh Kantak are using tech to push neurorehabilitation research into the future. Continue Reading



Rehabilitation Science Lecture Series Launched

This year, the newly launched Shrier Family Topics in Rehabilitation Science Lecture Series will enable MossRehab’s dedicated physicians, nurses, therapists, research scientists and staff to enhance care through the practical application of translational research.

Shrier's with MRRI Scientists

Marc and Nancy Shrier attended the most recent installment of the Shrier Family Topics in Rehabilitation Science Lecture Series with (far left, John Whyte, MD, PhD, founding Director of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI) and speaker speaker Steve Jax, PhD, Institute Scientist, MRRI.)

Thanks to a generous gift from long-time MossRehab and Einstein Healthcare Network champions, Nancy and Marc Shrier, clinicians will be able to share more widely the innovative research and pioneering rehabilitation technologies they are developing at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI). Devoted to improving the lives of individuals with neurological disabilities through research, MRRI is impacting rehabilitation therapies around the globe. Continue Reading


Rabinowitz Co-authors Study on Long-Term Effects of Concussion

Amanda Rabinowitz, PhD, director of MRRI’s Brain Injury Neuropsychology Lab, along with John Whyte, PhD, MD, and collaborators at University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, contributed to a recently published study looking at the long-term effects of participation in high school football.

Amanda Rabinowitz, PhD

The study appeared in the journal JAMA Neurology. It was based on data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS), which has followed a random sample of Wisconsin class of 1957 high school graduates.

In a recent column in Scientific American, the study’s authors describe their results:

“We were surprised to find that playing high school football did not have a statistically significant harmful effect on later-life cognition and mental health in this sample. Moreover, it did not have an effect on anxiety, anger, hostility, or alcohol abuse later in life.” Continue Reading


MRRI Scientists to Visit University College London

Gabriella Vigliocco imageAs a result of a Global Engagement Grant awarded to Gabriella Vigliocco, PhD, of University College London (UCL), Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute scientists will visit UCL next year for a workshop to discuss future collaborative research possibilities in the domains of language and action.

For several weeks a year, Professor Vigliocco is a “Scientist in Residence” at MRRI, where she collaborates regularly with researchers in the language and action domains. This grant will further enhance close collaboration between the two institutions.

Dr. Vigliocco is professor of psychology at University College London, where she directs the Language and Cognition Laboratory.


MRRI Scientist Studies How the Brain Processes Language to Learn about Stroke

Edward Wlotko, PhD, has been studying how the brain processes language since he was an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. And his interest in language comprehension—particularly how the two hemispheres interact to make that happen—deepened in graduate school, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, he devoted his dissertation work to understanding the differences in how language is processed by each hemisphere of the brain, the two sides working separately and in tandem.

Edward Wlotko, PhD

Before coming to Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, Dr. Wlotko completed two post-docs, one at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, the other at Tufts University.

“In my first post-doc,” says Wlotko, “I studied language in the aging brain. At Tufts, I used neuroimaging to study college-aged adults’ language comprehension. So when I got to MRRI I wanted to combine and extend these areas of research from my past work.”

Now, as director of the MRRI Cognitive Neurophysiology and Neuropsychology Lab, Wlotko is trying to further understand how language works in healthy brains to ultimately help problems with language caused by stroke. For example, mapping what facets of language comprehension and production are governed by the two sides of the brain will provide clues to the kind of language or communication difficulties someone might experience after a left vs a right hemisphere stroke. Wlotko believes it is important to approach this question from both angles: Learning about the healthy brain helps researchers understand what happens in the damaged brain—and learning about what’s going on during stroke helps researchers understand more about the healthy brain. Continue Reading


MRRI Testing Medication’s Effect on Memory in Brain Injury Patients

People with traumatic brain injuries frequently face problems with everyday memory function – an issue that can limit their recovery.  Tessa Hart, PhD, director of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute’s Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Research Laboratory, is contributing to research that may lead to improved memory in those people.

As part of a four-site study, Dr. Hart’s lab is testing whether the medication donepezil, which is used to treat dementia in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, can help with memory function in TBI patients. Donepezil is approved by the FDA and is known to be safe, with minimal side effects.

In this video, Dr. Hart provides more information on the study, which is currently recruiting additional research subjects. If you are interested in participating in the study, please call 215-663-6432.


Postdoctoral research training at MRRI

Former fellows reflect on their experiences in the NIH-funded program

For the past five years Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI) has been the lead site in a postdoctoral research program funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) training grant in translational neurorehabilitation research. Students who qualify for the unique fellowships made possible by this grant are given opportunities to gain exceptional in-depth mentorship and training critical for careers in translational neurorehabilitation research. The training opportunity is offered in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Neurology and Center for Functional Neuroimaging (Penn).

“The three-year fellowship is an apprenticeship model of training designed to offer mentored experience in meeting the challenges of the translational process,” says John Whyte, MD, PhD, principal investigator and director of the post-doctoral research training program, and founding director of MRRI. “Fellows spend most of their time conducting research in the lab of a primary mentor, but typically also select a secondary mentor. In keeping with our goal of promoting translational research, if a fellow’s primary mentor is largely engaged in basic science, we will encourage that person to have a secondary mentor whose work has more of a clinical focus, and vice versa.” Continue Reading


NIH Grant Aims to Improve Naming in People with Aphasia

Can you recall a time when you couldn’t think of the name for something? Perhaps it was a familiar object you could picture in your mind. The word was “on the tip of your tongue,” but you just couldn’t name it.

Scientists who study language call this experience the tip of the tongue phenomenon. It happens occasionally to people with healthy brains, and it seems to become more prevalent as a part of healthy aging. The phenomenon is more common and persistent for people with aphasia—a disorder arising from brain damage that affects the production or comprehension of spoken, written or gestured speech. Aphasia affects more than one million people in the U.S., most of whom have suffered a left-hemisphere stroke. Continue Reading