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Eric LeGrand Joins Team Kessler for 24-Hour Walk to Beat Paralysis

Kessler Institute hosts Walk to Victory Over Paralysis, a 24-hour fundraising and awareness event, this weekend.

Eric LeGrand (Patch file photo)
Eric LeGrand (Patch file photo)
Eric LeGrand will join Team Kessler this weekend for Walk to Victory Over Paralysis, a 24-hour fundraising and awareness event in West Orange.

Kessler Foundation and Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, part of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation’s NeuroRecovery Network, will participate in the event from 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday.

Walk to Victory over Paralysis events will be held simultaneously at eight rehabilitation centers and fitness and wellness facilities nationwide. Kessler will host the local event at its facilities at 1199 Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange. 

In addition to the 24-hour walk, other sites in the NRN are also supporting with fundraising efforts. The NRN goal is $30,000 at each center and fitness facility nationwide for a grand total of $330,000.
 
LeGrand, the former Rutgers football player who is paralyzed as the result of a spinal cord injury he sustained during a game against Army in October 2010, will join Team Kessler. 

LeGrand, who began his rehabilitation at Kessler Institute, continues his therapy program three days a week. He also participates in the NRN’s locomotor training program at Kessler, where he is harnessed over a treadmill while therapists move his legs in a walking motion in an effort to retrain his nervous system. 

In therapy, he is regaining balance and strength. Since his injury, LeGrand graduated from Rutgers University and has become an author, motivational speaker, sports radio broadcaster and retired player of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We are very excited to be a part of the Walk to Victory over Paralysis,” said Sandra “Buffy” Wojciehowski, Team Kessler Captain, clinical specialist in the Outpatient SCI department and clinical supervisor for the NRN at Kessler Institute and a therapist for SCI Research at Kessler Foundation. 

“Every day, we meet amazing individuals whose lives were changed by a sudden paralyzing injury or illness. We work to help them regain mobility and make research discoveries that enable them to lead to better, healthier lives. The Walk to Victory will help to showcase the great strides our participants are making in their journey to recovery and raise funds to help more people take their first steps.”

Kessler Foundation conducts SCI rehabilitation research to regain mobility and prevent secondary complications in individuals with paralysis. That research is translated to patient care at Kessler Institute, the nation’s largest single rehabilitation hospital. 

Through its partnership, Kessler studies the effects of robotic devices, wheelchair use and propulsion, electrical stimulation, locomotor training and other rehabilitation techniques after SCI. Kessler is also one of only 14 centers in the country to be designated as a Spinal Cord Injury Model System, which provides significant federally-funded grants to identify and investigate issues to improve the care, treatment and quality of life of persons with SCI.

Originated by the late Christopher Reeve, the NRN develops and expands access to activity-based therapies for people living with spinal cord injuries in order to improve their mobility, regain function, and increase their independence in living.  All of these capabilities represent victories over paralysis.

“Activity-based therapy and exercise is essential for someone who has experienced a spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Susan J. Harkema, NeuroRecovery Network director for the Reeve Foundation, director of Research at Frazier Rehab Institute, professor and Rehabilitation Research director at the University of Louisville Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center and Owsley B. Frazier chairwoman in Clinical Rehabilitation Research. 

“We have so much more information today about recovery that is helping people lead healthier and more functional lives, and improving their overall quality of life.”

Funds raised will bring greater access to new, activity-based therapies for more patients with spinal cord injury.

Funds raised by Team Kessler will be divided between Kessler and the Reeve Foundation. Each center will use the funds for their greatest need, from scholarships for people unable to afford therapy to more or better equipment in the facilities. Visit Team Kessler’s page and make a donation at www.KesslerFoundation.org/TeamKessler.

For a complete list of all participating sites or to donate, please visit the Walk to Victory Over Paralysis website at:www.ChristopherReeve.org/Victory2014.

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