to Universal Institute Inc.; a place like no other. Jerry and
Lisa Lasso founded Universal Institute in 1989. I met Jerry and
Lisa during a wave of change in the rehabilitation industry that
threatened to decimate the industry and leave disabled citizens
with little opportunity for care and no choices. Lisa, Jerry and
I became business partners and refocused the company to weather
the storm and emerged as a leading rehabilitation program,
offering outpatient rehabilitation and residential services to
individuals with acquired brain or spinal cord injuries,
developmental disabilities and other neurological conditions.
The history and philosophy of Universal Institute is directly
related to that of its founder Jerry Lasso. Jerry was disabled
as the result of auto accident. He was classified as a
paraplegic and like so many others in his situation told by the
experts not to expect much out of life. Jerry began a quest to
prove the so-called experts wrong and in the process founded
Universal Institute and revolutionized the rehabilitation
industry. No longer would the disabled individuals receiving
rehabilitation be classified as "patients"; the term "client"
was introduced. Clients would not be segregated into cookie
cutter rehabilitation programs; they would have significant
involvement in their own rehabilitation plans and receive
services in an open friendly environment not the basement of a
hospital or nursing home. The concept of customer service was
introduced to an industry built around an old model where the
individual came last. At Universal Institute the client would
always come first; each and every decision would be based upon
this philosophy. This is the philosophy that the company was
built upon and it shall always remain out guiding light.
Today, Universal Institute offers rehabilitation therapy in
every discipline including, physical therapy, occupational
therapy, speech therapy and cognitive therapy. We provide
computer training, job coaching, community outings and a
multitude of other services designed to integrate individuals
into the community. Clients requiring special living conditions
can now move to one of our beautiful residential facilities. The
residences that we operate are large, fully accessible and
located in the most upscale neighborhoods of New Jersey. Our
philosophy is simple, "If we wouldn't live there why should
I encourage you to research our program, call for more
information and come in for a visit. Come talk to our staff and
clients and see why this is the program for you. Oh and by the
way, Gene Pavolick, a client, shot all the video and digital
pictures and collaborated with Intara's staff to help design
this web site. Jerry would always say, "Let's focus on the
ability not the disability," if you share this philosophy come
I look forward to meeting you in person and hope that we here
at Universal Institute Inc. can help make a difference in your
Universal Institute, Inc.
Thank you for choosing the Universal Institute, Inc. web site.
My name is Lisa Lasso and I am one of the founders of Universal
Institute, Inc. In 1980, my husband, Jerry was rendered a
paraplegic. From that point forward, his entire life would
change before him. Luckily, Jerry was not the type of person
that would take "no" for an answer and he began a quest of
searching for the type of rehab he needed, not what he was
subjected to. He wanted to have a say in his rehab programs and
that the more intense the program, the better off he was.
Unfortunately, this type of program did not exist so therefore
he was going to design it himself. With a lot of people telling
him "you'll never be able to do it", Universal Institute, Inc.
opened it's doors in 1989.
Universal Institute, Inc. started out treating primarily
spinal cord injury clients. With all the changed that have taken
place in the rehabilitation industry, we have greatly expanded
our programs to accommodate these needs. We now have a
residential program in place where we provide housing for over
50 clients. Our residential clients live in beautiful homes
located in very upscale neighborhoods. Homes that I am proud to
say I would live in myself.
On January 26, 2003, my husband Jerry suddenly passed away.
He is greatly missed not only by me and our children, but also
by so many disabled people whose lives he touched. He had become
a huge crusader for disabled people and fought constantly for
their rights. Living with someone who was disabled for so many
years has taught me so much about rehab and its perspective from
a disabled person's point of view. I vow to continue to carry
out this legacy that Jerry left and provide our clients with the
best possible therapy offered in an upbeat and positive
environment. Jerry was always very positive and he truly enjoyed
every moment of his life. He lived every day as if it was his
Please feel free to call us or just come on by for a visit.
Our friendly staff will help you and answer all the questions
you might have. Come and join our "Universal" family, we would
love to show you the way!
Universal Institute, Inc.