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Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Our renowned SCI rehab blends compassion and creativity.

Each year, about 12,500 Americans are newly diagnosed with a spinal cord injury (SCI).* Many of these people are young and active. They have jobs and hobbies and family responsibilities. And then, quite suddenly, everything changes.

While neuro rehab can’t reverse permanent spinal cord damage, it can help people who have SCI lead the fullest life possible. For example, Rehab Without Walls ® helps our patients improve mobility, learn how to use adaptive equipment and manage the emotional challenges of their new life.

A comprehensive approach to recovery is particularly important for patients who have both a spinal cord injury and a brain injury, because limitations from one condition can affect how we address the other condition.

Our approach centers on quality of life

Therapist with man doing gait trainingOur approach combines science, compassion and creativity to deliver the best results for each patient. Rehab Without Walls is unique and successful for a few main reasons:

Functional and personal goals

In addition to typical goals of spinal cord rehab, we work with the patient and family to establish more personal goals. Our experience and clinical studies agree that this approach keeps patients more motivated and engaged in therapy.

For example, functional goals might include improving standing balance and multi-limb coordination.

By contrast, personal goals might include traveling to Europe within five years.

Because spinal cord injury often occurs in younger people, this approach is particularly beneficial for patients who want to be as active as possible well into the future. Our real success lies in what comes months and years after therapy. That’s why we say we’re focused on “durable outcomes.”

Many specialties, one team

Because spinal cord injury can affect so many parts of the body, we think it’s important for multiple specialties to work together. A team approach is also more efficient. For example, an occupational therapist (OT) and physical therapist (PT) might both go to the workplace with a patient. The OT will focus on navigating environmental barriers safely, while the PT will focus on coordination.

A physician oversees all team members. A clinical coordinator keeps everyone on the team aligned and also serves as the main point of contact for the patient’s family during the course of treatment.

Family member education and involvement

Like all catastrophic illnesses and injuries, spinal cord injury has a ripple effect on the survivor’s family.

That’s why we help both the patient and family develop coping strategies to adjust to their new reality. The health of the family and the health of the client are so interconnected that both need to be a part of the treatment process.

Where we provide spinal cord injury rehabilitation

Father teaching son to cook in kitchenTo meet the needs of patients throughout the post-acute care continuum, we have three types of care settings:

  • Residential facilities (adults) – Our residential facilities helps smooth the transition from hospital to home. More about residential rehab.
  • Home and community (adults and children) – With this approach, therapy takes place in the home, at the workplace, in school or elsewhere in the patient’s community. More about home and community rehab.
  • Outpatient neuro rehab (adults and children) – In selected locations, we offer both individual and group sessions in fully equipped rehabilitation centers. Learn more about outpatient neuro rehab.

*National SCI Statistical Center, https://www.nscisc.uab.edu

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