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 Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program

The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center features the most advanced treatments available to meet your needs if you have total or partial loss of sensation, movement or function due to spinal cord injury or disease.

Our rehabilitation program helps you regain lost skills or learn to compensate for skills that cannot be recovered. Our goal is for you to reach the highest level of independence and quality of life.

Our Patients

Most of our patients have suffered one of two main types of spinal cord injury:

  • Complete injury – no function below the level of injury, including no sensation or movement (paralysis), with both sides of the body affected
  • Incomplete injury – some movement or sensation below the injury, which may include more function on one side of the body than the other

Spinal cord injuries may be the result of:

  • Birth injuries
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports and recreation injuries
  • Violent acts
  • Diseases (cancer, arthritis, inflammation and infection)

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

Our comprehensive rehabilitative care programs help you live with spinal cord injuries and optimize your abilities and self-sufficiency. There are many other reasons to choose our programs and services:

  • We are one of seven centers that are part of the NeuroRecovery Network – this network uses activity-based therapies, specifically locomotor training. Locomotor training is an innovative treatment based on the ability of the nervous system to learn, or relearn, motor skills.
  • We are the only Spinal Cord Injury Program in Central Ohio that provides the full continuum of care for spinal cord injury patients – from surgery to inpatient rehabilitation to outpatient rehabilitation.
  • Our inpatient length of stay is shorter than the national average.
  • Unlike other programs, our treatment plans address the unique physical, social, psychological, emotional and economical issues that often accompany spinal cord injuries.
  • We are proud that our Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs at Dodd Hall and Outpatient Medical Rehabilitation Programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF recognized our programs as meeting the highest standards in quality, safety and outcome measures, which provide risk-reduction and accountability in our patient care.
  • For 19 consecutive years, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's rehabilitation program has been ranked among the best in the country by U.S.News & World Report.
  • Since The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is an academic medical center, you benefit from innovative research, a depth of medical expertise and the newest technologies and treatment techniques available.

Our Services

This program offers rehabilitation services to help in each phase of your rehabilitation – from services offered in the hospital (known as inpatient services) to those offered after returning home (known as outpatient services). These services offer a continuum of care to help achieve your highest level of recovery.

A team of healthcare professionals with different areas of expertise work together to offer a wide range of rehabilitative services beginning at the time of injury and continuing through rehabilitation and long-term care.

Our services are for all levels of needs:

  • Acute hospitalization (short-term medical treatment, usually in a hospital) rehabilitation
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation (intensive therapies in the hospital)
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation (follow-up therapy services after you have returned home from the hospital or another rehabilitation facility)

Your rehabilitative care may include:

  • Assistive (or Adaptive) technology devices (assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, braces and special computer equipment, and technology) for easier home and work activities
  • Augmentative communication assessment and training to determine communication needs and appropriate aids and techniques
  • Aquatic therapy (rehabilitation exercises performed in a warm water therapeutic pool)
  • Arts therapy (uses the creative process to help patients improve physical skills, thinking skills and emotional well-being)
  • Cognitive therapy (helps with thinking and understanding skills)
  • Functional electrical stimulation (uses low levels of electrical current to stimulate physical or bodily functions lost through paralysis)
  • Locomotor training (LT) (a method of physical therapy where the patient
    is suspended in a harness over a treadmill, while specially-trained therapists move their legs to simulate walking)
  • Botox®, nerve blockade and baclofen pump therapy (to reduce spasticity and tightness in selected muscle groups)
  • Medications for cognitive, communication and motor skill recovery
  • Neurological diagnostic tests (such as CT scan, MRI and EMG)
  • Neuromodulation (the use of neurological pacemakers and other devices to deliver electrical signals, medications and other therapeutic agents precisely into the brain, spinal cord and nervous system)
  • Neuropsychological evaluations (measure concentration, learning and other skills)
  • Pain management (care that alleviates or reduces pain)
  • Rehabilitation psychology (behavioral and psychological treatment for patients and families coping with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability)
  • Occupational therapy (helps patients participate in activities of daily living)
  • Patient education focused on lifestyle adjustments
  • Physical therapy (helps patients improve strength, mobility and fitness)
  • Bioness technology (electrical stimulation medical devices designed to help people gain mobility and function)
  • Saeboflex technology (a hand orthotic that helps maximize arm and hand function following a neurological injury)
  • Serial casting for contracture management (casts are reapplied to stretch and maintain the new lengthened position of hyperactive muscle groups)
  • Advanced splinting (splints applied to wrists, hands, ankles and feet to help lengthen muscle groups and prevent deformity)
  • Optokinetic training (exercises and activities to increase visual field and visual perception)
  • Real world simulations (such as community reentry and independent living apartment)
  • Respiratory therapy (treatment of breathing disorders using respirators or aerosol medications)
  • Return-to-work training
  • Driver training
  • Speech therapy (treatment of speech and communication disorders)
  • Videofluoroscopy, fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation for swallowing, and neuromuscular electrical stimulation to diagnose and treat swallowing disorders
  • Recreational therapy (helps patients engage in recreational and leisure activities to enhance change to community participation and satisfaction)
  • Vision evaluation and vision therapy (therapy for the eyes and brain)
  • Counseling
  • Case management (coordination of inpatient and post-hospital care and services for patients and families)
  • Vestibular therapy (exercise-based program that helps improve balance)

Your Treatment Team

Your personalized treatment care plan is implemented by a team of rehabilitation specialists who include:

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians or physiatrists (specialize in helping people regain body functions lost due to medical conditions or injuries)
  • Neurologists (specialize in disorders of the nervous system)
  • Neurosurgeons (specialize in surgery on the brain and other parts of the nervous system)
  • Neuropsychologists (specialize in the effects that injury or diseases of the brain and spinal cord have on emotions, behavior and learning)
  • Certified rehabilitation nurses (specialize in the care of the chronically ill and injured)
  • Physical therapists (specialize in helping patients achieve maximum strength, balance and mobility)
  • Occupational therapists (specialize in improving patients' ability to complete activities of daily living)
  • Speech-language pathologists (specialize in helping patients improve communication, cognition and swallowing)
  • Recreational therapists (specialize in providing education and community-based interventions to improve patients' physical, mental, social and emotional well being)
  • Respiratory therapists (specialize in assessing and treating breathing disorders)
  • Dietitians (specialize in nutrition and dietetics)
  • Social workers (specialize in the social, emotional and financial needs of families and patients)
  • Case managers (specialize in the coordination of inpatient and post-hospital care and services for patients and families)
  • Rehabilitation engineers (specialize in determining, implementing and training patients on assistive technology devices, such as wheelchairs, special computer workstations and remote control systems)

Care Locations

Additional Specialized Services

Additional Resources

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