Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

If you have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI), you probably have many concerns and questions about your quality of life and what comes next. At the University of Michigan’s Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program, our multidisciplinary team of experts provides the map to get you on the path to realizing your goals by optimizing your recovery, functioning and health. We are recognized and funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research as one of only 14 Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems of Care in the country.

The Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems was established in 1970 to improve care and outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries. The centers selected provide multidisciplinary rehabilitation care from emergency services to rehabilitation and re-entry into full community life. As a SCI Model System, we offer outstanding clinical services while supporting cutting-edge research and ongoing education that keeps the topic of spinal cord injury in the forefront of health care.

Our comprehensive services for spinal cord rehabilitation include:

  • Cutting-edge diagnostic testing, including MRI, CAT scan, nerve function testing, and bladder and bowel function testing
  • Social workers to help you and your family prepare for life following inpatient rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation psychologists and neuropsychologists to address emotional issues, including depression, and to identify cognitive problems
  • Occupational therapy, including independent living skills training
  • Physical therapy to increase strength and mobility, relieve pain, and restore function, plus access to the latest rehabilitation equipment, some not widely available.
  • The Spine Surgery Program for those whose injuries require surgical intervention
  • Rehabilitation engineers on staff, who use the latest technological developments to maximize independence
  • Interactive computer therapy
  • Assistance in identifying community resources
  • Home and work assessments
  • Speech therapy for those experiencing cognitive and / or communication issues
  • The Michigan Bowel Control Program
  • Ventilator equipment, training and care
  • Therapeutic recreation to determine leisure needs, abilities, and interests
  • Inpatient Independent Living classes run by Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy with peer mentors from the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living
  • Vocational counseling (for outpatients) by our rehabilitation counselor

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Approximately 56% of individuals with spinal cord injuries (average for all centers is 37%) enter our system through our Emergency Adult and Pediatric Services, which serves as a major gateway to the comprehensive services and facilities of the University of Michigan Health System. Upon arrival, patients are immediately evaluated by a nurse and, according to medical status, are then triaged to the most appropriate, specific treatment areas. Being designated as a Level I Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center, we are a crucial resource for the state of Michigan and neighboring states.

Early rehabilitation services begin when a patient’s medical condition no longer warrants care in the ICU and a transfer is possible to an acute care unit or directly to a rehabilitation unit. Adults who are medically and surgically stable and ready to begin the comprehensive, goal-oriented rehabilitation process, transfer to either the University Hospital’s 32-bed Adult Rehabilitation Unit, which includes 15 beds for SCI patients and 2 beds for SCI patients needing ventilator support. Within 24 hours of admission, members of the multidisciplinary rehabilitation team conduct an initial goal-setting conference. The team incorporates the goals into a plan of care, and sets a tentative discharge date.

Inpatient rehabilitation is based on the collaboration of subspecialties uniquely trained and experienced in working with patients spinal cord injury, including occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, dieticians, independent living specialists, plastic surgeons, urologists, wheelchair seating specialists, rehab engineers and social workers.  This is to ensure not only that our patients get the best care while in at our inpatient program, but also to ensure that, when they go home, they find suitable resources to continue therapy, as necessary.

We also work in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living to support people with disabilities in continuing to live as fully as possible in the community.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

As an outpatient, your first appointment takes place at our cutting-edge MedRehab facility, which specializes in treating people with spinal cord injury. (The facility is conveniently located near the I-94 State Street exit in the Briarwood Mall area. Hours of service are from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and there is free parking and immediate access to the facility.) We provide a comprehensive evaluation, and spend time listening to your issues and concerns, and understanding your goals and needs. We order the necessary imaging tests to understand your neurological and musculoskeletal issues. We then create a full treatment plan that takes all your medical and emotional needs into account.

Cutting-edge therapies include:

  • We have one of the few Lokomat robotic gait-training systems in the state to move the legs and feet of patients with an incomplete spinal cord injury.
  • Our certified hand therapy staff works with patients immediately following injury or surgery, providing therapy to both the hands and upper extremities.
  • Our Wheelchair Seating Service makes equipment recommendations based on patients’ abilities and needs
  • Treatment to facilitate management of neurogenic bowel and bladder

Make an Appointment

For inpatient admission: 734-936-7059 For outpatient appointments with physicians: 734-936-7175 For MedRehab: 734-998-7888   For outpatient Rehabilitation Psychology: 734-936-7051 For spinal cord injury research and education: 734-763-0971