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Inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Craig Hospital offers an individualized, comprehensive, and family-oriented approach in their inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation and treatment program. With a highly specialized and experienced staff, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, proven treatment methods, a large group of patients with similar injuries, and a positive and caring attitude that permeates the hospital, Craig offers a powerful community of hope and possibilities. Patients, families, insurance executives and physicians who are familiar with many other spinal cord injury rehabilitation programs consistently say that Craig is the finest spinal cord injury rehabilitation center in the world.

Patients we Serve. We serve patients with all levels and severity of spinal cord injury. Each year we treat approximately 300 individuals with spinal cord injury, and at any given time we are treating between 50-55 inpatient spinal cord injured individuals. Craig also has one of the largest ventilator-dependent and weaning spinal cord injury programs in the country.

The average age of our spinal cord injured patients is 38 and the most common age range is 18-25 (we treat adult patients who are 15-16 years of age or older). Following are some other statistics:

  • 75% of our patients are male.
  • 50% of our patients' injuries are motor vehicle-related.
  • 17% of our patients were injured in falls, and 10% in sports. Diving is the leading cause of sports injuries.
  • Approximately 55% of our patients have ASIA "incomplete" injuries, meaning there is motor and/or sensory sparing below the level of the injury at the time of admission.
  • The average time from the date of injury to admission to Craig is 28 days (the range is seven days to 111 days), and the length of stay in inpatient rehabilitation ranges from two to four months, depending on level of injury and medical complications.
  • Approximately 90% of our patients return home.
  • 40% of our patients are engaged in some type of employment or school at one year post injury.

Craig Hospital's inpatient spinal cord injury rehabilitation program not only serves patients who are newly-injured, but may also serve those who are experiencing a late onset complication of spinal cord injury and require a period of inpatient hospitalization. Such complications may include skin surgery, neurosurgery or other medical/surgical procedures.

Philosophy. Initial spinal cord injury treatment and rehabilitation focuses on aggressively working with patients physically and psychologically, so that in a short period of time patients can maximize their neurological recovery and general health, be educated about all aspects of their injury and care, and be functionally able to return home as independent and productive as possible, prepared to resume their lives. Our pervasive philosophy for patients and families is that "although your life has significantly changed, you still can go back into the world and have a good life, and we will help show you how." Thousands of our graduate patients and families from over four decades have told us that this is true, and many graduates are integrated into our educational programs to inspire and instruct those who are newly injured.

Patient ExpectationsIn order for patients to get the most out of their rehabilitation program it is necessary to work very hard, and high expectations for patient participation are set from admission thru discharge. Patients need to understand that the rehabilitation is different from the ICU medical model where patients are taken care of, and that the rehabilitation process is to teach patients and families to take care of themselves. Patients are encouraged to have input into their program and schedule, but it is expected that patients will follow physician and treatment orders, adhere to treatment schedules, comply with educational requirements, participate in outings, and take the fullest advantage of all the resources Craig has to offer.

Teams. Craig's spinal cord injury rehabilitation program is organized by interdisciplinary treatment teams led by our own physicians, with a single physician management model. These core teams are comprised of the patient, his or her family, the physician, and a representative from nursing, nursing education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation, patient and family service counseling, clinical psychology, dietary, equipment coordination. When necessary, representatives from respiratory therapy, speech/language pathology, and other consultants and treatment professionals who specialize in SCI also are included on the team. Additionally, patients may have others involved on their rehabilitation team - such as insurance claims adjusters, case managers, attorneys and employers.

Patient Rooms. Patients with spinal cord injury are typically admitted to Craig’s West Building, to a semi-private room, either alone or with a roommate, based on availability, gender, medical condition, clinical needs, and team assignments. Sharing a room with others is encouraged in rehabilitation to promote socialization and peer support. During the course of rehabilitation, staff will try to accommodate individual patient and family requests for room changes as necessary, but patients are not guaranteed private rooms. At some point in patients’ rehabilitation programs, patients may be transferred to the rooms in the East Building, based on clinical needs and availability. Patients are encouraged to eat their meals in the cafeterias on the floors or in the main basement cafeteria, not in their rooms. Socialization at meal time is an important component of the program.

Sub-Specialty Services. In addition to the specialized core spinal cord injury services provided by treatment team members, Craig offers a wide variety of what we call "sub-specialized" services as needed to meet the individual needs of patients. Some of these sub-specialty services include:

  • Adaptive equipment training (voice-activated computer, environmental control, emergency call systems, etc.)
  • Airline travel training
  • Attendant care training
  • Closed circuit educational T.V. in patient rooms
  • Community re-entry classes
  • Complementary medicine - acupuncture, massage
  • Dental services on-site
  • Dermatology clinic
  • Driver's training, adaptation, car and van clinics
  • General health promotion
  • Hand surgeries and bracing
  • Home modification consultation
  • Infectious disease clinic
  • Neurophysiology laboratory
  • Neurosurgical consultations on-site
  • Orthopedic clinic
  • Orthotics clinic
  • Pain clinic
  • Podiatry clinic
  • Rehab engineering workshop
  • Seating and posture clinic
  • Sexual health programs
  • Skin clinic
  • Spasticity clinic
  • Stress management
  • Swimming pool therapy
  • Tutoring for school-age patients
  • Wellness promotion programs
  • Wireless high speed internet service and e-mail access
  • Women's health services and information
  • Vision clinic

Rehabilitation and Research. During the rehabilitation process we inform our patients and families about spinal cord injury research trials that are available at Craig, and also about experimental studies and therapies occurring around the world. We are excited about the developments within the field of spinal cord injury research and about Craig's involvement in cutting-edge research. We hope that researchers and clinicians can solve the mysteries of spinal cord function, injury and regeneration within our lifetime. However, we also want newly- injured patients and families to understand that experimental research and therapies should not replace the basic foundation of initial spinal cord injury rehabilitation by a comprehensive center following injury. Most patients have very limited rehabilitation insurance benefits these days, and it is important for patients to use these benefits wisely to maximize their initial recovery and functional independence. Doing so will help them return home strong and confident, and able to pursue experimental treatments and therapies beyond Craig if they wish.

Family Inclusion. Including the family in spinal cord injury rehabilitation is very important at Craig. Patients' family members are strongly encouraged to live at Craig during at least part of the patient's stay and participate in therapies, educational sessions, regular patient-family conferences and therapeutic outings. Craig has state-of-the-art accessible family apartments on-campus, and special arrangements with a near-by hotel. Craig Hospital provides 30 days of complementary housing for families of newly injured rehabilitation inpatients in the apartments or hotel, after which there is a highly discounted rate. Craig also has patient-family hospital rooms in our East Building where patients and families live together in the later stages of their rehabilitation in preparation for home. There are also times when for therapeutic reasons patients need an an opportunity to be alone to work on independent living skills and psychological adjustment. Families are strongly encouraged to read all of our spinal cord injury educational material, view the in-house training videotapes in patient rooms, attend nursing and other educational sessions, participate in therapy, etc. - and in general, learn as much as they can during the initial rehabilitation process. Craig has a very family-friendly environment, with multiple family relaxation and hospitality areas.

For more information about the Inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation program, please call our Admissions Department at 303-789-8344 or Spinal Cord Injury Admission Process