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Overview of Craig Hospital

Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado is world renowned as a premier center for specialty rehabilitation and research for people with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

Craig Hospital is a 93-bed, private, not-for-profit, free-standing long term acute care and rehabilitation hospital that provides a comprehensive system of inpatient and outpatient medical care, rehabilitation, neurosurgical rehabilitative care, and long-term follow up services. Half of Craig's patients come from outside of Colorado, and in 2010 the hospital treated patients from 48 states and several foreign countries. At any given time, the staff at Craig treat approximately 50-55 inpatients with spinal cord injury, 25-30 with traumatic brain injury, and 50-60 outpatients. Craig provides housing for out-of-state families and outpatients, including the first 30 days free for families of new inpatients.

Craig Hospital is designated by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR) as a Model System Center for both spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. Craig is also the NIDRR National Statistical TBI database for the other model system centers (2006-2011). Craig has been ranked in the top Ten Rehabilitation Hospitals in the nation for 24 consecutive years by U.S. and World Report since the rankings began in 1990. Craig has a remarkable atmosphere and culture that is casual but professional, active and upbeat.

System of Care

The hospital's comprehensive system of care begins at the onset of injury, early long term acute care, initial rehabilitation, outpatient services, and can assist through a lifetime of follow-up care. Unique sharing arrangements with the Denver area's leading trauma facilities and consultants enable the hospital to offer a full range of clinical and support services. Craig coordinates land and air medical transportation to the hospital as necessary. As a long term acute care and rehabilitation hospital, Craig can accept newly injured patients. With early intervention, our team can prevent complications and make pivotal decisions about medical and rehabilitative interventions.

Interdisciplinary Approach

Each patient and family has a consistent interdisciplinary treatment team of professionals that includes the physician, nurses, physical therapist, occupational therapist, patient and family service counselor, therapeutic recreation specialist, psychologist, dietitian, pharmacist, and when necessary, speech and language pathologist, neuropsychologist, respiratory therapist, and others. The team meets regularly with the patient and family to set goals, develop treatment plans, review progress, and coordinate services needed at home following discharge. Craig provides a highly individualized and personal approach to treatment, focusing on the patient's physical, cognitive, and psychological well-being. Craig sets high expectations for patient participation in therapy and helps patients set high expectations for themselves.

Community Focus

Craig Hospital is located in beautiful Colorado, where the sun shines more than 300 days per year and the low humidity allows many of our therapies and activities to be held outdoors. For example, our therapists regularly take patients into the community and the mountains for valuable, real-life learning experiences, such as navigating streets, rough terrain, and public buildings, and interacting with the public, etc. Therapeutic recreation specialists also help patients develop lifelong leisure pursuits and activities. Rehabilitation is serious, but keeping fun in the process helps our patients stay motivated and active following injury. Englewood is a southern suburb of Denver, and has been described as "feeling like a small town within a big city".

Powerful Peer Group

One of the most important benefits of Craig Hospital is the opportunity for patients with similar ages, backgrounds, and injuries to teach, encourage, and support one another. At any given time, Craig has approximately 50-55 inpatients with SCI, and 25-30 inpatients with TBI. Families also learn from each other and form supportive relationships. This interactive education among peer groups significantly supplements what patients and families learn from the treatment staff, and is an extremely valuable benefit of specialized rehabilitation. Graduates of Craig and their families consistently credit some of their success to what other patients and families taught them, and friendships developed at Craig often last for life.

Family Involvement

Craig has always believed that family members are important to a patient's rehabilitation, and we have designated staff with relatively small caseloads to assist families. Counselors assist families with their adjustment to injury, understanding insurance policies, application for public benefits, and discharge planning. Craig has no restrictions on visiting hours- families are encouraged to attend therapies and be part of the team. To underscore our commitment to families, Craig offers 30 free days of apartment housing close by during initial inpatient rehabilitation. Longer stays can be arranged at a low cost.

Patient and Family Education

Patient and family education are highly emphasized. Craig has produced a vast library of educational resources available only to our patients and families, including SCI and TBI textbooks, 35 on-demand videos, 320 master tapes, and three dozen patient education handouts, as well as patient and family education groups. Craig Hospital is committed to providing a culturally sensitive working and patient environment. The hospital provides interpreter and language assistive services to patients and families. Education materials may be available in the patient's preferred written or verbal language. Craig Hospital staff receives training in cultural competency. Part of Craig Hospital's caring environment is its sensitivity to the specific needs of our patients, families, and staff.

Communication is a key component of our programs. Regular conferences involving the patient, family members, physician, treatment team, and insurance representatives are a standard practice. We encourage active involvement from the patient's case manager and insurance representatives during the rehabilitation and discharge process, and we provide ongoing written and verbal updates and documentation throughout the patient's treatment.

Inpatient and Outpatient

Patients typically stay in the inpatient program two to four months. Length of stay is individualized based on diagnosis, severity of injury, rate of progress, and possible complications. Initial rehabilitation often involves a period of transitional living where patients and families live together and learn their care prior to discharge. The experience in our state-of-the-art transitional suites helps patients and families to go home prepared and confident.
Although almost all of our patients return home after discharge, life with a spinal cord or traumatic brain injury may require long-term follow-up services. Craig provides periodic consultations, clinic checks, comprehensive re-evaluations, and ongoing educational support for our former patients and their families. Through decades of research, we understand the long-term needs and treatments associated with aging with a disability. We also can help patients update equipment, and our rehabilitation engineering department can customize equipment not available commercially.

Staff Longevity

Craig is highly respected for its staff longevity. The long tenure of staff is a tribute to Craig's leadership, and results in remarkable expertise and quality services. Department Directors average 19 years at Craig, Craig's seven attending physicians average 14 years at Craig, therapists average 13 years at Craig, and nurses average 9 years at Craig. Patients and families report 96% good to excellent satisfaction with their Craig experience.

Clinical Outcomes

Craig Hospital’s functional patient outcomes are superior in comparison with almost every national average in the most important measures of rehabilitation outcomes. On average, Craig graduates are more dependent when they are admitted, make greater functional gains during their initial treatment, are discharged home at higher rates, return to work or school in greater numbers, are more functionally independent and require less attendant care, have fewer re-hospitalizations, have higher levels of community re-integration and satisfaction with life, and have higher earning power than their national peer group treated in other rehabilitation programs. For a summary and detail of our patient successes, see our Outcomes section.


The hospital's large research department has been conducting spinal cord injury and brain injury research for decades, and along with clinicians have published textbooks and numerous articles that are recognized as key resources in the medical and rehabilitation literature. More recently Craig's Center for Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research has begun pioneering cutting edge neuroscience research toward restorative therapies for central nervous system injuries. Craig is collaborating with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden on stem cell research in animals. Several other medication trials are also underway.

Craig Hospital and Craig Hospital Foundation are each tax exempt under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Craig Hospital Programs and Services

  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Rehabilitation
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Rehabilitation
  • Combination SCI/TBI Rehabilitation
  • Ventilator-Dependent and Weaning Programs
  • Rehabilitative Neurosurgery
  • Follow-up Re-evaluations
  • First-Time Outpatient Evaluations
  • Clinical and Neuroscience Research
  • Craig Hospital Foundation

Customized Specialty SCI & TBI Services

  • adaptive technology
  • attendant care training
  • chaplain and worship services
  • daily living skills and personal care
  • driver's training
  • general health and wellness promotion
  • medication management counseling by pharmacist
  • neuroscience laboratory
  • personalized equipment coordination
  • rehabilitation engineer and workshop
  • school tutoring
  • sexuality, intimacy, and fertility counseling
  • specialized surgical consultations
  • specialty clinics dedicated to posture, skin, wheelchair training, and infectious disease
  • stress management


Because of Craig's expertise and specialization, large patient peer group, treatment philosophies, longevity of staff, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, cutting edge research, family-friendly atmosphere, and the climate of Colorado, the staff at Craig believe they offer the finest rehabilitation programs anywhere, and are proud of what their patient graduates have been able to accomplish in their lives following injury.