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Program Updates

See you at The PEAK! PEAK Center memberships available

The PEAK Center, Craig’s world-class patient fitness and wellness facility, is exploding with new staff, exciting

Peak Center Staff
PEAK staff Julie Waldie, PT, DPT, Patrick Farrell, and Kaci Young, MCEP, can customize a health and wellness program for youPEAK staff Julie Waldie, PT, DPT, Patrick Farrell, and Kaci Young, MCEP, can customize a health and wellness program for you

programs, daily classes, and creative challenges to help people optimize their health.

Aptly named for Performance, Exercise, Attitude, and Knowledge, the PEAK was created specifically for people with neurologic disabilities who want to optimize their recovery and prevent secondary complications associated with immobility. State-of-the art services, technology, and customized plans are provided in a highly motivated environment after traditional rehabilitation has been completed.

In addition to regular gym membership privileges, the PEAK now offers krank cycle classes, one-on-one personal training with a physical therapist or exercise specialist, pool therapy, functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike classes, adaptive yoga, a Pilates mat class, and cross-training sessions for athletic teams. During personal training, clients have access to Lokomat, RT600 Elliptical, Ekso, Bioness L300 and L300+ (functional stimulation for over-ground walking), the WAVE whole body vibration plate, and aquatic therapy.

Please contact Julie Waldie, PT, DPT, PEAK director, at 303-789-8325 or for more information.

Battery Powered Exoskeleton
Amanda in Ekso at the Aspen Ideas Festival 2011 with Ekso Bionics' CEO, Eythor Bender  PHOTO BY DANIEL BAYER © BERKELEY BIONICS

Ekso arrives at Craig

On March 5, Craig received the first commercial Ekso exoskeleton in the U.S. from Ekso Bionics in Berkeley, Calif.

Ekso (previously called eLEGS™) is a battery-powered, wearable robotics system that can be strapped onto the user over his or her clothing, enabling people with spinal cord injury to stand and walk.

Ekso Bionics and Craig Hospital recently completed a 10-month investigational study of Ekso that involved reciprocal information sharing, learning, training, and definition of clinical protocols. Craig is one of Ekso Bionics’ charter rehabilitation centers.

The system is adjustable and can accommodate most patients who weigh 220 pounds or less and who are between 5’2” and 6’2” in height. Therapists and engineers are in the process of studying the use of Ekso for patients with different levels of spinal cord injury. The unit weighs 45 pounds; however, most of the weight is transferred to the ground rather than to the patient.

Patients at Craig began using the device on March 5. Want more information? Contact Julie Waldie, PT, DPT, at 303-789-8325 or

Chris Chappell - License Plate Assembly Line
Chris Chappell, ’00, Littleton, Colo., a Craig grad and Craig’s graduate relations coordinator, watches the new plates roll off the assembly line in Cañon City, Colo.

Honk if you love these specialty license plates!

License plates featuring Craig Hospital became available for purchase in Colorado in January, and so far

approximately 120 already have been sold! To purchase plates, make a $20 donation to the Craig Hospital Patient Assistance Fund, receive a certificate to take to your local Department of Motor Vehicles office, and pay $50 for the plates. Regular or personalized plates are available. Thanks to Chris Chappell at Craig for making this happen, and to our friends at DMV. For more information or to start the process, call 303-789-8650.

Craig License Plate

Craig Hospital education goes global! Webinars aim to improve knowledge about SCI and TBI

Webinars aim to improve knowledge about SCI and TBI To improve knowledge about spinal cord and brain injuries, Craig Hospital has begun to host webinars for the healthcare community. Healthcare providers can join these online educational sessions from home, work, or just about anywhere in the world where there is a computer and internet access.

Feedback from many former patients indicates that when they are discharged, their doctors and nurses at home may not have the expertise to address unique challenges that can occur after spinal cord or brain injury. These webinars aim to change that, making information about SCI and TBI topics more readily available to healthcare providers across the country. This exciting new platform supports our core value to enhance life quality through advocacy and education. Proceeds from webinar fees directly support Craig’s award-winning SCI Nurse Advice Line.

To learn more about upcoming webinars and to enroll, please visit our webinars page.

Outpatient wellness: Introducing the PEAK Center at Craig

This is a hopeful time in the field of neurologic rehabilitation. People are motivated and empowered to reach their

Patient and Physical Therapist
Cutting-edge technology in Craig’s new PEAK Center includes the Lokomat®Pro (center) and the RT600 FES elliptical trainer.

goals, and health care professionals are committed to determining which inter-ventions at what dosage, combination, and intensity facilitate best long-term outcomes in the realms of health, fitness, and wellness.

At Craig Hospital, we take pride in anticipating and responding to people’s needs. We plan to always be at the forefront of innovation and technology. In this spirit, in September, our physical therapy and outpatient departments are opening a new wellness center for Craig patients and others in the community with neurologic disabilities.

The PEAK Center — aptly named for Performance, Exercise, Attitude, and Knowledge — is designed to provide advanced care for people with neurologic injuries and disease by facilitating neuromuscular recovery, creating lifelong fitness and wellness plans to maintain optimal health, and by empowering individuals with neurologic disabilities to maximize their quality of life through knowledge and activity.

Professionals at Craig have understood for decades that SCI and TBI are lifelong injuries that require the support of an evolving and growing health care system. The continuum of care at Craig Hospital starts with an inpatient rehabilitation stay that provides patients and their families with a strong foundation for coping with these devastating injuries. This care can then be extended into the outpatient system where patients continue working on goals to restore their independence and function. However, after individuals with these types of injuries complete traditional outpatient programs, they often begin searching for programs that allow them to continue working on restoration, fitness, and wellness.

Peak CenterThe PEAK Center was created for individuals with neurologic disabilities who are seeking to optimize their recovery and prevent the secondary complications associated with immobility. State-of-the-art services, technology, and customized treatment plans are provided to clients in a highly motivated environment after traditional rehabilitation services have been completed.

To maximize access, the PEAK Center provides three levels of service, catering to a wide variety of individual physical needs, economic situations, and commitment levels. Individuals with neurologic disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the following three programs:

  • Wellness Membership: Fully adapted fitness center with knowledgeable staff on site to design and provide guidance for fitness programs that are specific to an individual’s abilities and goals
  •  Fitness Classes: Functional electrical stimulation (FES) cycling classes; upper extremity ergometry cycling classes; seated classes focused on strength and conditioning
  • Activity-based Training: One-to-one training utilizing cutting edge technology by staff who specialize in neurologic injury and disease

The PEAK Center utilizes cutting-edge technology including but not limited to: body weight supported treadmill systems and treadmill systems with robotic assistance, functional electrical stimulation (FES) bikes for the upper and lower extremities, upright elliptical training with FES, lower extremity FES systems designed to improve over-ground walking, and whole body vibration.

Along with the physical aspect of recovery, the PEAK Center provides access to massage therapy, education classes, and peer support to promote a healthy lifestyle with balance for mind, body, and spirit. Craig’s therapeutic recreation department also plays a valuable role in achieving this balance by providing PEAK Center members access to amazing recreational activities including white water rafting, SCUBA diving, competitive sports, and handcycling.

The Center was made possible by a generous Craig H. Neilsen Foundation pilot grant and will be sustained by outpatient revenues and memberships.

For membership and other information, please contact Julie Waldie, PT, health and wellness coordinator, at 303-789-8217,; or Heidi Arsenault at 303-789-8494,

Some equipment at the PEAK Center

  • RT600 FES elliptical trainer— provides a great option for helping individuals with very impaired mobility get upright, bear weight, and move using a coordinated pattern; can stimulate up to 10 different muscle groups bilaterally
  • Lokomat®Pro—helps facilitate a normal walking pattern with an augmented feedback system; research indicates the repetitive motion can promote neural recovery, improve circulation, decrease spasticity, and strengthen bones
  • RT300 FES bike—uses functional electrical stimulation to stimulate nerves to produce muscle contractions; promotes cardiopulmonary fitness; rebuilds muscle strength and bulk; improves bone density, blood circulation, intestinal and bladder function, and response to insulin (diabetes); decreases limb spasticity, and improves feelings of well-being
  • Bioness L300—improves locomotion in patients through over-ground walking training

Craig demos eLEGS™

Craig demos eLEGS
Craig grad Amanda Boxtel, ’92, Basalt, Colo., demonstrates eLEGS™

In July, Craig hosted a live presentation today of eLEGS™, a bionic and wearable robot — or exoskeleton — that powers those with lower-extremity paralysis or weakness up and gets them standing and walking again. The device, developed by Berkeley Bionics, was demonstrated by Colorado resident Amanda Boxtel, ’92, who came to Craig Hospital as a patient 19 years ago after a skiing injury caused paraplegia.

At the event, Berkeley Bionics’ CEO, Eythor Bender, announced that Craig will be one of 10 top rehabilitation centers in the nation to participate in eLEGS™ investigational studies. The studies will entail reciprocal information sharing and learning, and the definition of clinical protocols, as the company prepares to introduce eLEGS™ to the market in early 2012. Craig Hospital will also become one of the first eLEGS™ Centers in the world, conducting ongoing research and offering the device for the rehabilitation of their patients.

First unveiled in October 2010, after five years in development, eLEGS™ was selected as No. 3 in CNN’s “Top Ten Innovations of 2010,” No. 2 in Wired’s “Top Ten Gadgets of 2010,” and one of TIME Magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010.” eLEGS™ is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered exoskeleton that is strapped over the user’s clothing. The device provides unprecedented knee flexion, which translates into the most natural human gait available in any exoskeleton today, and can be adjusted in a few minutes to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5’2” and 6’2”.

“There has been a surge of locomotive training for incomplete spinal cord injuries over the last 10 years, which is exciting and has helped facilitate recovery in that population. However, a significant number of people with incomplete injuries still have to use their wheelchair at least part of the time. This technology could potentially allow them to walk in the community without using a wheelchair,” says Candy Tefertiller, PT, director of physical therapy at Craig. She adds, “Research and clinical practice has done a lot for incomplete injuries, but not as much for motor-complete spinal cord injuries, so eLEGS™ may give those individuals the ability to be upright and walking on a daily basis as well.”

Craig leads the way: Neurologic music therapy

Music is a very important part of our lives, and can be even more important after a neurologic injury. Many family members report unique responses to music during recovery from such injuries. Now, we are able to utilize these responses to work toward functional improvements in activities of daily life.

Neurologic music therapy combines music and neuroscience research with live, personalized musical experiences. Neurologic music therapists maintain a close connection to research and utilize standardized techniques to address cognitive, speech, and sensorimotor goals.

Through the support of generous donors to the Craig Hospital Foundation we are now able to offer this cutting-edge therapy to the list of services available to our patients. Only a few top rehabilitation hospitals in the country offer this service, and Craig leads the way once again.

The scientific foundation for neurologic music therapy is the partial overlap of musical and non-musical functions in the brain. People often react to music in ways that they do not react to other stimuli. In the hands of a qualified professional, music can be an important key to unlocking brain and behavior functions and improving quality of life. Patients who have had the opportunity to participate in this service have provided the following comments:

“We saw dramatic improvement in (my wife’s) speech as a result of music therapy.” ...

“My patient’s speech and movement improved significantly on the day we started with music therapy.” ... The patient’s “gains from the music therapy made a big difference in her being able to use speech recognition software.”

If you would like to help support this wonderful program, please contact Jane Marsh at the Craig Hospital Foundation, 303-789-8651.

—by Sarah Thompson, MM, MT-BC, neurologic music therapist–fellow

Nurse advice line wins national award

Craig’s SCI Nurse Advice Line won the 2011 Dorland Health’s Case In Point Platinum Award. Dorland Health, publisher of Case In Point, recognizes the most successful and innovative case management programs working to improve health care.

Craig’s SCI Nurse Advice Line, staffed by nurses Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., is the only one of its kind exclusively dedicated to the unique needs of people with spinal cord injury. The service is offered free of charge to people throughout the country, even if they have never been to Craig. It also complements Craig’s SCI follow-up program to help ensure that Craig grads follow their care plan established during rehabilitation. In just two years, our nurses have impacted the lives of 2,500 people living with spinal cord injury in all 50 states. Approximately 60 percent of calls received so far have been from outside Colorado. Approximately 75 percent of calls come from people who are living with SCI; 16 percent from family members, friends, or other caregivers; and 6 percent from health care providers who are inexperienced in caring for a person with an SCI. Approximately half of callers live in a rural location where access to specialized medical care is unavailable.

Satisfaction has been very positive with over 96 percent reporting that the service is valuable, 94 percent reporting they are satisfied, and 95 percent reporting their needs were met. The program has been supported by generous grants from the Anschutz Foundation, PVA Educational Fund, Caring for Colorado, Schramm Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and individual donors.

Craig receives national award for outstanding quality
Tops all rehab hospitals for quality, patient outcomes, and sustained improvement

On January 27 the American Nurses Association (ANA) honored Craig Hospital in the Rehabilitation Hospital category for achieving outstanding nursing quality, based on the nursing performance measures they collect and report to ANA’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI®), the only national database of nursing quality indicators. The awards were announced at the 5th annual NDNQI Conference in Miami, Fla., attended by more than 1,000 nursing and health care quality leaders.

Craig Hospital and the four other hospitals who received the 2010 NDNQI Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality® were identified for top performance from among the more than 1,700 hospitals that report their results to NDNQI. NDNQI represents one of every three hospitals nationwide, and their database allows individual nursing units to compare their performance to similar units at other hospitals at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Craig and the other award winners demonstrated superior results and sustained improvement in patient outcomes and high nurse job satisfaction on the broad range of nursing-sensitive performance indicators tracked by NDNQI, such as hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, patient falls with injury, infections acquired as a result of hospitalization, and nurse turnover.

“Quality and satisfaction are never an accident. It takes dedication, perseverance, and hard work. Craig nursing continuously demonstrates quality data results and high nurse satisfaction. Commitment to a ‘world-class’ experience for our patients and a superior work environment for our staff has resulted in Craig nursing receiving the 2010 NDNQI Quality Data Award,” says Diane Reinhard, Craig’s vice president of patient care services, who was present in Miami to receive the award. “I am very grateful to NDNQI for the recognition of our amazing nursing department.”

ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, says, “The common traits of the award-winning hospitals are strong leadership, teamwork, commitment to ongoing improvement in patient care quality, continuous staff education, and efficient use of resources.”

NDNQI, a program of ANA’s National Center for Nursing Quality® (NCNQ®), was established in 1998. In any given quarter, more than 15,000 nursing units report performance data. This data not only provides links between patient outcomes and the quality of nursing services, but also can indicate connections between patient outcomes and nurse staffing levels, education, and skills, leading to more effective staffing plans. NDNQI also measures nurse satisfaction through a Work Environment Survey. In 2010, Craig nurses scored 67.9 on the survey, not only exceeding the overall national average, but also exceeding the average among nurses in Magnet® designated hospitals.

Craig nursing hosts 6th annual research symposium

Candy T speaking to 2011 nursing researchCraig Hospital hosted the 6th annual Research Symposium on February 24. As part of our dedication to providing our patients and families with high quality care, we recognize the importance of advancing and broadening the research available regarding the challenges faced by our patients every day. The Research Symposium is a chance to showcase, share, and brainstorm about research and evidence affecting our patients as well as to learn more about the research process.

Nursing and ancillary departments shared quality improvement projects and research results through colorful, high-quality posters displayed during the event. Nursing posters included the following: a falls improvement project that has resulted in no falls with injury on 2-West since the project was initiated, a project comparing changes in blood pressure readings with different-sized cuffs on patients emphasizing the importance of using the correctly sized cuff, information comparing different home mattress surfaces for spine patients, an evaluation of the literature on best practices for central lines, and many others.

Patsy CullenOur invited keynote speaker, Patsy Cullen, PhD, CPNP, shared stories from the trenches about her personal experience with bedside nursing research and encouraged Craig nursing to continue to seek out and engage in bedside research. Many times one thinks of a laboratory with vials and beakers when referring to research, but the nursing field is backed by many qualitative and quantitative studies that compel us to understand experiences of patients and families and how we as nurses can affect and improve outcomes.

Symposium participants learned about the amazing research going on at Craig, as well as information about how to write a grant for funding, and how to write an abstract for presentation to a conference or for journal publication. Craig’s nursing department will continue to honor our
commitment to quality patient care by seeking out and understanding research and its importance to the patients and families we serve.
—Lisa Shelton, RN, BSN, CRRN, Magnet® program and special projects coordinator

2012 Brain Injury SummitSave the date! 2012 Brain Injury Summit

Mark your calendars! Craig is hosting a cutting-edge, unique TBI conference January 9-11, 2012, in Beaver Creek, Colo. — the 2012 Brain Injury Summit. This high-level conference is designed for experienced professionals: physicians, providers, clinicians, researchers, insurance executives, public policy executives, TBI administrators, attorneys, and others. The conference program will include tracks in acute care, clinical rehabilitation, community reintegration, lifelong living, and applied research. Program formats will include keynote presentations, plenary and panel presentations, breakout sessions, poster presentations, roundtables, exhibits, sponsorships, and networking opportunities.

For more information, see or

Update from Craig’s adaptive technology lab

Looking for the latest and greatest things offered by the world of technology? Tech Lab has its finger on the pulse! Craig’s Mark McKenzie Tech Lab is staffed by specially trained occupational and speech therapists and provides hands-on education and training for Craig patients and families about the most current equipment, software, and technical devices on the market. Such equipment has value in improving safety, decreasing attendant care, helping return to work, and raising quality of life.

Cell PhonesAdaptive Technology
These days everyone uses cell phones to connect to the world, and it’s no different for someone with a brain or spinal cord injury. Cell phones have a vast number of capabilities beyond calling and texting. With cell phone access, patients can call for help in case of emergency which can be invaluable to individual independence. New apps can also assist with memory, organization, and hands-free operation. Tech Lab offers expertise for a wide range of phones from basic flip phones to the latest iPhone and Android smart phones. When physical access to a phone is challenging, Tech Lab can help determine solutions for accessing touch screens, using bluetooth headsets, and taping into speech recognition apps.

Adaptive TechnologyComputer Access
Want to check email? Let Tech Lab show you how! Patients in Tech Lab learn ways to access a mouse and keyboard and simplify their computer screen so they can rejoin the cyberworld. Tech Lab specialists also stay current with developments in speech recognition software for Mac and PC that enable patients to surf the Web, send emails, and create documents simply by using their voice.

Augmentative Communication
Life can be frustrating when people are trying to guess what you’re saying. For those who are unable to communicate with their voices, augmentative and alternative communication devices can be essential to getting daily needs met. Tech Lab helps patients explore everything from low-tech options such as communication boards to high-tech Dynavox and iPad options to find the best fit.

Environmental Controls
Environmental Controls