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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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How do I choose a Rehabilitation Center?

Spinal cord rehabilitation image

After stabilization, the person with a spinal cord injury needs to go to a specialized hospital called a rehabilitation center. It is very important to locate the most appropriate rehabilitation center in order to receive spinal cord specific care and facilitate maximum recovery.

There are several resources available to help you choose the most beneficial center. Some of the most important questions to ask when choosing a rehabilitation center include:

  • Does the facility have experience with the particular diagnosis or condition?
  • How many patients with the specific diagnosis or condition does the facility see per year?
  • How far is the patient willing to travel or be away from family?
  • Does the facility have cutting-edge therapies?
  • Is the facility age appropriate?
  • What is the staff to patient ratio?
  • Is the facility accredited – that is, does it meet professional standards of care for your specific needs?

To locate an accredited facility, there are a few websites sites that can help make process easier. Also visit the PRC section on how to choose a rehab center.

National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) funds 14 Model Spinal Cord Injury Facilities in the U.S. Phone: 206-685-4181; Model SCI Centers across the United States work together to demonstrate improved care, maintain a national database, participate in independent and collaborative research, and provide continuing education relating to spinal cord injury. Projects are currently located in the following states: Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is another resource for locating accredited rehabilitation facilities. CARF accreditation means the facility has passed an in-depth review of its services. You can request a provider in your region by emailing or calling CARF. There is a difference between a general CARF accreditation and one specific to spinal cord injury. Ask for a list of spinal cord injury accredited centers.

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), toll-free 888-281-6531

Listed below are resources available to help you to choose a rehabilitation center for a child.

Shiners' Hospital for Children: Hospitals by Specialty

Pediatric Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program

Kennedy Krieger Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Rehabilitation (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Rehabilitation - Choosing facility (PDF)

A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on New Injury Top 10 Questions (PDF)

American Academy of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationAs the premier medical society for the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation, AAPM&R is the only organization exclusively serving the needs of practicing PM&R physicians. With more than 7,500 members, the Academy represents more than 87 percent of US physiatrists and international colleagues from 37 countries.

American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)Main membership organization for the PT profession, furthering the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of movement dysfunctions.

American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA)ATRA is the largest, national membership organization representing the interests and need of recreational therapists. Recreational therapists are health care providers using recreational therapy interventions for improved functioning of individuals with illness or disabling conditions.

American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationASHA is the professional association for audiologists, speech-language pathologists, as well as speech, language and hearing scientists.

The American Congress of RehabilitationServes people with disabling conditions by promoting rehabilitation research and the transfer of technology.

Association of Rehabilitation NursesPromotes and accredits rehab nurses and promotes the philosophy of care of the nursing professional.

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)Advances the field of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy, education, and research.

The Centre for Ambulatory Rehabilitation Research and Education (CARRE)Based in Alberta, Canada, CARRE is a research translational facility that examines various treatments for walking after spinal cord injury.

Model Systems Centers for Spinal Cord InjuryA federally funded program of 14 specialty medical and/or rehabilitation centers across the US. The SCI Care System collects and submits acute, rehabilitation and follow-up (annual, long-term post-discharge) data on SCI patients who received care in the these centers following injury.

National Rehabilitation Association (NRA)Not long after Congress passed the National Rehabilitation Act of 1920, the National Rehabilitation Association (NRA) began its commitment to persons with disabilities. As the oldest and strongest advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, NRA's mission is to provide advocacy, awareness and career advancement for professionals in the fields of rehabilitation. Their members include rehab counselors, physical, speech and occupational therapists, job trainers, consultants, independent living instructors and other professionals involved in the advocacy of programs and services for people with disabilities.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.