HomeRehabilitation, New Injury & Recovery ProgramsChoosing a Rehabilitation SettingThe importance of rehabilitation

1.4. The importance of rehabilitation

In his autobiography, A World to Care For (Random House, 1977), the father of rehabilitation, Dr. Howard Rusk wrote: "...once a person overcomes a disability through his own courage, determination and hard work, he has a depth of spirit you and I know little about.....[this] is a branch of medicine in which the patient has more power than the doctor in setting the limits and possibilities......"

Following the acute trauma care that medically stabilizes the person who has sustained a spinal cord injury/disorder (SCI/D), the individual is transferred to acute rehabilitation. A rehabilitation program may be in the same or a different facility or a free-standing facility.

The goal of rehabilitation is to help persons learn how to care for a body that now works differently, maintain a high level of health that avoids the secondary complications of SCI and reintegrate oneself into the community.

In acute (intense) rehabilitation, the SCI/D person (and his family/significant other) becomes an important member of a team of SCI professionals that include physical medicine, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, social work, psychology and recreation. A SCI team of experts has the skill to provide a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, lifetime approach that is so essential to the care of the person who is newly injured.

United Spinal Association encourages all persons to seek their acute rehabilitation in a facility that provides a dedicated SCI program that can address the unique, life-long needs of these persons. [Insurance, location and individual circumstances will affect a final placement decision.]Appropriate rehabilitation begins the journey to an improved quality of life for each person who has experienced this life-changing event.

There are two programs that designate/accredit a facility as a SCI program of rehabilitation. The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living, designates the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems centers. The Model Systems provide comprehensive care from the time of admission, following an acute injury, through rehabilitation to discharge and reintegration into the community.

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredits facilities that provide rehabilitation services and programs, both inpatient and outpatient, that are specific for SCI/D. Please access the lists of these specialized facilities; Spinal Cord Injury Systems of Care.

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