Ohio State supports increased function and a higher quality of life for those with spinal cord damage.

The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center offers the most effective treatments available to help those with total or partial loss of sensation, movement or function due to spinal cord injury or disease.

Our rehabilitation program can help you regain lost skills or learn alternative behaviors to compensate for skills that cannot be recovered. The goal for each patient is to achieve the highest possible level of independence and quality of life.

Our Patients

Patients come to Ohio State for rehabilitative care with a spinal cord injury that is classified as:

  • Complete injury – No function below the level of injury, including no sensation or movement (paralysis), with both sides of the body affected
  • Incomplete injury – Some movement or sensation below the injury, which may include more function on one side of the body than the other

Spinal cord injuries may be the result of:

  • Birth injuries
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Sports or recreation injuries
  • Violent acts
  • Diseases, such a cancer, arthritis, inflammation or infection

Why choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

Ohio State’s comprehensive rehabilitative care programs help people with spinal cord injuries optimize their abilities and achieve a higher level of independence. Here’s why people choose Ohio State for care after a spinal cord injury:

Personalized Care: You will receive a personal evaluation that helps create an individualized care plan to meet your needs and lead you toward your health goals. We will help you learn the skills and techniques you need to improve your abilities at work, home and social settings.

Best Outcomes: Unlike many other programs, our treatment plans address the unique physical, social, psychological, emotional and economic issues that often accompany spinal cord injuries. This comprehensive approach allows patients to return to their communities sooner than most programs, as our inpatient length of stay is shorter than the national average.

Unique Services: Ohio State is home to one of only seven centers that are part of the NeuroRecovery Network. This network uses activity-based therapies, specifically locomotor training. Locomotor training is an innovative treatment that employs the nervous system’s ability to learn, or relearn, motor skills. We are the only central Ohio program that provides the full spectrum of care for spinal cord injury patients. From surgery to inpatient rehabilitation to outpatient rehabilitation, we are here for you.

Accredited Programs: We are proud that our Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs at Dodd Hall and our Outpatient Medical Rehabilitation Programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF recognizes our programs as meeting the highest standards in quality, safety and outcome measures, which provide risk-reduction and accountability in our patient care.

Nation’s Best: Ohio State’s rehabilitation program consistently ranks among the best in the nation. As an academic medical center, Ohio State offers comprehensive medical expertise, the most advanced technologies and treatment techniques, and innovative care backed by research knowledge.

Our Services

Our Services

This program offers rehabilitation services to help in each phase of your rehabilitation — from services offered in the hospital (inpatient services) to those offered after returning home (outpatient services). These services offer continued care to help achieve your highest level of recovery.

We have an expert team of healthcare professionals who work together to offer a wide range of rehabilitative services. This starts at the time of injury and continues through rehabilitation and long-term care.

Our services are for all levels of need:

  • Acute Rehabilitation, short-term medical treatment, usually in a hospital
  • Inpatient Rehabilitation, intensive therapies in the hospital
  • Outpatient Rehabilitation, follow-up therapy services after you have returned home from the hospital or another rehabilitation facility

Treatment

Your rehabilitative care may include:

Technology

  • Adaptive technology devices, assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, braces and special computer equipment and technology for easier home and work activities
  • Bioness technology, stimulation medical devices designed to help people gain mobility and function
  • Functional electrical stimulation, uses low levels of electrical current to stimulate physical or bodily functions lost through paralysis
  • Neuromodulation, the use of neurological pacemakers and other devices to deliver electrical signals, medications and other therapeutic agents precisely into the brain, spinal cord and nervous system
  • Saeboflex technology, a hand orthotic that helps maximize arm and hand function following a neurological injury

Testing, Training and Services

  • Augmentative communication assessment and training to determine communication needs and appropriate aids and techniques
  • Case management, coordination of inpatient and post-hospital care and services for patients and families
  • Counseling
  • Driver training
  • Neurological diagnostic tests, such as CT scan, MRI and EMG
  • Neuropsychological evaluations, measure concentration, learning and other skills
  • Rehabilitation psychology, behavioral and psychological treatment for patients and families coping with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability
  • Return-to-work training
  • Patient education focused on lifestyle adjustments
  • Videofluoroscopy, fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation for swallowing, and neuromuscular electrical stimulation to diagnose and treat swallowing disorders 

Therapies

  • Aquatic therapy, rehabilitation exercises performed in a warm water therapeutic pool
  • Arts therapy, uses the creative process to help patients improve physical skills, thinking skills and emotional well-being
  • Cognitive therapy, helps with thinking and understanding skills
  • Locomotor training (LT), a method of physical therapy where the patient is suspended in a harness over a treadmill, while specially-trained therapists moves his or her legs to simulate walking
  • Occupational therapy, helps patients participate in activities of daily living
  • Optokinetic training, exercises and activities to increase visual field and visual perception
  • Physical therapy, helps patients improve strength, mobility and fitness
  • Real world simulations, such as community reentry and independent living apartment
  • Recreational therapy, helps patients engage in recreational and leisure activities to enhance community participation and satisfaction
  • Speech therapy, treatment of speech and communication disorders
  • Vestibular therapy, exercise-based program that helps improve balance
  • Vision evaluation and vision therapy for the eyes and brain

Treatment and Medications

  • Advanced splinting, splints applied to wrists, hands, ankles and feet to help lengthen muscle groups and prevent deformity
  • Botox®, nerve blockade and baclofen pump therapy to reduce spasticity and tightness in selected muscle groups
  • Medications for cognitive, communication and motor skill recovery
  • Pain management, care that alleviates or reduces pain
  • Respiratory therapy, treatment of breathing disorders using respirators or aerosol medications
  • Serial casting for contracture management, casts are reapplied to stretch and maintain the new lengthened position of hyperactive muscle groups

Treatment Team

Your Treatment Team

Your personalized treatment care plan starts with a team of rehabilitation specialists who may include:

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians or physiatrists who specialize in helping people regain body functions lost due to medical conditions or injuries
  • Neurologists who specialize in disorders of the nervous system
  • Neurosurgeons who specialize in surgery on the brain and other parts of the nervous system
  • Neuropsychologists who specialize in the effects that injury or diseases of the brain and spinal cord have on emotions, behavior and learning
  • Certified rehabilitation nurses who specialize in the care of the chronically ill and injured
  • Physical therapists who specialize in helping patients achieve maximum strength, balance and mobility
  • Occupational therapists who specialize in improving patients' ability to complete activities of daily living
  • Speech-language pathologists who specialize in helping patients improve communication, cognition and swallowing
  • Recreational therapists who specialize in providing education and community-based interventions to improve patients' physical, mental, social and emotional well-being
  • Respiratory therapists who specialize in assessing and treating breathing disorders
  • Dietitians who specialize in nutrition and dietetics
  • Social workers who specialize in the social, emotional and financial needs of families and patients
  • Case managers who specialize in the coordination of inpatient and post-hospital care and services for patients and families
  • Rehabilitation engineers who specialize in determining, implementing and training patients on assistive technology devices, such as wheelchairs, special computer workstations and remote control systems
Our Doctors

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