Model System Hospitals

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Fourteen hospitals across the United States have been identified by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR) as Spinal Cord Injury Model System Hospitals. Each of these provides an excellent “system of care” that incorporates the latest findings of research and education in spinal cord injury treatment and recovery, including rehabilitation.

Spinal Cord Injury Model System Hospitals are actively involved in cutting-edge research to develop innovative treatment and evaluate service delivery for comprehensive spinal cord injury medical care.  Innovations from Model System hospitals range from discovering new clinical interventions and methods of treatment, new pharmaceutical interventions, experimental interventions, such as stem cell implantation and electrical stimulation, to developing assistive technology, such as voice- recognition and other computer adaptations, manual and electric wheelchairs designed to reduce contractures and minimize pressure sores, use of robotics such as exoskeleton mobility devices, artificial intelligence to enhance communication, and other products that promote independence and enhance quality of life. 

Model System Hospitals also conduct a variety of clinical trials and interventional clinical studies to test the use of new drugs, medical devices, clinical procedures, and other activities to improve functionality and daily living for individuals with spinal cord injuries. Activities at the Model System Hospitals are listed below, as well as information on how to be part of a spinal cord clinical study registry so you can stay apprised of new studies and research findings. Learn more about the eligibility criteria for clinical trial participants. 

Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System – Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Chicago, IL

The Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center is operated by the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago), a world-renown state-of-the-art rehabilitation hospital that provides spinal cord injury care at all stages of recovery. It is the first-ever “translational” research hospital where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, applying research real time. Click on Clinical Trials to identify current studies underway and in recruitment of participants. Additional Patient and Family Education information is available through the AbilityLab LIFE Center

Mount Sinai Hospital Spinal Cord Injury Model System – Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY

Medical rehabilitation programs and services at Mount Sinai address a wide variety of needs, from first onset of disability through long-term – even life-long – management of conditions such as spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke, amputation, chronic pain, sports injuries and other physical and cognitive challenges. Mount Sinai’s Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) unit comprises the only SCI service in NYC accredited by CARF. The Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Center is especially well prepared to work with patients who may have complex medical needs. Four beds in the SCI unit are dedicated for the rehabilitation of individuals who are ventilator-dependent.

Northeast Ohio Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System – MetroHealth/Case Western Reserve, Cleveland, OH

The  MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio, a national leader in physical medicine and rehabilitation services recognized for restoring wellness after disabling disease or injury. As part of The MetroHealth System, it draws on the patient care, research, and educational resources of one of the region’s major healthcare institutions. It is a partner with the internationally acclaimed Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University Hospitals. This consortium continually researches the use of new technologies and innovative engineering to restore movement in paralyzed limbs to improve function and gain independence. 

Northern New Jersey Spinal Cord Injury System – Kessler Medical Rehabilitation, West Orange, NJ

Kessler Rehabilitation Institute, located in West Orange, NJ, provides state-of-the-art care for individuals with spinal cord injury and their families. The rehabilitation team integrates advanced treatment, proven therapies and leading-edge technologies, such as body-weight-supported treadmill training to improve gait performance, and pharmacological interventions for spasticity. Kessler also offers programs to help individuals reintegrate into daily life, such as support groups for patients and families, vocational counseling, and a Driver Rehabilitation Program to encourage greater personal independence.

Ohio Regional Model System – Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

For more than 50 years, Ohio State has forged a tradition of excellence in physical rehabilitation by providing the highest quality care to people with disabling or debilitating injuries and conditions. The Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Ohio State’s CARF accredited Wexner Medical Center offers effective treatments to help those with total or partial loss of sensation, movement or function due to spinal cord injury or disease. Their comprehensive treatment plans address the unique physical, social, psychological, emotional and economic issues that often accompany spinal cord injuries, and is home to one of seven centers that are part of the NeuroRecovery Network.

Learn More From our Video Library

Introduction to Model System Hospitals

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Medical Expert Interviews on Model System Hospitals

Personal Experiences with Model System Hospitals

Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley – Magee Rehabilitation Hospital/Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA

Located in Philadelphia, PA, the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, in affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, provides quality care and programs for individuals with Spinal Cord Injury. Many of these programs provide skills crucial to returning to community living. All resources and services of Magee are available through their Life Time Follow-Up system of care. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to access the Patient-Family Teaching Manual which provides consumer information on a variety of health topics pertinent to spinal cord injury. This section also includes day in the life videos and newsletters.

Rocky Mountain Regional Spinal Injury System – Craig Hospital, Englewood, CO

Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO offers state-of-the-art facilities and expert staff for the care of spinal cord injuries. Free on-campus housing units are offered to family members to encourage family support. The large number of patients with similar ages, backgrounds and injuries promotes hope through friendships and peer counseling. Click on Education & resources at the top toolbar to access interactive library resources on spinal cord injury.

South Florida Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems – University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

The South Florida Spinal Cord Injury Model System is operated by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. This CARF-accredited in-patient rehabilitation program provides a comprehensive multidisciplinary team of physiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, rehabilitation nurses, and other rehabilitation specialists. The program is based at Jackson Memorial Hospital, a 1,500 bed Level I trauma hospital. After completion of in-patient rehabilitation, spinal cord injury patients often continue with out-patient therapy and receive life-long out-patient medical care in the program’s Spinal Cord Injury clinics. The program is actively involved in clinical research and also maintains a close relationship with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis to ensure unique opportunities for improving health and wellness and additional opportunities to participate in research studies.

Southeastern Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System – Atlanta, GA

The Southeastern Regional SCI Model System at Shepherd Center is the largest of the country’s 14 Model Systems of Care for spinal cord injury. Shepherd Center has formulated and tested many projects that are now part of programs offered to patients, including: vocational services, peer support groups, community outreach, an advocacy program, a spinal cord injury prevention program and the Adventure Skills Workshop.

Shepherd Center is dedicated to collaborating heavily with other systems; and to establishing a line of research on quality of life, adjustment to injury, secondary complications and community reintegration issues.


Southern California Spinal Cord Injury Model System – Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center has over 50 years of experience providing quality care for persons with physical disabilities.  It has been a pioneer in the interdisciplinary team approach to patient care. Patients are treated by highly specialized teams dedicated to specific disability categories such as spinal cord injury, brain injury, etc. This allows caregivers to develop an expertise unmatched in the Region. This level of expertise is supported by millions of dollars in grant and research monies administered by the Los Amigos Research and Education Institute, Inc. (LAREI).

Spaulding New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center

The Spaulding New England Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center is committed to promoting quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injury throughout their lives, through exemplary standards of care and rehabilitation advanced through research, education, advocacy, and ongoing support. Spaulding’s mission is to: provide a full continuum of rehabilitation treatment and care, contribute new knowledge and treatment approaches through research and outcome studies, educate future rehabilitation specialists, including physicians, nurses, therapists and other allied health professionals, and advocate for persons with disabilities. A variety of consumer education material can be found in the Patient Handouts sections of the website.

Texas Model Spinal Cord Injury System at TIRR – Memorial Hermann, Houston, TX

The TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) Memorial Hermann was one of the first facilities in the United States to establish a spinal cord injury center and is internationally recognized for its expertise in the management of tetraplegic spinal cord injury patients who require a ventilator for breathing, including patients who are able to wean from the ventilator.  Their Spinal Cord Injury and Disability Research Center (SCIDR) was created to improve functional recovery, health and quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) and other physical disabilities by conducting  investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored studies, and clinical trials of individuals of all ages with spinal cord injury and physical disability. Research focuses on optimizing acute and chronic care for people with spinal cord injury, facilitating active community involvement and access to care, improving quality of life and reducing the risk of secondary complications and conditions such as depression, urinary tract infections, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease. 


University of Alabama Spinal Cord Injury Model System

Located  at the Spain Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham, AL, the UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System offers individualized care for both adolescents and adults with an emphasis on family participation in the recovery process. Patients’ families are encouraged to attend therapy education sessions to improve continued care at home.

University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury – UMPC Rehabilitation Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) on Spinal Cord Injury provides comprehensive team-based treatment by physicians, therapist, and vocational rehabilitation specialists. This facility is heavily involved in spinal cord injury research, with in-depth investigation on assistive technology and care and treatment of spinal cord injuries to enhance quality of life. The Center also contributes to the assessment of life-long outcomes of individuals with spinal cord injury through enrollment of participants in the National Spinal Cord Injury Database. Fact sheets to support Living with SCI are provided from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center as well as other scholarly and consumer publications.