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. 

Baylor Scott and White Spinal Cord Injury Model System – Baylor Research Institute

The Baylor Scott & White Spinal Cord Injury Model System (BSW-SCIMS) is a nationally recognized program that supports innovative clinical care and research to evaluate medical, rehabilitation, vocational and other services to meet the needs of individuals with SCI. It provides the largest continuum of care to individuals with SCI in North Texas and surrounding states, which includes emergency medical services, acute care, rehabilitation, and outpatient services. 


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

Minnesota Regional Spinal Cord Injury Model System

The University of Minnesota Medical School will be a premier site for a spinal cord injury (SCI) Center for Excellence through an interdisciplinary team of health care experts from the U of M Medical School and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, M Health Fairview, Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, Mayo Clinic, HealthPartners Regions Hospital and Hennepin Healthcare. It aims to provide a multidisciplinary continuum of clinical care for people with SCI, which will also be used to base and expand research on SCI. 

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.

National Capital SCI Model System – MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital

MedStar Health offers comprehensive inpatient, day treatment, and outpatient care components—offering top quality services from onset of illness or injury through a successful transition to home, community, and employment.

Patients in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program benefit from their robust research and access to clinical trials of new rehab interventions. They focus on the whole person, helping patients meet the challenges they face physically, medically, and socially, allowing them to reach the highest level of health and independence possible.

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

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 California SCI Model System of Care (Santa Clara Valley Medical Center)

Located in Santa Clara, CA, the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s (SCVMC) Rehabilitation Research Center (RRC) is dedicated to improving patient care by investigating innovative treatments, identifying and promoting factors associated with prevention and resilience, and understanding the continuum of care from acute care through community reintegration. 


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.

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).

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.

Virginia Consortium for SCI Care – Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Consortium for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Care is a collaborative effort of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering (CERSE), Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS), and Sheltering Arms Institute

The Consortium initial focus is on two research studies, including the use of noninvasive electrical stimulation, to improve both arm and hand muscle mass and nerve function. The second proposed study will identify specific sources of health inequities following SCI, which aims to identify practical solutions that can improve rehabilitation access and health outcomes for people from rural areas, as well as racial and ethnic minority backgrounds.