Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

If you or a loved one has experienced an acute spinal cord injury, we're sorry that this has happened. While spinal cord injuries change many people's lives, our staff at Shepherd Center believes that life can still be fulfilling and enjoyable, regardless of the severity of your injury.

If you are currently in a trauma center, your doctor, case manager or discharge planner will talk to you about the next step once you are stabilized. Shepherd Center may be a rehabilitation option for you, depending on the severity of your injury, your current condition, and your insurance plan's specifications.

Our patients travel from around the nation to undergo Shepherd Center's aggressive brand of rehabilitation that you just won't find anywhere else. Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about us.

View our video series: Understanding Spinal Cord Injury

Shepherd Center is very different from a general hospital's rehabilitation unit. Our staff specializes in spinal cord injury and treats a high volume of patients - nearly 450 each year. As a result, we have more experience in dealing with spinal cord injuries at every level of injury, including people who are ventilator dependent or have a dual diagnosis of spinal cord and brain injury.

What you'll experience in our spinal cord injury program

Simply put, Shepherd Center's staff of more than 1,500 is made up of truly talented, caring and compassionate individuals. Our spinal cord injury unit has multiple treatment teams consisting of the following rehabilitation and medical team members: the attending physician, nurse, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech language pathologist, recreation therapist, case manager, peer support specialist, nutritionist and psychologist. A typical inpatient stay can last anywhere from four to six weeks. 

Video: Hear from former patients and families about their experience

When patients arrive at Shepherd Center, they're greeted by our admissions office staff, assigned to a team, and escorted to their rooms in the therapy unit. You'll meet all your team members within the first 24 hours of arrival.

If you are admitted as a patient directly to our ICU, you'll meet the ICU medical and rehabilitation staff first, and move to the therapy unit when you're ready. Staff will determine the appropriate course for rehabilitation and you'll begin working with your treatment team immediately to establish short- and long-term rehabilitation goals.

Your attending physician and dedicated nurses will assist you with any medical needs you may have so that you'll be at your best to focus on making progress in therapy. Your case manager will work with you and your family from day one to make sure all the necessary arrangements are in place for you to leave the inpatient unit confident and prepared for your next step.

Our spinal cord injury rehabilitation program 

Therapy begins first thing in the morning, with each patient getting out of bed and managing his or her morning routine in preparation for a full day of therapy. Your team will work together with you and your family to coordinate your care, set goals and track your progress.

Our therapists will teach you the skills you'll need to get through a normal day, making adjustments along the way to promote recovery. This includes everything from grooming and dressing to managing your schedule and working with others.

Mobility training is an important part of the therapy program. This includes learning how to use any device to assist with you mobility. Individual and group outings into the surrounding neighborhood will help you practice skills you'll need in your own community.

Come prepared to learn about spinal cord injury and recovery

Your counselor and education coordinators will begin mandatory training classes for patients and family members, who will learn about spinal cord injury, its consequences, and how to care for yourself as independently as possible. 

Video: Anatomy of the Spinal Cord and How it Works

Our goal is to provide you with all the education you'll need to feel comfortable and confident when you are discharged from Shepherd Center and go back home.

Our patients go on to achieve some of the greatest functional improvements from the time they are admitted to the time they are discharged when compared to similar facilities and national statistics. In fact, we post our patient outcomes right here on the web site (most facilities don't do this) to help inform you as you consider your rehabilitation options. Visit the page here. 

Video: Learn all about our patient outcomes at Shepherd Center

What happens after rehabilitation?

Following discharge, many of our patients stay on at Shepherd Center to take advantage of our day program, which allows patients who no longer need 24-hour nursing care to continue their recovery and rehabilitation while living in our residence center next door.

Day Program services are focused on the functional return of skills necessary for community reintegration. Services may include physical or occupational therapy, nursing, respiratory therapy, counseling sessions, therapeutic recreation and educational training sessions.

Depending on your goals, you may need these services for a few days or a few weeks.

The Day Program also helps minimize the chance of further medical complications that are secondary to the neurological injury or illness.

Going home and perhaps back to work or school can be stressful. We can help make the transition go as smoothly as possible.

Return-to-work counseling

You may or may not be able to return to the same type of work you did before your injury. Your case manager and counselor can help you explore career issues and refer you for vocational counseling if applicable.

Back-to-school program

Through our No Obstacles program, you and your therapist design a back-to-school plan that can include in-school awareness and sensitivity training for school staff and students, as well as instruction regarding medical issues, which may come up during your school day.

Outpatient Services

The Outpatient Services Department at Shepherd Center provides medical treatment, therapies and care for people with disabilities for a wide range of needs on an outpatient basis. Our programs provide individualized, integrative care and include family members when appropriate.

If you live far away from Atlanta, your case manager will work with you and your family to identify outpatient resources closer to home.

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