Adolescent Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program
Treatment for Young Patients Age 12 and Older
It’s hard enough being a teenager. But what about being a teen who has to cope with the effects of a life-altering accident or illness? At Shepherd Center, medical treatment focuses on returning adolescents with spinal cord injuries to the highest possible level of functioning and independence.
Each year, more than 100 adolescents, ages 12 to 21, come to Shepherd Center from all over the country. They or their families choose Shepherd for its specialized treatment teams, age-appropriate therapy, and expertise in treating teens and young adults with spinal cord injuries.
The Adolescent Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program follows Shepherd Center's goal of returning patients to the highest possible level of functioning and independence, while addressing adolescents' needs for autonomy, privacy and control.
Hallmarks of the adolescent program include:
- A physician-led treatment team dedicated to adolescent patients
- Individual rehabilitation sessions in the same therapy gym as other teens
- Teens-only support groups and visits from former teen patients
- Education and training in problem-solving, stigma management, self-advocacy, drug and alcohol awareness, self-care and sexuality
- Community outings, which include going to restaurants, shopping malls, sports arenas and even camping, to promote problem-solving and the experience of being out in the community in a supportive group
- An on-staff teacher who keeps patients up to date on schoolwork
- An innovative, school-reintegration program that helps lessen anxiety for teachers, classmates and the newly injured adolescent
- A high priority on the involvement of family and friends
Adolescent Spinal Cord Rehabilitation and Academics
Staying on track academically is extremely important for teens with a spinal cord or brain injury. More than 90 percent of our spinal cord-injured adolescent patients return to school within two weeks of discharge. Of those, 95 percent graduate on time with their class and with their pre-injury GPA. For adolescents with a brain injury, 95 percent return to school within three to six months.
Adolescents rely on school experiences and positive peer interactions for much of their self-esteem and growth. Shepherd Center has developed a program called No Obstacles for teens with spinal cord injuries to facilitate the back-to-school transition.
Designed in part by the individual patient, the program can include in-school awareness and sensitivity training for school staff and students, as well as instruction in medical issues that may arise during the school day. Support from our donors makes this program available to most teen patients at no cost.
Patient Stories of Hope
Patients in the Adolescent Spinal Cord Injury Program share their stories and speak about their experiences with Shepherd Center. Watch the videos to hear how three teens achieved their best outcomes in our spinal cord injury rehabilitation program.