Model System of Care

Since 1982, Shepherd Center has been designated as a national leader in spinal cord injury care and research under the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems program at the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

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. The Center has the largest number of new admissions and outpatient visits of all the Model Systems sites.

Through NIDILRR grant money, 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
  • Advocacy program
  • Spinal cord injury prevention program
  • Adventure Skills Workshop

Today, these programs are funded through contributions made by our donors or operationally.

In 1990, the federal agency's priorities shifted more toward clinical research and away from demonstration projects. This was a natural outgrowth of the number of years that the program had been in existence. As a result of that shift, Shepherd Center elected to do two things: collaborate heavily with other systems; and establish a line of research on quality of life, adjustment to injury, secondary complications and community reintegration issues.

Since that time, several projects have been undertaken and completed, including studies that focus on improving patient outcomes, particularly for those patients who have been identified as being at-risk due to health, behavior or family issues.

To be designated a Model System, a facility must provide:

  • Emergency medical services
  • Acute care
  • Rehabilitative care
  • Psychosocial adjustment
  • Long term follow-up/community integration
  • A primary injury prevention program
  • Collaborative and site-specific research
  • The facility must also collect, manage and analyze patient data collected during the acute hospitalization phase and on a regular basis after discharge.

For more information about the Southeastern Regional SCI Model System at Shepherd Center, call 404-350-7591 or email Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA..