Spinal Cord Rehab

What is spinal cord rehabilitation?

As one of the country's largest and most respected acute rehabilitation hospitals, Bryn Mawr Rehab just outside of Philadelphia has helped hundreds of people with spinal cord injuries and disorders make incredible strides in their lives. Patients range in age from 16* to 95 with the average age being 59—each overseen by our team of physicians, along with physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapists as well as nurses, registered dietitians and more, providing innovative inpatient and outpatient spinal cord rehabilitation care.

Patients are admitted to our inpatient and outpatient programs after motor vehicle or other types of accidents as well as diagnosis for:

Following an inpatient stay, the vast majority of patients go on to outpatient spinal cord therapy (also at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern) or home-based therapies to continue rehabilitation. We also offer a lifetime follow-up program of ongoing assessment by a physician, nurse and therapist as needed.

Intensive inpatient spinal cord rehab to help achieve maximum independence

Because every patient with a spinal cord injury or disorder is different, we provide a range of spinal cord rehab options based on medical status and lifestyle needs. Our spinal cord rehabilitation inpatients come to us with extremely severe injuries but leave with remarkable recoveries.

Our expert spinal cord rehab therapists bring creativity to each patient’s program, developing therapies around what motivates each patient most. For example, since restoring balance is a critical skill to relearn, we’ve utilized the unique demands of a kayak in our warm-water pool to develop core strength and right-to-left stability. As skills improve, the therapies increase in complexity.

By building on even the smallest movement, we begin to improve self-reliance and overall health and wellness. Our therapists provide patients with exercises for improved breathing, strength, flexibility and movement, and teach new strategies for performing activities of daily living, intended to optimize patients’ returns to their communities.

Inpatient spinal cord rehabilitation therapy and amenities

To maximize independence during the inpatient stay, our spinal cord disorders unit is specially equipped with helpful amenities like easy-access specialty beds, mechanical equipment and assistive devices. Specially trained neurological physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, care managers and psychologists collaborate on a cross-practice work plan to establish and accomplish realistic goals. Our devoted inpatient care for spinal cord patients includes:

  • 24-hour care from physicians and nurses specially trained in rehabilitation
  • Specialized therapy gym that facilitates close team communication
  • Observation room with close staff supervision for patients with behavioral difficulties
  • Lokomat body suspension mobility rehabilitator to help patients begin walking again
  • Smart Balance Master® interactive balance training system
  • Independent Living Unit that allows patients to learn functional activities using real furniture and appliances

With their therapists, patients work to build strength, conditioning, range of motion, balance and coordination. Daily therapy sessions target postural training, sitting or standing tolerance, wheelchair skills, gait training and transfer training. Other treatments such as hot packs, ultrasound or electrical stimulation may be used to relieve discomfort. Psychologists provide support and counseling to promote family relationships and adjustment. Throughout every patient’s stay, the care team meets to review progress, identify barriers to independence and create solutions tailored to that patient, working toward the goal of maximum independence.

Patients with a spinal cord injury or disorder have access to the following spinal cord rehabilitation services:

At the end of a spinal cord rehab stay, a discharge summary is sent by the patient’s rehabilitation physician to the primary care doctor to ensure a complete continuum of care.

View our inpatient outcome report

Inpatient spinal cord disorders support group

This support group is open to those on the inpatient units who have experienced a spinal cord injury or who have a spinal cord disorder. The group is led by a psychologist with a focus on adjustment issues.

The group meets every Wednesday from 11:30 am–12:00 pm in the Main Patient Dining Room. For further information call the psychology department at 484.596.5430.

* We accept patients under 18 years old after careful review.

Outpatient spinal cord rehab for ongoing support

All outpatient spinal cord rehabilitation takes place at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern, Pennsylvania, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Here patients can participate in our spinal cord therapy program that offers a variety of rehab services.

Support groups and vocational rehabilitation are also available so patients can return to their communities with as much independence as possible.

View our outpatient outcome report

Outpatient spinal cord disorders support group

This support group offers the opportunity for people who have experienced a spinal cord injury or have a spinal cord disorder to discuss physical changes and social issues that they face daily. Topics such as relationships, nutrition, fitness and driving are discussed and there are occasional guest speakers and group outings.

For more information, call 484.596.5855 or email [email protected].

Family support for spinal cord rehabilitation

For the best results possible, we allow and encourage family members to actively participate in the rehabilitation process. This can be a great support for the patient, as well as an ideal chance for family to get the education and training they need for life after Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. Family members can participate in daily therapy sessions and spend time with their loved one in the Independent Living Units, which allow patients to learn functional activities necessary for their transition home. If needed, family members can request a family meeting with the care team. Additionally, we offer on-site family accommodations for those traveling from great distances.