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Spinal cord injury

Patients with spinal cord injury enjoy some play timeEach year 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) are reported throughout the U.S. Approximately 10 percent affect children under age 16. In the mid-1980s, Shriners Hospitals for Children established the nation’s first SCI rehabilitation programs specifically designed for children and teenagers.

Innovative care contributes to recovery

At Shriners Hospitals for Children, an interdisciplinary team of surgeons and other physicians, therapists, therapeutic recreation specialists, psychologists, social workers and dieticians work together to provide individualized, comprehensive care plans for our patients with SCI. In addition to providing treatment, our staff works with the patient’s family members to help them understand the social, emotional and developmental implications of an SCI to help ensure the best possible outcome for the child, including the ability to have a full, productive life.

Innovative therapies offered at Shriners Hospitals for Children include body-weight supported manual treadmill training or robotic treadmill training with the Lokomat, a device that automates movement therapy and improves the efficiency of treadmill training in patients with neurological movement disorders, such as spinal cord injury. Both of these therapies provide weight-bearing opportunities and can help stimulate muscles and build strength and stamina.

Our programs also offer functional electric stimulation (FES), which is a sophisticated, computerized system that sends small doses of electrical current to peripheral nerves, stimulating paralyzed muscles. FES can be used with specialized bikes to provide an opportunity for exercise.

We also emphasize activity-based rehabilitation, including aqua therapy, pet therapy and adaptive sports. These activities also increase strength and stamina and enhance social interaction, confidence and independence.

Emphasizing independence and confidence

In addition to exercise and therapy efforts, we offer a range of experiential programs designed to increase independent living skills, build confidence and strengthen self-esteem.

The health care system’s SCI program is designed to provide the complete range of services needed to ensure patients recover to the greatest extent possible.

For more information about a particular condition, contact your local Shriners Hospitals for Children directly or call 800-237-5055 in the U.S., or 800-361-7256 in Canada.