The Acute Spinal Cord Injury Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago are nationally recognized leaders in the treatment of Spinal Cord Injury. Together they comprise the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System. This collaborative effort is one of only 14 Model System programs in the United States to be designated as a Model System of Care for spinal cord injury by the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).
To be designated a Model System for spinal cord injury care, a program must provide:
- Emergency medical service
- Acute medical and trauma care
- Psychosocial counseling
- Rehabilitation care
- Long-term follow-up and community integration
- Collaborative and site-specific research
The dedicated physicians and healthcare professionals at Northwestern Memorial Hospital are concerned about both the medical aspects of spinal cord injury and the life changing impact on the well being of patients and their families. It is our goal to maximize potential for neurologic recovery and to minimize and treat any associated conditions or complications to help provide the opportunities for regaining life skills and independence. Northwestern Memorial's multidisciplinary approach to acute spinal cord injury care includes:
Specialized Surgical Care
Orthopaedic, neurological and trauma surgeons on the medical staff at Northwestern Memorial specialize in traumatic spine and spinal cord injuries and collaborate for the best approach to each patient's care. Surgical treatments include:
- Repair of traumatic injury to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar sacral spine
- Decompression to relieve pressure of neurological structures and to prevent progression of the neurological injury
- Reconstructive surgical procedures to address the structural stability of the spine
- Minimally invasive surgical approaches
Acute nursing care for spinal cord injury patients at Northwestern Memorial focuses on helping the patient maximize functional independence during daily activities. Our specially-trained nurses manage a wide range of patient-care issues that impact how quickly patients are able to progress.
Northwestern Memorial addresses the most common respiratory issues faced by patients with spinal cord injuries. This enables patients to be transitioned more quickly to the next level of care and to prepare for community re-entry. The Rehabilitation Institute is one of the few inpatient rehabilitation facilities in the Midwest that provides cares for ventilator-dependent spinal cord injury patients.
Seamless Transition to Rehabilitation
Northwestern Memorial provides patients with a seamless transition from our Acute Spinal Cord Injury Center to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago by providing continuous, supportive and expert care that is crucial during the rehabilitative journey.
Researching New & Promising Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury
Northwestern Memorial physicians are involved in research at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine that includes:
- Stem cell biology—Utilizing stem cells to help repair the damaged spinal cord
- Nanotechnology to help create an environment in the spinal cord that is conducive to repair
The Rehabilitation Institute is home to one of the largest rehabilitation research efforts in the world with more than 240 projects underway. The Rehabilitation Institute's spinal cord injury patients are among the first to participate in innovative treatments such as: The BrainGate™ Neural Interface System, Robot-assisted walking therapy with the Lokomat® and the prototype KineAssist™ that may bring opportunities for greater independence and functional ability.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Physician Referral Services