Spinal Cord Injury
Your spinal cord carries messages from your brain all across your body. When an injury or illness damages your spinal cord, it’s harder for it to send these important messages. This can make it tough to do your daily activities and move like you used to.
Cleveland Clinic experts know how challenging and frustrating this can be. And we’re ready to help with compassionate, ongoing care and rehabilitation. We’ll work with you to help you move better and get back some of your independence after a spinal cord injury. We focus on your goals and use the latest therapy techniques so you can live your life in the best way possible.
Why Choose Us for Spinal Cord Injury Care?
Skilled collaborative partners:
Spinal cord injuries affect your physical and mental health. Our team includes experts from many different specialties who work together and with you to create a care plan that treats all areas of your life impacted by your injury. Meet our team.
Spinal cord injuries bring many challenges and can leave you wondering what’s next. Our rehabilitation specialists understand what you’re facing and approach each therapy session with an open, caring heart.
Innovation and research:
We’re always researching new therapies to help you recover from a spinal cord injury. Our experts use the latest technologies, including the newest virtual reality therapies.
Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.
Not up for an in-person visit with your provider? That’s OK. Virtual visits are a convenient, safe alternative for some appointments. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Guiding You Through Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic
A spinal cord injury changes so much about your life. As you navigate these changes, we’ll be there to answer your questions, talk about your concerns and guide you through each part of your rehabilitation.
Many things can cause a spinal cord injury, but they’re mainly divided into two buckets — nontraumatic injuries and traumatic injuries. Nontraumatic spinal cord injuries can happen because of infections, autoimmune diseases, vascular disease, tumors or spina bifida. Traumatic injuries are often from falls, vehicle accidents, sport injuries or violence (gunshot or knife wounds).
Meet Our Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Team
After being treated for a spinal cord injury by our top neurotrauma and spine surgeons, you’ll work with our compassionate, expert rehabilitation team, including:
- Physiatrists (physical medicine and rehabilitation providers).
- Physical therapists.
- Occupational therapists.
- Speech-language therapists.
- Nurse practitioners.
- Physician assistants.
- Social workers.
- Nurse coordinators.
Providers Who Treat Spinal Cord Injuries
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic
You’ll typically meet with your physiatrist first. Your physiatrist is a provider who specializes in rehabilitation medicine. They’ll do a thorough exam and talk with you about how your injury is affecting your body. Then they’ll go over treatment and rehab options.
Our specialists use the latest treatments to protect and improve how your muscles work after a spinal cord injury. They’ll work with you to design a rehabilitation plan focused on your unique needs and goals. They’ll help you learn new skills and adapt your lifestyle to fit your needs. And a nurse coordinator will help schedule follow-up appointments to continue your care. Your rehab plan may include:
Our physical therapists are specially trained in neurologic physical therapy. They’ll help you regain strength and reach your personal goals, such as walking, eating independently, driving or returning to work. Your therapist may also recommend aquatic therapy to make your muscles stronger. This water-based therapy program can be really helpful if you’re living with paralysis.
Our skilled occupational therapists will help you learn skills and strategies for doing daily activities, like showering, dressing and using the toilet. They can also help you learn how to safely and efficiently move about your home and community using assistive devices, like a walker or wheelchair.
Our expert speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can help with swallowing and speech problems after a spinal cord injury. They can also help with cognitive issues, like trouble focusing, concentrating and remembering things.
We bring virtual reality into today’s rehab setting with the Motek® Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN). This new technology helps us better test how well you balance and move using games and exercise routines set in a virtual world.
Sometimes, your provider might recommend a nerve or tendon transfer to get your muscles in your arm, shoulder or hand working again. During this procedure, a surgeon will connect one of your healthy nerves or tendons to a nerve or tendon that isn’t working below the spinal cord injury. This can help you regain control in your upper limbs.
Caring for other conditions
A spinal cord injury can sometimes cause ulcers, osteoporosis, bladder and bowel control issues and, in some cases, autonomic dysreflexia (a condition that causes high blood pressure and severe headaches). Our specialists work together to help prevent and manage conditions that are associated with your spinal cord injury.
Emotional and social support
A spinal cord injury can take a toll on you mentally, as well as physically. And that’s understandable, especially if you can’t participate in activities you once enjoyed. We’re here to help you cope. Our neuro-specialty-trained psychologists, social workers and therapists will support you and your loved ones throughout your entire journey. And, for those who are ready, we provide services to help you prepare to return to work.
Looking Ahead to What’s Next
No one is prepared for the changes and challenges that can come your way after an injury or illness damages your spinal cord. But there’s hope. While your future may look different than what you once imagined, the specialists at Cleveland Clinic can help you navigate your new normal. We’re ready to care for you — physically, mentally and emotionally — from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic spinal cord injury rehab experts is easy. We’ll help you get the care you need.
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