Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation

Overcoming challenges on the road to recovery
Spinal cord injury (SCI) recovery involves significant challenges and important choices. Where you go for treatment makes a difference. Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation is dedicated to providing comprehensive care, advanced treatment, technologies, training and support needed to help restore your strength, skills and independence. While it takes only seconds for an SCI to occur, the impact can last a lifetime.

New challenges can seem overwhelming. We understand these challenges and are here to provide support throughout your recovery. Our highly specialized SCI team works closely with you and your family to help achieve your goals, maximize neurological recovery, optimize function and get you home to the most independent life possible.

A female patient with a spinal cord injury, learning to walk with the assistance of a therapist.

The Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation difference

As one of the largest brain injury rehabilitation programs in the country, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation treats more patients with complex medical, physical and cognitive needs. This gives us unparalleled expertise and experience to address your individual challenges, goals and hopes for the future.

  • Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas is one of only 10 centers nationwide -- and the only hospital in Texas -- to be designated as a Model System for the treatment and research of spinal cord injury by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

    Patients in a Model System facility benefit from multidisciplinary medical care advanced treatment, and innovative research to optimize rehabilitation outcomes.

    The Spinal Cord Injury Specialty Program at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas is highly specialized and designed to meet an individual’s unique physical and/or functional needs after sustaining an SCI.

    The program admits patients who have had traumatic injuries as well as those with non-traumatic spinal cord disorders. At Dallas, we care for incomplete injuries from C1 – Sacrum and complete injuries from C4 – Sacrum.

  • We draw on the knowledge of a team of spinal cord injury (SCI) specialists to address the medical, physical, functional and emotional issues you face. This interdisciplinary team is led by a physiatrist, a physician board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The team also includes rehabilitation nurses; physical, occupational, speech, respiratory and recreation therapists; psychologists and neuropsychologists; dietitians; case managers; and other clinical and support staff, as needed.

  • Treatment is tailored to your specific needs and goals and carefully integrated to help you:

    • Improve physical function and mobility
    • Develop strength, skills and strategies to perform daily activities
    • Manage breathing and respiratory issues
    • Manage spasticity and pain
    • Improve bladder and bowel function
    • Use adaptive equipment and technologies to increase independence
    • Address any psychological, emotional, social or other difficulties as you adjust to life ahead
    • Return home, to work, school or community activities with as much independence and confidence as possible
  • You will benefit from a minimum of three hours of therapy per day, five days a week including physical, occupational and/or speech and other therapies.1 The skills and strategies you learn will be reinforced by your nursing team and through recreational activities. Depending the level of your injury and abilities, you may be fitted for a wheelchair and other assistive equipment, including electronic aids to assist with daily tasks.

    You and your family will also be given the educational training needed to help maintain overall health and well-being following your discharge. When you’re ready, we’ll coordinate your discharge, help arrange for any required equipment and provide access to community resources that may be available to you. Our goal, like yours, is to move you forward with as much independence and confidence as possible.

  • To help you return home and resume work, school, community and/or social activities, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation provides unparalleled continuity of care. We are here to help you manage your health from inpatient to outpatient and we offer lifelong follow-up. This includes medical, therapy, wheelchair and mobility, driving and other specialized services to meet your ongoing or changing needs.

  • On average, patients at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation Institute have greater improvement during their stay and greater functional abilities upon discharge, based on national benchmarks2 that measure factors such as mobility and the ability to perform daily living activities.

  • Working closely with the research and education scientists at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation, we are exploring many new and exciting avenues of treatment. We balance hands-on treatment with leading-edge technologies to support your individual recovery and research the most promising new avenues of care.

A distinguished leader in spinal cord injury research

Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems LogoA unique designation

Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation has consistently been at the forefront of innovative spinal cord and traumatic brain injury care and research. Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation - Dallas is one of only 18 organizations nationwide designated as a SCI Model Systems Center.

Patients in a Model System facility benefit from multidisciplinary medical care advanced treatment, and innovative research to optimize rehabilitation outcomes.

Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas has been awarded Model System grants by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), which fund groundbreaking, next-generation medical research for patients with spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries and follows them throughout their lifetime.

Click here to learn more about the SCI Model System.

Your progress. Our programs.

Every patient is unique and our approach to rehabilitation reflects a patient’s lifestyle and functional ability level. These specialty services are designed to help both during the inpatient rehabilitation stay as well as after discharge. Please note that not all programs listed are at all locations.

  • Our individualized and comprehensive education program is designed to give patients with a spinal cord injury and their loved ones crucial information needed to adapt and recover from their injury. Our SCI-specific lessons, SCI Teaching And Reintegration Training, are called S.T.A.R.T. classes. The curriculum was developed by the SCI multidisciplinary team using the most up-to-date research in spinal cord injury.

  • We will provide your family or caregiver with proper training and tools to assist you when you return home.

  • Our wheelchair seating and positioning clinic provides a comprehensive evaluation by an expert therapist. This helps identify the optimal wheelchair and seating system for an individual’s specific needs. Our clinic goal is to maximize function and efficiency with wheelchair mobility by creating a custom wheelchair using information about strength, posture, balance, skin/pressure issues, pain, range of motion and tone to guide the selection and configuration of the appropriate wheelchair base and components.

  • At Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas, our SCI Max program is a comprehensive day rehabilitation program designed for persons who have experienced a spinal cord injury.

    We understand the hurdles you will encounter, and our SCI MAX program can help. This intensive individualized therapy program for spinal cord injury patients will help you return to what you love.

    • At Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas, we admit acute and chronic traumatic and non-traumatic Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder AIS A-D patients
    • Participants must have the ability to participate in 6 hours of therapy, 3 days a week (Monday – Wednesday – Friday) without significant fatigue or medical compromise
    • Patients must be free of medical issues preventing active participation in the intensive therapy program (e.g. wounds, strict sitting protocols, unmanaged pain and unmanaged hypotension/cardiac issues)
    • Patients must have an established bowel and bladder program
    • The caregiver must be able to attend family training and education (10a – 4p) on designated days
    • Length of stay based on individual progress and discharge goals

    Program offerings:

    • Specialized team with physical and occupational therapists (speech therapy available if needed)
    • Aquatic therapy
    • Recreation therapy
    • Adjustment Counseling/Neuropsychology services
    • Social services
    • Multiple technologies and equipment designed specifically for SCI patients, including EKSO Robotic Gait Device, RT 300, XCite, Standing Frame and LiteGait
    • Limited transportation assistance available on case-by-case basis

    *Available at BSWIR – Dallas location only. For more information on the SCI MAX Program, click here.

  • We provide aquatic therapy to our Dallas patients while they are undergoing SCI rehabilitation. It helps with spasticity management, improves cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and strength. It also helps reduce pain, which allows for early weight bearing and eventually fuels functional recovery.

    Our pool is accessible for people of all ages and injury types.

    *Available at BSWIR – Dallas location only.

  • Transitioning back into the home and community after inpatient rehabilitation can be challenging. For those who need help with the transition, our Real Life Rehab program at our Dallas hospital is great resource. Our program was one of the first of its kind in the nation and is an integral part of our continuum of care.
    For our Dallas patients with neurological and spinal cord injuries, Real Life Rehab may be the best therapy approach after leaving the hospital. We work with you in your own environment as you transition back into your daily routines.

    Knowing that additional adjustment issues emerge after leaving the hospital, the Real Life Rehab team stays in close contact with your rehabilitation psychologist to reinforce positive communication and help keep you on track for long-term success. Our therapy team is made up of specially trained physical, occupational and speech therapists, with neuropsychological and rehab psychological consults available.

    We provide family training, accessibility/safety checks, ongoing equipment adjustments and continuing techniques to improve your functional skills.

    The Real Life Rehab philosophy is "therapy for living, not living for therapy." Our goal is to work with you in your environment to ensure that the skills you've learned in traditional inpatient or outpatient settings easily translate into your real life.

    *Available at BSWIR – Dallas location only. For more information on the Real Life Rehab Program, click here. 

  • Prefabricated and custom splinting and/or orthotics are used to address a variety positioning needs and facilitate the success of our patients. Our knowledgeable therapy staff are trained in custom upper and lower extremity splinting and casting, which helps prevent further complications from poor positioning. This improves range of motion and use of your extremities.

    Long-standing relationships with local vendors allow us to provide in-house fittings to initiate the custom orthotic process. Assisting with custom positioning devices is another way we help meet your physical recovery and rehabilitation goals.

  • To better support our SCI patients, we've partnered with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation's Peer & Family Support Program. This program is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living or caring for individuals with paralysis. We provide paralyzed individuals, their family members and caregivers a connection for hope, support and a way of moving forward with life. Individual peer visits and group sessions are provided to patients in rehab. Even after discharge from the hospital, the program provides ongoing support to navigate challenges when integrating back home and into the community.

  • Community reintegration outings are organized by a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and implemented as a multidisciplinary treatment along with occupational and physical therapists. The outings help patients build confidence in real life settings where they apply physical mobility and functional skills outside of the hospital setting in preparation for discharge.

    We offer an after-hours adaptive fitness and aquatics programs that provide an opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle after discharge. We provide access to our pool, gym, equipment, and technologies to maintain and/or improve fitness levels and optimizing function.

  • This outreach support program for individuals with spinal cord injury covers a range of topics from returning to work and school, traveling, health awareness and recreational activities. The group is open to anyone impacted by spinal cord injury, including friends and family. The support group meets monthly with patients, family members, community leaders and treatment team members in attendance.

    Learn more about our support groups by location.

  • To help reinforce your skills and restore your spirit, Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation’s specially trained Canine Companions may be part of your therapy program. Our therapists work with these remarkable dogs to engage patients in a wide range of activities that support the rehabilitation process.

    *Canine Companions are only available at select locations.

Technology and research power recovery

Our therapy programs incorporate some of the most advanced technologies available for spinal cord injury rehabilitation. The equipment and devices used at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation will help in your functional recovery and assist in everyday tasks.

We balance hands-on treatment with leading-edge technologies to support your individual recovery and research the most promising new avenues of care.

Among the many advances now available to appropriate patients:

  • Body weight supported treadmill training to improve gait
  • Robotic devices, such as an exoskeleton, to build strength, enhance mobility and improve arm or hand function
  • Electrical stimulation to reduce the loss of muscle tissue and improve cardiovascular function
  • Electronic devices, called environmental control units, to assist with daily tasks and increase independence
  • Adaptive gaming and other computer-based tools to support participation in leisure activities and greater social interaction
  • Medications to manage spasticity (stiff muscles)

Adaptive technology

The adaptive technology program strives to increase patient knowledge of consumer-based environmental aids. These devices can improve independence in daily living and provide access to common communications tool like cell phones, tablets and computers.

Following a traumatic injury, many people want to resume their prior work and social roles. This program is led by skilled occupational therapists and rehabilitation engineers who work closely with the patient's primary therapy team to accomplish these goals. Individualized plans are developed in which patients may be referred to a rehabilitation engineer for more extensive evaluation and education.

Exoskeleton Walking Device

Play the accessible version of the “Exoskeleton Walking Device” video

We're Here to Help

Studies3 show that people with spinal cord injuries treated at a rehabilitation hospital like Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation have a higher level of independence and are more likely to be discharged to home than those treated in other care settings.

1Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP). "Rehabilitation After Spinal Cord Injuries: The Sooner, the Better." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 2016.


3Assessment of Patient Outcomes of Rehabilitative Care Provided in Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) and After Discharge. Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, LLC. 2014.