One of the most important decisions any traumatic brain or spinal cord injury survivor and his or her family will make is where the survivor will spend the rehabilitation phase of treatment. Choosing the right rehabilitation center will ensure that the survivor makes the most amount of gains possible, and will also contribute to the inspiration and strength the survivor will need to draw upon to cope with lifelong injuries and complications. Determining which rehabilitation facility a survivor should choose comprises much more than finding one that is close to home or accepts the right insurance. Instead, it’s a much longer process that involves visits, questions, and comparison.
The following list of rehabilitation facilities is divided by state, and includes all of the contact information you need to begin inquiries. In the end, only you can determine which facility best suits your particular needs.
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What Do All the Acronyms Mean?
All rehabilitation centers are not created alike! You’ll notice in the state list that certain centers are accredited by CARF or have BSCIP designations. Still others are called “Model System Centers.” What do these mean?
Rehabilitation centers that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) must meet a minimum standard of care, and generally offer a wide variety of services. For the most part, centers that are accredited are preferable to general rehabilitation programs. For more information on exactly what a center needs to do to become accredited, you can log on to www.carf.org.
The Department of Health’s Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) also gives the designation of Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program (BSCIP) to facilities that meet certain criteria and standards. Facilities with this designation must first be accredited by CARF, and are required to admit at least 40 new brain or spinal cord injury patients per year.
Model Systems Centers are highly specialized hospitals that have programs that are specifically designed for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries. This designation is granted by the National Institute on Disability Research and Rehabilitation (NIDRR) and is only given to those centers proven to be leaders in medical research and patient care. These centers work together to share information, conduct research, and improve the outcomes for patients with both spinal cord injury and brain injury. To date there are 16 TBI Model Systems and 14 SCI Model Systems.
Choosing a Center
Regardless of the accolades and accreditations, it’s important that centers are further assessed to determine that they suit the survivors very particular needs. For example, centers who have treated a high volume of patients with similar injuries will have the most expertise. The current population should also be assessed. It’s best if the current population is similar in age and sex to the person considering entry, and it’s even better when current patients have similar levels and types of injuries.
Just as you would in making any other important decision, go armed with a list of questions designed to examine accreditations and designations, medical staff, areas of specialty, and specific program elements. Once you have the answers, you can determine which rehabilitation facility best suits the survivor’s needs.