The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDDR) has selected the Spinal Cord Injury Program at National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) to receive the prestigious designation of Model Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) System. NRH joins an elite rank—only 14 SCI programs were chosen nationwide for this honor.
The new Model System—to be known as the National Capital Spinal Cord Injury Model System (NCSCIMS)—will provide services to the SCI community not only in the metro DC area but on a national level as well through collaborative efforts with other NIDRR SCI Model Systems across the country. The new Model System at NRH builds on two unique elements: an existing Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on SCI that focuses on the reduction of secondary conditions in those with SCI—the exact conditions that often impede an individual’s return to school, the workforce and the community. Further, the Model System will also strive to meet the very distinct needs of the SCI population of Washington, DC, which is predominantly underserved, poor, and with low levels of literacy. The Model System will seek to address the extenuating ramifications of SCI in these individuals, a disproportionate number of whom have acquired SCI due to a violent cause.
NRH was noted as an ideal site for the NCSCIMS as it is the primary provider of SCI services within the DC metro area, the sole medical rehabilitation provider for MedStar Health, and it is adjacent to MedSTAR, the largest trauma center in the region. NRH is also the focus of a federal effort to build a model response system with regard to emergencies such as terrorism. In addition, by virtue of its close proximity to national elected officials, policy makers and news media, the NCSCIMS at NRH promises to be a particularly compelling advocate for those with SCI.
Over the next five years, the NCSCIMS will continue to build on an already strong SCI system of care and carry out two site-specific and two national collaborative research projects. Dr. Suzanne Groah will direct the new center.