Inpatient and postdischarge rehabilitation services provided in the first year after spinal cord injury: Findings from the SCIRehab study

Gale G. Whiteneck, Julie Gassaway, Marcel P. Dijkers, Daniel P. Lammertse, Flora Hammond, Allen W. Heinemann, Deborah Backus, Susan Charlifue, Pamela H. Ballard, Jeanne M. Zanca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objective To examine the amount and type of therapy services received in inpatient and postdischarge settings during the first year after spinal cord injury (SCI). Design Prospective observational longitudinal cohort design. Data were obtained from systematic recording of interventions by clinicians and from patient interview. Setting Inpatient and postdischarge rehabilitation programs. Participants Patients (N=493) with traumatic SCI admitted to 6 rehabilitation centers participating in the SCIRehab study. Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures Hours of therapy by physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy, recreation therapy, psychology, social work/case management, and nursing education during initial inpatient rehabilitation and postdischarge up to the first anniversary of injury. Inpatient data were collected prospectively by the treating clinicians; postdischarge service data were collected by patient self-report during follow-up interviews. Results Of the total hours spent on these rehabilitation interventions during the first year after injury, 44% occurred after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. Participants received 56% of their PT hours after discharge and 52% of their OT hours, but only a minority received any postdischarge services from other rehabilitation disciplines. While wide variation was found in the total hours of inpatient treatment across all disciplines, the variation in the total hours of postdischarge services was greater, with the interquartile range of postdischarge services being twice that of the inpatient services. Conclusions SCI rehabilitation is often given in a care continuum, with inpatient rehabilitation being only the beginning. Reductions in inpatient SCI rehabilitation length of stay are well documented, but the postdischarge services that may replace some inpatient treatment appear to be greater than previously reported. The availability and impact of postdischarge care should be studied in greater detail to capture the wide array of postdischarge services and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Health services research
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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