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Spinal Cord Injury Update

Summer 2011: Volume 20, Number 1


Transitions program paves way to independence, quality of life

For someone with a spinal cord injury (SCI), appropriate rehabilitative care is the first step toward maximizing functioning and quality of life. But what happens when a patient leaves the hospital? Navigating a new life after release from the hospital can be a challenge for people with SCI.

“Promoting long-term health in a person with SCI hinges not only on good medical care, but on learning about and adopting healthful habits and lifestyle choices,” said Maria R. (Rina) Reyes, M.D., UW assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and medical director of the UW Medicine SCI Rehabilitation Program. “Outside the health care setting, a person has the potential to fulfill physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs.”

Now, thanks to generous private support, participants in the new Spinal Cord Injury Transitions Health Maintenance and Wellness Program have access to services beyond the top-ranked rehabilitative care they receive at UW Medicine. These services aim to help patients make the transition to independence.

The newly launched Transitions program is made possible by a $95,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and a matching gift from Mr. Kenny Salvini, his family and friends. The Neilsen Foundation, which has provided UW Medicine with generous program and research funding in recent years, is dedicated to supporting treatment- and cure-based SCI research as well as innovative programs that improve quality of life with SCI.

Transitions promotes lifelong wellness, independence and participation by introducing and encouraging healthful practices as individuals with SCI make the shift from acute, inpatient care to community living,” Reyes explained.

A resource for patients during the critical first two years after injury, Transitions will directly serve about 100 individuals each year — primarily Washington residents, but also patients from Alaska, Montana and Idaho — and is a resource for our broader SCI population as well.

Two individuals with spinal cord injuries using ergometers.

The individualized program provides opportunities to participate in supervised adapted exercise, join community recreation programs, master adapted driving skills, make use of technology that promotes vocational exploration, and access counseling services. The program components, most of which are not funded by the majority of common insurers in Washington State, include:

Drawing on the expertise of the UW Medicine SCI Rehabilitation Program, Transitions provides a multidimensional and ground-breaking level of post-rehabilitative care in our community that integrates wellness and redefines health promotion after SCI.

For more information, visit the Transitions website at

http://sci.washington.edu/transitions or email sciwell@uw.edu.

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