If you've experienced a spinal cord injury, you may benefit from therapy to help improve physical function in your upper extremities — your shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and hands.

Therapists use several techniques to restore movement needed in your daily life, including nerve re-education, muscle strengthening, task training and others. Therapists work with you to reduce your long-term complications and help you regain the ability to perform self-care and daily activities.

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors and staff have helped thousands of people recover from traumatic spinal cord injuries and nontraumatic spinal disorders using many therapies.

    Mayo Clinic's rehabilitation professionals, including physicians, therapists and nurses, have expertise in helping you enhance functional abilities in your upper extremities. The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) has accredited the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Facilities at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.

  • Integrated team. Mayo Clinic's spinal cord injury rehabilitation team is led by doctors who have subspecialty certification in spinal cord injury medicine. In addition, the doctors are trained and board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, bone and muscle surgery (orthopedic surgeons), and brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons).

    Your treatment team includes subspecialty-certified rehabilitation nurses, Ph.D.-level rehabilitation neuropsychologists, subspecialty-trained spinal cord injury physical and occupational therapists, recreational therapists, and other specialists.

  • Individualized care. Your spinal cord injury physicians and team will create an individualized treatment plan to meet your needs. The team members will work with you to determine if upper extremity functional restoration may help meet your needs.

    The team considers you and your family to be an integral part of the treatment team, and you'll be informed and involved in making decisions and setting goals.

  • Lifelong care. Mayo Clinic doctors who have subspecialty certification in spinal cord injury as well as training in physical medicine and rehabilitation work with other staff to offer a full range of spinal cord injury rehabilitation services. Your spinal cord injury rehabilitation team provides the full spectrum of inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and lifelong care based on your current needs.

    Specialists in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program are specially trained and certified to meet the unique needs of children.

  • Research. Mayo Clinic researchers have robust, ongoing studies that range from stem cell interventions to outcome studies of Mayo's clinical populations and the different rehabilitation options. Mayo Clinic researchers also conduct clinical trials.

At Mayo Clinic, rehabilitation after a spinal cord injury involves a multifaceted approach:

  • Subspecialty board-certified doctors. These doctors are specifically trained in care for people with spinal cord injuries.
  • Physical and occupational therapy. Mayo Clinic physical and occupational therapists will work with you to help improve physical function in your upper extremities — your shoulders, arms, forearms, wrists and hands.
  • Assistive technology. Many therapy tools may be used in upper extremity nerve re-education, including 3-D computer technology that compensates for gravity, to promote your nerve and muscle (neuromuscular) control while simulating daily life skills. Staff also may use functional electrical stimulation (FES) to help improve your movement in your arms, wrists and hands.
  • Specialized support devices. Therapists also may use a combination of other tools to help improve your upper extremity weakness, including specialty splints and orthoses, mobile arm supports, gravity-assisting devices, and customized adaptations. These tools may help you change your approach to daily life skills.
  • Surgery. Some people with quadriplegia may benefit from surgical reconstruction to restore arm and hand function. An integrated team will evaluate you to determine if surgical reconstruction is an appropriate treatment option for you.

The full range of Mayo Clinic expertise is available to all people who come for evaluation and treatment at Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for rehabilitation by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors with subspecialty certification in spinal cord injury and specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation work with other staff to care for people with spinal cord injuries who may benefit from upper extremity functional restoration in the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota.

You'll need a physician's referral to be considered for admission to the inpatient program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

Specialists in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program care for children with spinal cord injuries who require rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota. Children needing inpatient treatment receive care at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital at Mayo Clinic.

Your child will need a physician's referral to be considered for admission to the inpatient program or for an appointment in the outpatient program.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct research in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, including studying upper extremity functional restoration and other therapies for people with spinal cord injuries. Researchers also study outcomes, new treatment options and other areas related to spinal cord injury rehabilitation. Read more about spinal cord injury research.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on spinal cord injury rehabilitation on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Mar. 11, 2015