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. 

Staff also may use functional electrical stimulation (FES) to help improve your movement in your arms, wrists and hands. In FES, small electric currents applied to specific muscles cause the muscles to contract. FES may help you perform tasks such as grasping or holding an item, and enhance your ability to perform daily living skills. FES may also be used as an exercise tool to promote overall fitness and wellness in your spinal cord injury recovery.

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.

Many therapy tools may be used in upper extremity nerve re-education, including 3-D computer technology that compensates gravity, to promote your nerve and muscle (neuromuscular) control while simulating daily life skills.

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.

Some people with tetraplegia 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.

  • 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 therapists 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 /spinal-cord-injury-rehabilitation-rst/ at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Integrated team. Mayo Clinic's spinal cord injury rehabilitation team is led by doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, bone and muscle surgery (orthopedic surgeons), and brain and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons). Your treatment team also includes nurses, mental health providers, physical therapists, occupational and recreational therapists, and other specialists.
  • Individualized care. Your doctors will create an individualized treatment plan to meet your needs. Therapists 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.
  • Treatment and follow-up care. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff offer a full range of spinal cord injury rehabilitation services. Your spinal cord injury rehabilitation team provides inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and lifelong care. Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic researchers study outcomes, rehabilitation options and potential treatments for people with spinal cord injuries and conduct clinical trials.

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 trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation and other staff 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 in Minnesota.

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

For information regarding admission to the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program, call the admissions coordinator at 507-266-6442 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. For information regarding outpatient appointments, please call 507-284-5000 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Pediatric specialists trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation care for children with spinal cord injuries who require rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Children needing inpatient treatment receive care at Mayo Eugenio Litta Children's Hospital at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

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.

Mayo Clinic researchers conduct many studies related to spinal cord injury, including nerve regeneration in the spinal cord system and diaphragmatic pacing system, among others.

Publications

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

Mar. 16, 2012