Mayo Clinic's approach

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.

Expertise and rankings

  • 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.

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

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

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.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

March 11, 2015
  1. Spinal cord injury: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Accessed Dec. 3, 2014.
  2. Gutierrez JA, et al. Physical therapy interventions for the prevention of fractures during spinal cord injury. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Accessed Dec. 3, 2014.
  3. Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 17, 2014.
  4. Provider profile. CARF International. Accessed Dec. 1, 2014.
  5. Ho CH, et al. Functional electrical stimulation and spinal cord injury. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. 2014;25:631.
  6. Christopherson MW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 12, 2015.

Upper extremity functional restoration for spinal cord injury