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Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders Centers

The mission of the James J. Peters VA SCI/D Center is to promote the health, independence, quality of life, and productivity of individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries & Disorders (SCI/D), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) through state-of-the-art clinical care, education and research.

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James J Peters VA SCI/D Center offers rehabilitation to Veterans with a documented diagnosis of spinal cord injury/disorders who are experiencing a reduced level of function. The patient must have the cognitive capability and motivation to be able to participate in and benefit from rehabilitation. 

The James J Peters VAMC SCI/D Acute Rehabilitation Program has been CARF accredited since 2003. 


CARF Intensive Acute Rehabilitation

The Acute Rehabilitation program provides services for those medically stable patients able to participate. Therapy will provide six days a week for up to three hours a day to attain Functional Independence Measured goals. Patients work to achieve maximum outcomes in occupational/self-care activities, mobility and transfers, bowel and bladder management, and psychological adjustment and wellness. Additional programming may include wheelchairs, family training, and if appropriate, driving instruction and vehicle modifications/ adaptations. The average overall patients receive one and a half hours of physical therapy and occupational therapy along with recreational, speech-language pathology, mental health support, dietary consultative services, etc. 


Restorative Rehabilitation 

A Restorative Rehabilitation patient does not meet the criteria for acute rehab. Treatment includes wheelchair and caregiver training, driver rehabilitation, and transition to home services. During Restorative Rehabilitation program, patients may receive moderate therapy to improve in some areas of functioning while reinforcing and stabilizing skills in others. 


Outpatient Rehabilitation 

The outpatient rehabilitation program offers an interdisciplinary therapy team with the goal of optimizing functional abilities. Interventions may include functional mobility training, wheelchair evaluations, wheelchair training and assistive technology training, and prescription. 


Specialty Rehabilitative Services: 

Aquatic therapy  

Aquatic therapy is offered at the Bronx VA for both inpatients and outpatients. Our pool is fully accessible, with a ramp to enter for wheelchair users and pool steps / ladders. Weights, noodles, and floats are available for a wide variety of exercises and treatments, and a lifeguard is always present during pool sessions. 

 The therapeutic pool is typically at a temperature between 88 degrees – 92 degrees, and pool sessions are held 3x/week for the SCI department. We accept Veterans who have been diagnosed with a Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. 

 Some of the benefits of Aquatic Therapy include reducing pain, swelling in the arms and legs, a safer medium for balance and ambulation training, general strengthening and stretching, and postural training. 

 If interested, please contact your primary care provider or email Christine Wang, PT @ for more information. 


Dry Needling 

Dry Needling (DN) is a technique utilized by trained physical therapists to address patients’ neuromusculoskeletal pain and mobility restrictions. It is a conservative modality that aims at improving function by addressing muscle spasms and other underlying tissue dysfunctions.  

Following physical evaluation and assessment, the therapist will gently insert a thin filiform needle (similar to an acupuncture needle) into the problematic region. The goal is to stimulate the underlying tissues to improve pain, range of motion, and relieve muscle spasms. Treatment is typically paired with other soft tissue mobilization techniques and therapeutic exercises.  

DN is commonly used to treat areas of muscle restriction, spasticity, and chronic inflammation. To determine if DN is an appropriate addition to your treatment plan, contact your primary care physician or email Maia Rissland, PT, DPT at



Our 48 bed newly renovated Inpatient Unit with state-of-the-art equipment is available for admission to address an acute rehabilitation need or any significant medical issues.  

During your stay, a physician will be in charge of your treatment. Our nursing personnel will provide you professional nursing care, and the ancillary staff will assist to make your stay a pleasant one. 

Our program has experts in areas such as medical and surgical sub-specialties and dedicated certified ostomy & wound care team. 

We can provide respite stay of up to 30 days per year based on bed availability. 


The SCI/D Outpatient clinic provides individualized comprehensive medical care for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.     

  • Provides continuity of care after inpatient discharge with the ultimate goal of assisting people to achieve a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Serves the important function of performing comprehensive preventive annual physical exams in person and through VA Video Connect (VVC) Telemedicine for the veterans enrolled in our program.  
  •  Offers prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, chronic pain management, spasticity treatments including Botox and baclofen pump medical management. 
  •  Provides psychological evaluation, support for life stressors, and/or adjustment to SCI/D. 


The SCI/D Outpatient clinic is staffed with certified physicians, psychologists, registered nurses, social workers, therapists, dieticians, health care technicians, and a medical support assistant. The clinic provides EKG, bladder scans, tele-retinal examinations, and diabetes screening. A comprehensive education program is provided by our highly trained staff.  

Preventative care such as immunizations, smoking cessation referrals, and weight management is available. 

Outpatient Clinic hours are 8:00am – 4:30pm Monday-Friday for a primary care provider or any other member of the team to address your concerns. Please call for more information or to request an appointment. Walk-ins (roll-ins) are welcome!! 


Telehealth Services 

  • Monitors the clinical consequences of SCI, such as wounds, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, and pulmonary function.  
  • conducts post-discharge follow up after acute inpatient rehabilitation. 
  • Provides virtual consultation from our SCI Clinic throughout the VA network.   
  • Our clinicians can conduct individual visits in the comfort and privacy of your home. 


SCI/D Home Care Program 

The SCI/D Home Care provides ongoing in-home continuity of care and monitoring of the newly injured, as well as established Veterans at risk for the medical consequences of Spinal Cord Injury. SCI/D Home Care staff help Veterans and family members make a smooth and effective transition from the hospital to the community. 

The SCI/D Home Care interdisciplinary team members provide collaborative clinical care services such as skilled nursing, care management, psychosocial, rehabilitative, nutritional support, and skin and wound evaluation/management to keep you healthy in the community. Home evaluations are completed to address issues with safety and accessibility. 

If you are a Veteran residing in a VA Community Living Center, State Veteran Home or a community nursing home rest assure, our home care nurse will visit you regularly to ensure that your needs are being met. 


We are an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence.    

  • Provides state-of-the-art health care in a goal oriented, patient and family centered system. 
  • Interdisciplinary team of specialists is available for evaluation and treatment. 
  • Home evaluation, prescription of equipment, newest FDA approved therapies at no cost. 
  • Assistance with service connection.
  • Monthly support group for Veterans and their caregivers in person or via Telehealth. 
  • Hands-on training for Veterans and their caregivers. 


Clinic day and hours: Monday 8:00am-4:30pm. 

For more information call ension 5405 


We are the Designated VA Regional Center for the New York area and a MS Society Center of Excellence. 

  • Our Interdisciplinary team led by an MS specialized neurologist, includes registered nurse coordinator, neuropsychologist, physical and occupational therapists.
  • Provide Disease Modifying Drugs as appropriate at no cost.
  • A monthly support group facilitated by a psychologist with expertise in MS is available to Veterans and their caregivers in person or via Telehealth. 
  • Cognitive Remediation is offered weekly and is facilitated by a neuropsychologist with expertise in MS.  This intervention is offered both individually and in group format and can occur in person or via telehealth (VVC).  


Clinic day and hours: Wednesday 8:00am-4:30pm. 

For more information call ension 5405 


Recreation Therapy provides a spectrum of services, opportunities, and choice for Spinal Cord veterans across the continuum of care to maximize their rehabilitation potential, increase independence, and sustain a healthy and meaningful leisure lifestyle.  Recreation therapy programs promote health, disease prevention and improving quality of life such as adaptive yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, and wellness. Along with improving quality of life, Recreation Therapy enhances or maintains physical, cognitive abilities, provides opportunities for social communication skill development, creative expression, as well as spiritual expression.  Recreation education is an essential component to your rehabilitation.  Our professionals will help you discover the many leisure opportunities and resources available to people with a spinal cord injury.  Our Therapeutic Recreation Specialist encourages the patients to take advantage of the Community Reintegration Outings.  Taking part in Community Reintegration Outings will help you address wheelchair accessibility issues that you may encounter after discharge. 


Adaptive Sports 

Our SCI/D Center encourages participation in Adaptive Sports events.  Our Therapeutic Recreation Specialist works with SCI veterans in the many different athletic events both locally and nationwide: 


Water skiing                                          VA National Winter Sports Clinic  

Snow skiing                                           VA Wheelchair Games  

Rock climbing                                       VA Summer Sports Clinic 




Hand Cycling  


Neuropsychological Evaluations  

Neuropsychology is the study of how the brain functions and affects your behavior, mood, and thinking skills. Certain life-long conditions such as acquired brain injuries like stroke, concussion / brain injury, or degenerative illness (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) can produce changes in your functioning that can challenge your daily living.    


A Neuropsychological Assessment can help clarify one's current cognitive status, areas of strengths and weaknesses, and provide treatment recommendations for the whole team.  


Baseline comprehensive evaluations can assist in identifying cognitive changes and/or problem areas that may emerge with disease progression and the general aging process. Repeat evaluations every 1-2 years are also offered.   


Cognitive Remediation Therapy (Individual and Groups available)  

CRT is a specific, and research-backed type of therapy that focuses on:   

  • Stimulating the development of new brain pathways (neuroplasticity)   
  • Re-learning or training of strategies to improve functioning   
  • Learning coping strategies to reduce frustration  
  • Adoption of lifestyle changes to enhance brain health  


Individual Psychotherapy  

Talk therapy can come in many forms, and certain types can guide therapists to better understand their patients. Below are examples of types of psychotherapy we offer:  


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an active approach that helps individuals understand the connection among their thoughts and behaviors causing difficulties.  This is accomplished through experiments to challenge unhelpful thinking styles that can stop you from connecting with yourself, others, and the world.   


  • Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a present-focused approach that helps individuals understand their thoughts and emotions without judgement and shame to enhance your flexibility. This method of therapy is most helpful for those undergoing a major life transition, managing chronic illness and/or disability, or experiencing grief.  


Group Psychotherapy  


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis (CBT for MS) is a 10-week group psychotherapy focused on adjustment to early-stage MS (within 10 years of diagnosis). Examples of topics discussed in the group include adapting to living with MS, goal setting, symptom management, tackling negative or unhelpful thoughts, improving sleep, managing social relationships, and more.  


  • Coping Skills Group is a weekly group psychotherapy for individuals experiencing difficulties with emotional dysregulation. The group will focus on learning and practicing coping skills like mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.  


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a weekly group psychotherapy for individuals experiencing sleep difficulties.  The group will feature education about sleep, skills to tackle unhelpful thoughts about sleep, and tools to help you improve your sleep routine and environment.  



All services are provided in-person and via telehealth (VVC). 


Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Center at James J. Peters VAMC 

130 West Kingsbridge Road 

Bronx, NY 10468 

Main Number                                

Fax Number                      

SCI Admin Office                         ext. 5389 

Inpatient units                     ext. 5392/5393 

VA Travel Assistance                  ext. 5355 


SCI Outpatient Clinic 

Clinic Hours: Monday- Friday 8 am -4:30 pm; excluding Federal Holidays 

Clinic Appointment                          

Outpatient Therapy: 8 am – 4:30pm, excluding Federal Holidays 

Physical Therapy: ext. 3120 

Occupational Therapy: ext. 3120 

For Acute Issues after hours  

contact the Clinical Contact Center ext. 5301 or go to the nearest Emergency Department 

Are you traveling out of the area? Are you new to the area? 

New patient referrals 

A referral may be initiated by the individual, family, physician, social worker, or case manager. 



SCI/D Program Coordinator ext. 5616 

ALS/MS coordinator                                    ext. 5388 




Most individuals with injury or disease of the spinal cord have residual nerve connections, even if they have trouble moving their muscles. 

To strengthen these connections, we conduct multiple studies using different approaches: magnetic stimulation; electrical stimulation; medications; targeted physical exercises, and more. 

We study ways to improve numerous problems such as blood pressure control, movement and mobility, temperature control, metabolism, and bone strength. 

Each study has its own entry ‘criteria’. For information about specific research projects and eligibility criteria please check out our websites (BronxVA NeuroRecovery) (Spinal Cord Damage Research Center ( or contact us: 


Marinella Galea, MD

  • Chief Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders

  • Co-Director ALSA Certified Treatment Center

  • Co-Director MS Regional Center

Dr. Marinella Galea is a graduate of the University of Milan Medical School, Italy. She is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Spinal Cord Medicine.

She has been practicing since 2000 in the Bronx, at the James J Peters VAMC SCI Center. In 2017 she was appointed as the Chief of Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders.

During her tenure, Dr Galea has expanded the services offered by the SCI/D Center to include Veterans with Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Under her leadership, the JJPVAMC has become a Regional MS Center and has received the prestigious ALSA Treatment Center of Excellence Certification.

She specializes in the care and rehabilitation of persons with disability; her mission is to empower them to achieve their potential, and best possible quality of life. Dr Galea is an associate professor of PM&R at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and assistant professor of Medicine at New York Medical College.

Dr Galea has received funding to conduct research on the medical consequences of SCI and has published in numerous peer reviewed journals.

Stephen Kornfeld, DO

  • SCI/D Attending Physician

  • Director of SCI Resident Program

Stephen Kornfeld, DO is a graduate of Western University Health Sciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1992.

He completed a rotating osteopathic internship at Long Beach Hospital in Long Beach New York in 1992-1992, before starting his Residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mt. Sinai Hospital from 1993 to 1996. Prior to joining the Bronx VAMC in June of 2010, he served as Chief of Inpatient Rehabilitation at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. 

Here at the James J. Peters VAMC, he is an attending physiatrist, who participates in our Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) program. He is a co-investigator on many research studies at the Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, resulting in multiple peer review publications. He serves on the Pain Committee.

He is the Director of resident SCI rotations from One Brooklyn Health System, NYPH Columbia Cornell, Downstate, and New York Medical College Metropolitan Hospital PM&R programs, as well as medical students rotating in neurology/SCI from New York Medical College. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Human Performance at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, Dept. of Physical medicine and Rehabilitation, New York, NY, and Assistant Professor at the Department of Rehabilitation Regenerative Medicine at Columbia University, New York, NY.

He has received teaching excellence awards in 6/2022 and 6/2023 from New York Medical College Metropolitan Hospital.