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Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders

OUR MISSION: Edward Hines Jr. VA Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Service is to partner within a continuum of care with each Veteran and his/her family, to optimize the Veteran’s health, enhance their quality of life, and promote their independence in order to attain the Veteran’s individual goals


Edward Hines Jr. VA Spinal Cord Injury (SCI/D) Center is one of the four original VA SCI/D Centers and provides a full range of services based on a Hub & Spokes model of care.

The 58-bed comprehensive SCI/D Center provides acute medical treatment as well as ongoing medical care and rehabilitation services in a continuum of care that include acute medical inpatient units, an inpatient and outpatient acute rehabilitation program, an outpatient clinic, home care program, and a 30-bed Community Living Center named the Residential Care Facility (SCI-RCF).

SCI/D Services Provided

  • SCI/D Medical Care
  • CARF Rehabilitation Services
  • Social Work
  • Wound Care
  • Pain Management
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Kinesiotherapy
  • Speech Pathology
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Nursing
  • Nutrition Services and Consultation
  • Specialty Pharmacist
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Chaplain Services
  • Telehealth Services
  • Assistive Technology
  • Rehabilitation Engineer
  • Vocational Retraining
  • Educational/Vocational Therapy
  • Home Safety and Accessibility Evaluations
  • SCI/D Respite Care
  • Onsite consults to Radiology, Acute Medical, and Surgical Services
  • Advocacy Services
Spinal Cord Building

Obtain Benefits/ How To Apply

To be eligible for SCI/D services, a Veteran must be enrolled in the VA system of care.
There are multiple options to enroll:

Apply Online:            
You can apply online: Apply for health care benefits

Apply by phone:

You can apply for enrollment of your benefits or update your information by phone by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Eastern Time).

Apply by mail:

You can apply by mail by printing the 10-10EZ form or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) to have the form mailed to you.

Send your completed application to:

Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Rd., Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329

Apply in person:

You can apply in person by visiting a VA Medical Center or clinic nearest you to apply for enrollment or if you are already enrolled, to update your information.

Please visit the VA enrollment site for more detailed information.

If you are a Veteran that is already enrolled in the VA system of care and believe that you have a qualifying diagnosis, speak to your provider about a referral to our program. Individuals at an outside facility looking to transfer their care to the Hines SCI/D service can contact the Hines transfer coordinator at Ph#: 708-202-8387 ext. 22404.

SCI Medicine Acute Care

The SCI/D Center has two 30-bed acute care inpatient units, fully staffed by a dedicated multidisciplinary treatment team including SCI/D Physicians, nursing, nutrition, social work, physical and occupational therapy, psychology, spiritual support, educational therapy, recreational therapy. Other services important to a person with a spinal cord injury, such as speech and swallow dysfunction, psychiatry, urology, neurology, neurosurgery, infection control, plastics, surgery, and vocational rehabilitation are available through in-house consultants.

CARF Rehabilitation Program

Our Vision

That by providing necessary support and understanding, all injured Veterans will fully achieve their cognitive, emotional, and functional potential.

The Hines SCI/D Acute Rehabilitation Program has been CARF accredited since 2002. From 2009 through 2022 about 263 injured Veterans have completed the acute rehabilitation program. Approximately 41% of our rehabilitation patients have suffered a traumatic injury resulting in paralysis. Fifty-nine percent of our rehabilitation patients are admitted because of a spinal cord dysfunction resulting from non-traumatic diseases or disorders.

Our SCI/D Acute Rehabilitation Unit is fully staffed by a dedicated interdisciplinary treatment team. The Hines SCI/D Rehabilitation Program fosters and maintains patients’ overall health by providing medical, physical, psychological, vocational, recreational education and therapy as well as spiritual support for attaining the highest level of independence and quality-of-life.  

Other services important to persons with a spinal cord injury, such as speech and swallow dysfunction, psychiatry, urology, neurology, neurosurgery, infection control, plastics, general surgery, and vocational rehabilitation are available through in-house consultants.

We continue to follow Veterans after discharge including a 90-day follow up which is completed through an inpatient stay. The Veteran will meet with each service to review current status, progress and have the ability to voice any concerns after transitioning into the community.

Our Programs 

Hines SCI/D Center offers rehabilitation to Veterans with 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.

Hines SCI/D Center has two rehabilitation programs.

CARF Intensive Acute Rehabilitation I   

Acute Rehabilitation I 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. An Acute Rehabilitation I patient may enter Acute Rehabilitation II to maintain continuous care and therapy to focus on wheelchair, family training and at times driving instruction. The average overall patients receive one hour each of physical therapy and occupational therapy along with recreational, speech language pathology, mental health support, vocational therapy, and a rehabilitation engineer specializing in custom assistive devices and technology as indicated.

Rehabilitation II

A Rehabilitation II patient does not meet the criteria for acute rehab. Treatment includes wheelchair and caregiver training, driver rehabilitation, and transition to home services. During Rehabilitation II, 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 a interdisciplinary therapy team with the goal of optimizing functional abilities. Interventions may include wheelchair evaluations, wheelchair training and exoskeleton therapy program.

Rehabilitation Services Includes

  • SCI/D Physicians
  • SCI/D Nurses
  • Acute Rehabilitation Case Manager
  • Occupational Therapy: Self-care and Independent Living skills
  • Physical Therapy: Mobility and transfer training
  • Prosthetic and/or Orthotic evaluation and training
  • Rehabilitation Engineer
  • Assistive Technology
  • Psychological Counseling Services
  • Dietician Services
  • Pain Management
  • Respiratory management
  • Bowel or Bladder Management
  • Sexuality counseling
  • Communication training
  • Speech Pathology
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Specialty Pharmacist
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Chaplain Services
  • Telehealth Services
  • SCI/D Educational and Vocational Therapy
  • Whole Health Program
  • Patient, family or caregiver education and training
  • Onsite consults to Radiology, Acute Medical, and Surgical Services
  • Advocacy Services

Outpatient Care

The SCI/D Outpatient clinic provides continuity of care after inpatient discharge with the ultimate goal of assisting people to achieve a healthy lifestyle. The outpatient clinic 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. We provide comprehensive medical care for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injuries including spinal cord disorders caused by Multiple Sclerosis. The clinic offers prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers, chronic pain management, spasticity treatments including Botox and baclofen pump medical management. We offer psychological support for life stressors and/or adjustment to SCI/D.  

The SCI/D Outpatient clinic is staffed with certified physicians, psychologists, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, therapists, dietician, health care technician, and a medical support assistant. The clinic provides EKG, bladder scans, tele-retinal examinations, and screening for diabetics.

The clinic offers preventative care such as immunizations, smoking cessation referrals, and weight management. Individualized care is provided to Veterans including education on the causes and management of autonomic dysreflexia. The clinic also provides Wellness Visits through VVC. 

Home Care Programs

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 additional medical problems. SCI/D Home Care staff help Veterans and family members make a smooth and effective transition from 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 improve quality of life. Each Veteran will have a designated primary physician, nurse, and social worker. 

  Home care staff conduct home evaluations to address issues with safety and accessibility. In addition to Veterans enrolled in the home care program, home care staff also monitors SCI/D Veterans residing in community nursing homes. 

SCI/D Community Living Center (SCI/RCF)

The SCI/D Community Living Center is also known as the SCI Residential Care Facility (RCF)  is a 30-bed residential long-term care facility especially designed and staffed for Veterans with spinal cord injury and associated disorders. The facility is located on Edward Hines VA Hospital Campus.

The center offers residency to Veterans with SCI/D in a community-based care setting.  The ongoing focus of the RCF is to provide an active, social community system for maximum enhancement of functional and supportive resources. Residents are encouraged to participate fully in available activities including recreational and gainful endeavors.

Every Resident is under the medical care of an Attending Physician who is a member of the Hines VA Hospital Spinal Cord Injury staff.  Your Attending Physician collaborates with the Nurse Practitioner and nursing staff in planning your healthcare.  Additional on-unit staff services include social work, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiotherapy, and educational and recreational therapy; a dietician and pharmacist are also involved on the team. 

Other services often important to a Veteran with SCI/D such as speech, psychiatry, urology, neurology, and surgery among others, are available through in-house consultations.

The admission process entails a consult from a Veteran’s primary care attending requesting admission. Our multidisciplinary team will then review the Veteran’s chart for medical appropriateness and fit for community living.  Given the focus on community living, we are unfortunately unable to offer hospice and respite care as well as care for Veterans requiring respiratory ventilation at this time. 

Our Goals 

We are committed to a holistic approach to those in need of healthcare. 

  • To restore, maintain, and promote health and functional ability.
  • To minimize the physical, psychological, and emotional effects of disability on both the Resident and the family.
  • To provide a stimulating climate of motivation and expectancy which fosters maximum self-care and satisfaction of daily living for each Resident.
  • To promote healthcare ranging from an active rehabilitation program to a maintenance supportive program.
Rehabilitation Outcomes