Spinal cord injury and disorders
The VA Long Beach Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders (SCI) Center began operations in 1946 with a mission to serve Veterans from World Wars I and II. Today, we continue that mission by providing world class care to Veterans of all branches and all eras including those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our SCI Center is one of the largest of the 24 SCI centers within the Department of Veterans Affairs. With 90 in-patient beds, and a comprehensive out-patient program, we care for over 900 Veterans from across Southern California and the Las Vegas area. We also provide care to our active duty service members in cooperation with our nation’s military treatment facilities on a referral basis.
Along with world class care our mission includes advancing the science and training on spinal cord injuries and disorders. The Research and Training component of our program highlights the innovative spirit and evidence-based clinical care you will experience at our center.
If you choose VA Long Beach as your care center of choice, you will note our program is based on a team model. The team model puts our Veterans at the center of the team where they play an important role alongside their clinical team members to determine the best care plan possible.
- YOU are the most important member of the SCI care Team. Your team will always include your:
- Primary care physician who will provide ongoing care throughout the rehabilitation process. They will communicate regularly with you, your family, and the rest of the rehabilitation team to ensure that you have the most comprehensive care plan possible. As a result, your care team will grow and or become smaller as you progress through your care plan. Some of your other teammates will include the following:
- Rehabilitation Nurses combine traditional patient care skills with expertise in rehabilitation by managing complex medical issues, collaborating with other specialties, providing ongoing patient/caregiver education, setting goals for maximal independence, and establishing plans of care to maintain optimal wellness.
- Physical Therapists provide services to help restore maximum function through increasing mobility and strength and decreasing pain. Treatment may include: muscle re-education, mobility training, gait training; wheelchair skills; therapeutic exercise; pain relief practice; and other appropriate treatment techniques.
- Occupational Therapists help you regain the ability to do normal everyday tasks. This may be achieved by restoring old skills or helping you learn new skills, or by helping with a variety of adaptive equipment, orthotics, and home modifications.
- Recreational Therapists meet with you to assess your skills and abilities while addressing your interests and needs, paying special attention to the different kinds of things you like to do for fun. Personalized treatment plans are developed to address physical, social, and emotional needs and to help you return to familiar, or develop new, leisure activities.
- Social Worker will assist you with many aspects of care, such as preparing and implementing your discharge plan, arranging meetings with you and your family, arranging a schedule for family training days and working with other interdisciplinary team members.
- Psychologist is trained to assess and treat the many challenges facing spinal cord injured patients and their families. Psychologists provide clinical and counseling services for coping and adjustment problems related to traumatic injury/illness. Psychologists work with you and your family to identify and address specific issues (e.g.: mood/emotions, stress management, body image, quality of life, etc.) that may prevent you and your family from achieving the highest level of functioning after injury.
Clinical Programs and Services
VA Long Beach’s SCI Center programs are not limited to those that live in the Long Beach Area. Because we utilize a hub and spoke model of operation, we are able to significantly increase our services well beyond our facility. If you live outside of the Long Beach area and would like to receive your care at a sister VA facility, we can assist you by offering qualified programs and staff with expertise in spinal cord medicine in offsite or spoke locations. If you are eligible, we can coordinate SCI specialty care at our “Hub” by arranging travel or utilizing Telehealth to connect you to our center.
The goal of our Center is to empower, support, promote, and maintain health. The goal for our Veterans is independence, quality of life, and productivity throughout their lives. Regardless of whether you are service connected or not, there are many benefits of enrolling in one of the VA Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Centers. We have an onsite Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) office to advise you of your benefits.
Clinical services at the VA Long Beach Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Center (SCI) are provided by a team of dedicated professionals with expertise in spinal cord medicine. Our clinical program is based on the SCI Team model.
The clinical services provided at our Center include:
- CARF Accredited Acute Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Program for new spinal cord injury and other spinal cord disorders affecting mobility, bowel and bladder.
- SCI Telehealth Programs to provide specialty SCI consultation at local VA clinics or in the home
- Inpatient Medical Program/ Outpatient Program
- Urological care and management
- Wound Healing and Research Program for Pressure Ulcer Management
- Rehabilitation Therapies including Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Kinesiotherapy, Recreational Therapy, Vocational Therapy, Driver’s Training, Specialized Wheelchair Seating Evaluation
- Psychology with emphasis on adjustment to living with spinal cord injuries and disorders and successful community reintegration
- SCI Psychiatry
- Social work
- Individualized RN Case Management
- SCI Home Care Program
- Dietary services and consultation
- Respiratory therapy includes ventilator management
- Orthotic and prosthetic services
- Driver’s training and evaluation
- Respite care and services
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Peer support group and counseling
- Caregiver training and education
Research and Training
VA Long Beach’s Spinal Cord Injury Center (SCI) is actively engaged in on-going research to improve clinical care and quality of life for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders.
Our current research focus includes:
- Exoskeleton Study (Robotics to assist Veterans with walking)
- Lifestyle redesign for the management of chronic diseases and conditions
- Voice assistants and artificial intelligence to assist Veterans with SCI
- Improved pressure ulcer assessment and management
From time to time, there may be opportunities for persons with spinal cord injuries and disorders, including Veterans, their family, caregivers, as well as Non-veterans to participate in our research studies.
For more information about the SCI research program and to hear about opportunities to participate, please call Dr. Alicia Del Villar at 562-826-8000, ext. 14928.
Enrollment Benefits/How to Enroll
Regardless of whether your injury is service connected or not service connected, there are many benefits to enrolling at one of the 24 VHA SCI/D Centers.
- Exemption from Co-Payments: With the enactment of the Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, qualified Veterans with a spinal cord injury are exempt from inpatient, outpatient and prescription copayments.
- Durable Medical Equipment: Eligible Veterans with SCI can receive durable medical equipment (Examples: a ramp, hospital bed, Hoyer lift, shower chair/commode, specialty mattresses and specialized wheelchairs) free of charge.
- Home Adaptation: Eligible Veterans with disabilities may receive assistance for home improvements to allow access to their home under the HISA Grant Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program. https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/HISA2.asp
- Payment to Caregivers: Eligible Veterans can receive Bowel and Bladder Fee Basis program which pays the caregivers of Veterans with SCI who are providing bladder/bowel care.
There are many ways you can apply for enrollment.
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). A VA representative will have your completed form sent to you for verification and signature.
Print the 10-10EZ form or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) to have the form mailed to you. Complete and sign the application, then mail it to:
Health Eligibility Center
2957 Clairmont Road Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30329-1647
Visit a VA Medical Center or clinic nearest you to apply for enrollment or if you are already enrolled, to update your information in person.
Please visit the VA enrollment site for more detailed information.
Once you have submitted your application for VA healthcare please contact Laura Vong.
If you are a Veteran with a qualified spinal cord injury being denied of VA healthcare benefits because of your income, please contact us directly to obtain a formal evaluation. This formal evaluation will provide the necessary clinical evidence that may help to qualify you for VA healthcare benefits.