The Center for Spinal Cord
Injury Rehabilitation

Recovery from a spinal cord injury (SCI) involves significant challenges and important choices – and where an individual goes for treatment can make all the difference.

At Kessler's spinal cord injury rehabilitation center, patients and their families benefit from the expertise and experience of a team of spinal cord injury rehabilitation specialists. Here, individuals from across the country and around the world find the exceptional care and advanced treatment they need to move forward. Kessler is the only rehabilitation hospital in the New Jersey – and one of only 14 centers nationwide – to be designated by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research as a Model System for the treatment and research of spinal cord injuries.

Our Approach

Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation at Kessler focuses on the delivery of a comprehensive, highly integrated and intensive program of medical, nursing and therapy care to address the complex needs of each patient, including individuals who require the use of a ventilator.

We provide the earliest possible start to rehabilitation and work to optimize the abilities and independence of our patients so that they may return home. This goal-directed approach enables patients to:

  • improve physical function and mobility
  • develop the skills and strategies to perform daily activities
  • utilize adaptive technologies that facilitate activities at home, work and in the community
  • overcome the psychological and social problems that often interfere with adjustment to life ahead

Our Patients

Patient Stories


"...she came to understand that sometimes, for no apparent reason, bad things do happen to good people."


"...with the help of his doctors, nurses and therapists, he realized life was about what he could do, not what he could not."

Meet More Kessler Patients

Each year, Kessler treats more than 600 persons with spinal cord injuries. Some have experienced a traumatic injury as the result of a motor vehicle accident, fall, act of violence or sport-related injury. For others, spinal cord injury is the result of a tumor, infection, cervical stenosis, surgery or other non-traumatic causes.

Many of our patients have a dual-diagnosis of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. For these individuals we offer a highly specialized program to treat the multiple physical, functional and cognitive challenges they face.

In addition, Kessler's Center of Excellence for Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation provides comprehensive care for persons with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, motor neuron diseases and ventilator management needs.

Our Rehabilitation Team

Led by renowned physiatrist, Dr. Steven Kirshblum, Kessler's interdisciplinary team of physical medicine and spinal cord injury rehabilitation experts tailors treatment to the individual's rehabilitation goals. This dedicated team includes:

  • Physicians who manage our patients' complex medical needs around the clock
  • Rehabilitation nurses who deliver a compassionate, evidence-based care to each patient
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists who involve patients in an intensive and comprehensive treatment program for a minimum of three hours daily
  • Psychologists and neuropsychologists who address cognitive, emotional or behavioral issues
  • Case managers who carefully coordinate the individual's stay and discharge plans

Treatment, Technology & Research

Kessler, long recognized as a pioneer in spinal cord injury rehabilitation, carefully integrates the advanced treatment, proven therapies and leading-edge technologies support patient recovery. The team also continues to explore new avenues of rehabilitation medicine and engages in promising new research studies. Among the many advances now available to appropriate patients are:

  • Body weight supported treadmill training (BSWT) to improve gait performance
  • Electrical stimulation to reduce muscle atrophy and improve cardiovascular function
  • Technology-based environmental control units to increase functional independence
  • Robotic therapies to enhance motor function
  • Advanced wheelchair seating, pressure mapping and mobility options
  • Pharmacologic interventions for spasticity

Ventilator Management

Kessler's state-of-the-science Ventilator Management Program helps individuals maximize breathing potential and decrease the likelihood of respiratory complications common in patients with higher-level spinal cord injuries. Our ventilator-certified nurses and therapists, along with respiratory therapists, physiatrists and pulmonologists, work together to help wean appropriate patients from mechanical ventilators and tracheostomies. For these individuals, the benefits include improved speech and swallowing, greater independence and comfort, and improved quality of life.

Specialized Services

Kessler's comprehensive program includes a wide range of specialized services, including advanced urology and fertility services, under the direction of Dr. Todd Linsenmeyer. Our nationally recognized Driver Rehabilitation Program helps appropriate spinal cord injury rehabilitation individuals drive an adapted car or van and gain greater personal independence. In addition, we offer vocational counseling, assistive technologies, and advanced wheelchair seating and mobility options.

Support groups and extensive educational programming provide spinal cord injury rehabilitation patients and their families with the opportunity to share information, discuss common problems and learn from the experiences of others.

Continuum of Care

To help patients with spinal cord injury successfully transition to life at home, work, school or the community, Kessler offers an unparalleled continuum of inpatient through outpatient care. Our comprehensive spinal cord injury rehabilitation programs helps patients continue to build strength, gain function and mobility, and maximize independence. Kessler physicians will also continue to monitor the individual's progress and address any changes in condition and rehabilitation needs.

Our Outcomes

Studies show that spinal cord injury patients treated at an acute rehabilitation hospital like Kessler achieve better outcomes than those in other care settings. In fact, on average, Kessler patients have greater improvement during their stay and a higher level of functional independence upon discharge, based on national benchmarks that measure criteria such as locomotion, cognitive ability and activities of daily living.

For More Information

For more information about Kessler's Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program, to arrange a tour or to discuss admission, contact us or call call Kessler's West Orange, Saddle Brook or Chester Campus.