Spinal Cord Injury

Don't feel sorry for yourself. Get up every morning and go to the [therapy] gym and work as hard as you can to get back to normal.

Brandon Breunig, Spinal Cord Injury Survivor

Brandon's Story

Brandon began rehabilitation at Madonna after an April 2016 car crash left him with a spinal cord injury.  Brandon reached many personal goals, including showing his pig at the county fair, by utilizing specialty equipment like the EKSO GT Robotic Exoskeleton and the expertise of his team in the pool and on land.

https://vimeo.com/172023680
Technology and innovative therapies are helping a 6-foot-6 teen recover from a spinal cord injury

Technology and innovative therapies are helping a 6-foot-6 teen recover from a spinal cord injury

Overview

Madonna’s Spinal Cord Injury Program can help patients of all ages return to their life roles, regardless of the level of spinal cord injury, by participation in an intense rehabilitation program that maximizes strengths and provides specialized comprehensive education and training.

On-Site Care

Patients will be seen daily by a physiatrist, also known as a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, who specializes in the rehabilitative treatment and management of disease and injury affecting the brain, spinal cord, nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. The primary focus is to restore function and promote overall health.

Registered nurses with rehabilitation training or experience are on staff at all times to care for patients.

Madonna staffs licensed respiratory care practitioners at all times. Our respiratory therapists are able to provide arterial blood gas (ABG) services. Pulmonologists can perform bronchoscopies on-site with help from the respiratory team.

Patient-family education is provided on a wide variety of topics, including emergency preparedness, management of a personal assistant, aging with disability, prevention of potential risks and complications from SCI, life-care planning, self-advocacy and community resources.

Madonna provides a full range of inpatient pharmacy services, including medication distribution, patient education, and clinical/dosing services.

Madonna is able to provide radiology services that include X-ray, ultrasound, echocardiogram, venous doppler, arterial doppler, Holter monitor, sleep study and electroencephalogram (EEG).

Madonna's in-house laboratory provides anticoagulation, hematology, chemistry, therapeutic drug level testing and urine analysis services with results available the same day in most cases

Madonna has registered dietitians and licensed medical nutrition therapists who are part of the care team and ensure the patient's individualized nutrition plan is met

Neuropsychologists and rehabilitation counselors are an integral part of rehabilitation at Madonna.  They provide a variety of services, including neuropsychological assessment, adjustment counseling, pain management, family therapy, concussion or mild brain injury evaluation, memory testing, dementia evaluation, neurofeedback, biofeedback, behavioral management and psychoeducation

Assistive Technology Professional certified therapists provide seating and positioning evaluations for patients who use a wheelchair.

Our Spinal Cord Injury Program is comprehensive, providing medical interventions in the areas of autonomic dysreflexia, bladder and bowel function, circulation, swallowing and nutrition, infection, medication management, musculoskeletal and neurological effects, pain, respiration including ventilator and/or tracheostomy management, sexual function/fertility, skin integrity and spasticity management. Patients with a need for chemical use/abuse/dependency treatment are referred for treatment outside Madonna.

Life-long wellness training — including having a plan to stay active and to exercise safely — is also important for individuals completing their rehabilitation. Our trained staff promotes success by employing specially adapted equipment to teach patients how and what to do in a community based fitness environment. In addition, they explore new wellness opportunities that match a patient’s current fitness level.

Madonna is committed to meet all the needs of its patients--physical, spiritual and emotional. A spiritual care professional is a member of and consults with the care team. The chapel, the heart and soul of Madonna, is there to nurture faith and hope during times of crisis.

Madonna’s Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Program serves children 0-18 and adults of all ages with any level of complete or incomplete neurological impairments as a result of traumatic or non-traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). An interdisciplinary team of clinicians address a multitude of functional areas, including activities of daily living (ADL), assistive technology, behavior management, cognition (thinking and reasoning skills), communication, community integration, driving, durable medical equipment, environmental modifications, leisure and recreation, mobility, orthotics and prosthetics, wheelchair seating systems and vocational rehabilitation.

Patient-family education is provided on a wide variety of topics both one-on-one and in a group classroom setting.  Education classes address emergency preparedness, management of personal care assistants, aging with disability, prevention of potential risks and secondary health complications from SCI, life-care planning, self-advocacy and community resources. This education is also available to the community and other professionals and provided through webinars, prevention education events, continuing education events and mentoring. 

The program is comprehensive, providing medical interventions and assessment in the areas of co-morbidities, neurological changes, abnormal tone, body composition, autonomic dysreflexia, bladder and bowel function, circulation, swallowing and nutrition, infection, medication management, musculoskeletal and neurological effects, pain, respiration including ventilator and/or tracheostomy management, sexual function/fertility, skin care and spasticity management. Patients with a need for chemical use/abuse/dependency treatment are referred for treatment outside Madonna.

Health promotion and life-long wellness training — including having a plan to stay active and to exercise safely — is also important for individuals completing their rehabilitation. Our trained staff promotes success by addressing women’s and men’s health issues and training in use of equipment to in a community-based fitness environment. In addition, they explore new wellness opportunities that match a patient’s current fitness level and develop a plan to move forward with them after discharge. 

Clinical Expertise: Each patient’s care is directed by a physician who specializes in physiatry and/or a physician who specializes in internal medicine. A pediatrician is involved in daily to care for individuals 18 years or younger. Other physician specialists, such as pulmonologists, also provide consultation services at Madonna.   Madonna nurses are specially trained to care for patients with spinal cord injury, and several of our nurses have specialty training as a Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse. The spinal cord team has a rehab counselor who facilitates the team approach to adjustment to the disability, behavior health, and peer support services. The psychology staff provides family and support system counseling both individual and in a support group setting and provides support in the area of sexual adjustment.  Case management is also a  key part of the program in preparing patients and families for transitions across the lifespan, resource management, and how the importance of lifelong follow up with key health care providers. 

Treatment Equipment: Madonna is one of the region’s only rehabilitation hospitals to offer treatment equipment such as the RT-300, body weight support treadmill, Lokomat and EKSO to help individuals with incomplete SCI regain motor strength and control. Equipment options are available to serve pediatric individuals as well as individuals who may need bariatric accommodations.  Our research capability and rehab engineering staff extends our scope into development of new equipment and technology patients with SCI can benefit from now and in the future as well. 

Madonna features a multitude of assistive technology that assists individuals with any level of injury the opportunity to be more independent while using the telephone, accessing the computer and environmental control units. Examples include: voice-activated phones; voice-activated computer software; eye-gaze software; and environmental control systems using sip/puff or other switches.

Wheelchair Seating and Positioning: Selecting a wheelchair and following up after getting a new wheelchair are important to the overall long-term success of an individual with spinal cord injury. Pressure ulcers are a common and very costly secondary complication in persons with SCI. An adequate seating system is one way to prevent this complication. Madonna features an electronic pressure-mapping system that visually indicates pressure points, allowing clinicians to design and provide an appropriate seating system.

Preparation for Home: Madonna patients with spinal cord injury are provided with a 24-hour, caregiver-training program based on principles of self-advocacy and self-direction. We teach individuals, with or without identified caregivers, how to direct their care and what to do if emergencies arise. We provide opportunities for training in safety in the environments in which they participate both at home and the community.  Independent and community integration are facilitated through use of our transitional apartment and regular community outings.  Recommendations for home modifications are also made in partnership between our home assessment specialists, the team and the patient and family.

Community Reintegration: Rehabilitation does not stop when the patient gains basic skills of self-care and mobility. Madonna integrates a variety of  independent living skills into the program including adaptive sports and recreational outings into therapy, or just for fun. Patients may also visit with a vocational rehabilitation counselor about work re-entry, and may work on specific goals related to their return to driving or school.

Additional Programs and Services

Madonna offers specialized services that focus on real-life skills to help people achieve their greatest level of independence and get back to their families, work, community and activities.

Awards and accreditations

View a list of awards and accreditations that demonstrate our commitment to providing the best quality of care for our patients.  

State-of-the-Art Technology

As a nationally recognized rehabilitation leader, Madonna has some of the most advanced rehabilitation technology available.

Spinal Cord Injury Online Resources

The amount of information available about spinal injuries can be overwhelming.  Madonna coordinates with local, regional and national organizations to help patients find the most helpful online resources.

Patient Stories

Iowa man makes most of life after fall leaves him paralyzed (KETV)

10/30/2017 8:39 AM | In the News

Former patient Andrew Strom has a completely different outlook on life after he sustained a paralyzing spinal cord injury in 2015.

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Kansas man hits the ground rollin’ with help of Vapotherm

10/16/2017 8:52 AM | Patient Stories

In partnership with Vapotherm, this unique technology allows patients to breathe easier. For Kansan Twayne Cutsinger, “It’s changed my whole outlook,” as he worked to regain his highest level of independence following a spinal cord injury.

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Spinal cord injury survivor determined to walk again

9/15/2017 3:53 PM | Patient Stories

During #spinalcordinjuryawareness month, we’d like to introduce you to Koby Truesdell, a survivor who’s positive attitude and hard work are proof that, “Everything’s going to be all right. Whether you’re a complete or an incomplete, we can all make progress in our everyday lives. Madonna’s a great place for that.

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Nebraska trucker with nerve damage considers this adaptive technology a ‘game changer’

7/19/2017 5:01 PM | Patient Stories

Keith Rader is a truck driver who improvised the way he lived life after suffering permanent nerve damage to his right hand. That’s now changed after a Madonna occupational therapist introduced him to a new piece of technology. Keith says it’s a game changer that fits like a glove.

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With motivation from Madonna staff, Kansas woman exceeds expectations

6/13/2017 2:41 PM | Patient Stories

Motivation is the driving force behind rehabilitation, but where patients find their motivation differs. Brandi Jecha, 25, says one of her biggest motivators was Physical Therapist Kristi Rocole.

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