University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury

In Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury (UPMC-SCI) is one of the two model spinal cord injury systems in the state. UPMC-SCI provides bold emergency response care with rehabilitation in all areas of spinal cord injury care, from physical to vocational therapy. They also conduct long-term assessments of individuals with spinal cord injuries.


The research conducted at UPMC-SCI is also critical of the spinal cord injury community. While another model spinal cord injury systems conduct a variety of spinal cord injury research, UPMC-SCI focuses on assistive technology and the prevention of upper limb pain, especially related to overuse of these limbs as the years go by for individuals who were paralyzed.


To learn more about the comprehensive services offered by the world-class UPMC-SCI in Pennsylvania, continue reading below.




There have been hundreds, if not thousands of important studies done at UPMC-SCI over the years to improve the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. They are currently enrolling participants for several studies you can participate in from home. One current research study is their “Web-Based Wheelchair maintenance training program.” This study hopes to improve individual's wheelchair maintenance skills from the comfort of their home. And another current study is their “Web-Based Transfer Training Program.” 


UPMC-SCI also researches pain in the upper body of individuals with spinal cord injuries. They are currently doing a study that examines pain and mobility in individuals with spinal cord injuries. To see a full list of their ongoing research projects, click here; 


The quality of life in individuals with spinal cord injuries is also looked at in their research. One of their studies currently looks at residential instability in individuals with chronic spinal cord injuries. If you have any questions about taking part in any of the remote research at UPMC-SCI, you can contact them at (412)-392-7374.


How They Help


There is a plethora of information on how to manage life after a spinal cord injury on UPMC-SCI's site. In their “Living with SCI” section, they offer dozens of spinal cord injury fact sheets from the official Model Systems and Knowledge Translation Center. These fact sheets cover all areas of life after spinal cord injury.


From an overview of what spinal cord injuries are in the "Understanding Spinal Cord Injury" fact sheet to their "Driving After Spinal Cord Injury" or "Urinary Tract Infection and Spinal Cord Injury" fact sheets, there is a wide variety of them available. Check them out here:


You can also find consumer guides for people with spinal cord injuries on their site, such as the "PVA Clinical Practice Guidelines" or "Transfer Assessment Instrument." Information on their in-person SCI peer support group is also available on their site. Former patients help newly injured individuals in this group.


Some of the experts who work at UPMC-SCI were involved in the creation of an online fitness video (made by the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center) that is 19 minutes long and features people with spinal cord injuries explaining their workout routines. They also talk about how exercise has improved their quality of life. Watch: 


And lastly, if you're interested in improving your wheelchair skills you can also take part in monthly wheelchair training clinics. This wheelchair skills class takes place at UPMC Mercy every third Thursday of the month. Learn more:


Don't forget, the UPMC-SCI is located in Pittsburgh. If you're interested in finding help in the Philadelphia area there is a separate Model System Translation Center - the Regional Spinal Cord Injury Center of the Delaware Valley located at Jefferson University Hospital. To learn more, click here: 

- UPMC-SCI official site:

Topics: Assistive Technology, rehabilitation, Pennsylvania, conduct, long-term, assessments, spinal cord injury community, limb, overuse, comprehensive, Living with SCI, UPMC-SCI, Pittsburgh, upper limb, pain, training program, Web-Based, plethora

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